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Camino del Norte/Primitivo - Bike - July 2020

Mikadelic

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte bici (July 2020)
Hola,
I'm new to the Camino but I have a lot of experience on bikes. I'm just about to set off solo on the Camino del Norte. I'd like to share my plans for any advice and comments, especially with the current situation around COVID and what is open or not.

I'm Irish, 37 yo, and I live in Barcelona. Being Irish, I prefer the northern coastal camino. I am planning to take a train from Barcelona to Pamplona and start on my gravel bike from there. I have a very good carbon gravel bike, carbon, shimano Ultegra, etc, and I have decked it out with two 20litre Decathlon panniers and it is probably in better condition than I am for the camino! Im planning around 10kg, of clothes etc, and I am not carring a tent or heavy sleeping bag.

I'm quite experienced with multiday hiking and biking, and my weekend rides in Barcelona are mostly on mountain bike with around 30km to 40km and 1,000m to 1,500m of climbing. With the camino my plan is between 60km to 100km per day depending on weather, climbs, and my physical state.

I have aroudn 18-19 days of flexibility, basically the rest of July. From the forums my plan is more or less as follows:
- Barcelona -Pamplona in train with bike disassembled. One night in Pamplona
- Pamplona-Irun - 1 day on bike 90km more or less
- Irun-Oviedo-Santiago 12-15 days (I will more or less follow two trails I found on Wikiloc of 12 and 14 days)
- If all goes well I will do Santiago-Muxia-Finesterre-Santiago over 2-3 days at the end
- Santiago Barcelona by plane or train at the end of the month

=======================
Questions
-----------

- COVID - Is the camino del norte open, are there people on it, is it acceptable to be on it by bike solo?
- In Irun the albergues are closed officially, but I dont mind booking private. What worries me is will I miss out on the most of the camino experience by not meeting a lot of other people in the evenings. Any comments on private accomodation that I should keep in mind along the way?
- On bike is it necessary to reserve accomodation in advance? My preference is to book only Pamplona and Irun for the first two nights, and everything else depending on the day.
- Being Irish I understand that weather forecasting is impossible. But in the north I see it rains around 12 days a month. Any recommendations on warm clothes I will need for the bike or evenings? And when it rains, does it rain all day, or is heavy showers for a few hours?
- Are there any sections that are notoriously windy, or is it impossible to predict?

Thanks, all comments welcome.
Michael
 

Albert_Hadacek

Young Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues - 2015
Norte - 2016, 2020
Frances - 2018
Hey @Mikadelic,

The Camino Norte is open,yet there is a lockdown around Ribadeo (currently until the 10th of July). Based on the forum there are pilgrims on it. I did the Norte a few years ago and I am returning back in 10 days... I don't remember it being particularly windy... I assume the coast might be time to time, yet the second half is mostly inland. We walked it in the middle of June - July and had like 2 days of rain...

I assume this year will be a bit specific in terms of meeting other pilgrims. Most common areas of the albergues will be closed, so meeting other pilgrims will probably happen in the cafes and bars. No one forbids you to ride alone.

Always look for the cyclist alternative as I remember some parts (e.g. the stage after Soto de Luiňa) have quite difficult terrain (more like enduro than gravel ).

Also, based on your description, your carbon gravel looks like an expensive bike... so look for accommodation with good storage options.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I would just add that it's wet rather than very cold. Also that sometimes places to eat at lunchtime can be a bit hard to find. They are there, but not often very obvious. You might need to ask.
Are you taking the Greenway between Latasa and. Andoain? About half way from Pamplona. On a disused railway. Brilliant ride and not too hilly to get there. Has tunnels, though and not that well lit.
 
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Mikadelic

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte bici (July 2020)
@Albert_Hadacek
Thanks for the tips. Only saw the news on the Ribadeo area after your message. My plan is to take the Primitivo from Oviedo so I would avoid this area. But it does make me question the necesity of doing this trip this year.🤔
Im quite happy to tackle technical sections on the gravel, but I will check out the trails and alternatives on the areas you mentioned.

@Barbara
Great, Im OK with wet over cold! Interesting comment about the greenway, I will look into that sounds good. I actually found another more direct route on Wikiloc that looks fantastic and the second half is also a Via Verde. https://www.wikiloc.com/gravel-bike-trails/pamplona-behobiairun-1a-ruta-solo-19202967
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
That looks like a nice ride if you are good on hills. My route was a lot flatter. I started at puenta la Reina and went to Irutzun on minor roads, I don't seem to have recorded the route bit there was only one major hill right at the start then along a river before a gentle climb to the Greenway. La Plazayola which then gets a different name half way along. From Ascain (edit... Sorry that should be Andoain) (which has a Pilgrim refuge) you can cycle to Irun or put an assembled bike on the narrow guage.
 
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Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
This is pretty close to what I did on my way to Bayonne. Its not a recorded route but I think it's right without going into my written notes which are at home.
Hope it helps. I don't think you need worry too much about being locked down in Spain in remote areas. Maybe allow a few extra days or have a flexible return booking.
 

Martin.P

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Algarvinia (Sept 12)
Camino Frances (June 16)
Via de la Plata (May 19)
Finisterre (July 16)
Hi,

I have not done the Norte, but I've done the Francis & La Plata by MTB, the only bit of wisdom I can add is to the choice of bike.

I'm an experienced cyclist both on Road & MTB - if you are planning on sticking mostly to the trails I would recommend you bring your MTB. We had many occasion to walk/push our MTB'S on certain sections & I believe you may need to do more of this on a gravel bike. Is your gravel bike fitted with standard handlebars or drops? For better control standard would suit.

Our MTB's took a fair beating on downhills & front suspension was a must even on some of the flatter sections.

Having said that you seem to have plenty of time set aside, so taking a stroll every now & then will most likely only enhance your Camino experience.

Be flexible, take every day as it comes, don't plan too much, breath in the salt air & sweet smell of the summer flowers.

Your a lucky man, may the road rise to meet you & the wind be forever on your back.....

Martin.
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
2020 Camino Del Norte
I can only speak for the Camino Primitivo section. My wife and I walked it in Sept. 2018. If your plan is to ride the actual trails versus road riding, then be prepared to walk your bike for long sections on many of the days. There are alot of steep sections that in my view would be virtually impossible to ride up with a bike loaded with gear. I mountain bike as well...but never on a Camino so far, but based on my abilities I knew I would not have been able to ride much on any of the days.
All that said the Primitivo is a gorgeous route and very much worth doing.
Good luck on your ride and Camino.
 

Tantalu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances(2018, 2019), about to walk Camino Norte
Micadelic I am heading to the norte on foot in August. If you are already there could you please tell me if the public hostels are open and most importantly if the charge more than the usual 6-10 euros? I am on a very strict budget so it might affect whether I go or not after all. Send me a pm if you like and we can also exchange contact info if you wish. Thanks a lot and buen camino!
 

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