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Camino Frances by CityBike?

Gerrit Verniers

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances
What type of roads should I expect on the Camino Frances? Is it asphalted, gravel, rock? I only have a city-bike with 8 gears. Would that work? Planning only to ride the last 500 or so kms up to Santiago.
Thanks for your advices, Gerrit
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
What type of roads should I expect on the Camino Frances? Is it asphalted, gravel, rock? I only have a city-bike with 8 gears. Would that work? Planning only to ride the last 500 or so kms up to Santiago.
Thanks for your advices, Gerrit
Highways in Spain are generally asphalt with concrete through smaller villages. Tracks are generally graded stone and gravel . . . with the odd boulder.
As to the suitability of your bike there's an old saying: "What's the best bicycle for touring? The one that you have!"
I met two Englishmen in Santiago who had cycled from Bordeaux on three speed Brompton folding bikes. I asked how they'd managed over the Pyrenees and they said they pushed them.

Buen Camino!
 
What type of roads should I expect on the Camino Frances? Is it asphalted, gravel, rock? I only have a city-bike with 8 gears. Would that work? Planning only to ride the last 500 or so kms up to Santiago.
Thanks for your advices, Gerrit


Hi Gerrit and welcome here! I see you are from Belgium also...;).

Yes, it would be doable with your citybike. You would of course have to take some detours on certain stretches. But yes do expect gravel and rocky surfaces.
All depends of course of your general fitness. Do you use your citybike at home too on gravel?

I would advise you to book an appointment with the volunteers of the Flemish Confraternity in Mechelen.
They have a wealth of information to share.


Happy preparations! Veel plezier.
 
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Trecile and Jeff, these replies are not reassuring for the use of a city-bike. What would be useful is to give an opinion based on the quantity and/or quality of the trails. Thanks Gerrit.


I suggest that you do make yourself familiar with the concept of this forum.
There is a search engine in the right uppercorner here.
I typed in "walking surfaces" . I knew there were already lots of threads. This one for example.
Yes, they are about walking but it gives you an idea about the surface.


Aside from that : the feasability of your endeavour will depend on your general grade of fitness and the quality of your bike.

Also take into consideration that there are more walkers here on this forum than cyclists.
 
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€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
What would be useful is to give an opinion based on the quantity and/or quality of the trails.

Can't give you an opinion but can show you how to choose your route.

If you go to RideWithGPS you can search for previous rides over the CF. An example Arca to Santiago


The route is shown as solid when you are travelling over road and a hatched area when on unpaved (gravel/earth). You can use the software to re-route around the unpaved areas so you can be as close to the CF and stay on the asphalt sections. You can also switch to Google Street View to get an idea of the unpaved areas to see if you need to leave the route at all.
 

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What type of roads should I expect on the Camino Frances? Is it asphalted, gravel, rock? I only have a city-bike with 8 gears. Would that work? Planning only to rid T e the last 500 or so kms up to Santiago.
Thanks for your advices, Gerrit
My sister rode a step through town bike with a front basket from Sahagun to Ponferada.
Not the easiest ride but she got there. (Try and avoid the roman road on the alternative route to Religous)
She often took the road rather than the Camino trail.
 
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Trecile and Jeff, these replies are not reassuring for the use of a city-bike. What would be useful is to give an opinion based on the quantity and/or quality of the trails. Thanks Gerrit.
Are you aware of Bikeline guides?


In German only, as far as I know. The maps show a cycle route with information regarding the surface. The walking route is on the same maps if you wish to try it - not sure I would do it on a "city bike" though some stretches would be possible. We were on "trail bikes" without significant luggage which helped when on the walking path.
 
Although I’ve only walked the CF, I did ride the VDLP two years ago. I rented a top end 27 speed mountain bike in Sevilla and needed every bit of what the bike offered to complete the 600 mile Camino. As I primarily road the Camino paths taken by walkers, the bike I had was necessary. Anything less would have made the trek much more difficult. I did meet cyclists who were completely riding the paved roads up to SdC. The type of equipment they needed was very different from what I was using. Keep in mind that it’s not just the terrain that you are contending with. On some very rainy days I hit such heavy, deep mud that progress forward was very difficult on a loaded down bike. Therefore, although you might want to use your bikes, I’d certainly consider consulting some bike outfitters in Spain who are familiar with Camino travel to get their opinion of the best bike for the CF. Best of luck!
 
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Trecile and Jeff, these replies are not reassuring for the use of a city-bike. What would be useful is to give an opinion based on the quantity and/or quality of the trails. Thanks Gerrit.
So what you're really saying is "I have a piece of string, will it be long enough to tie up a parcel?" - how long is the string? How big is the parcel?

We would need to know your level of fitness, the gear ratios of your hub gears (there are some steep climbs), the type of tire you intend to be using (my "city bike" runs on almost slicks, my MTB/VTT has tires like a Vibram boot sole), how much gear you intend to load the bike with (are you bikepacking or taking laden panniers?) . . . there are all sorts of variables.

Asphalt main roads in Spain tend to be well maintained, the more rural ones not so much. Concrete surfaces through small villages tend to be "dump it on the surface and roughly rake it around".
Newer rural cycle tracks tend to be well graded gravel in the region of 5 - 8mm (retired highway engineer speaking here), Some are roughly graded with cobbles (4"/ 100mm and upwards) - you can always get off and push. In urban areas you may come across cycle tracks marked out on asphalt roads, through public parks, alongside main rivers.
Unmade up rural roads could be anything - you'll sometimes see pot holes filled with broken brick, tiles, plaster rubble. Sometimes they are just compacted mud or covered in cow dung - during a wet harvest this would be particularly trying, wet clay and straw can clog up your drive train in no time. If your bike has a chain guard and fenders/mudguards you might consider removing them and risking a rooster tail up your back.

You could do the whole of the Camino Frances on a Dutch Omafiets, whether you would enjoy it or not is a question only you can answer.

It might be worth your while taking one of the many GPS routes available and overlaying it on Google Earth and following it along at street level and you'll see pretty much what you'll get.

Once again, Buen Camino.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Thanks a lot you all for taking the time to give me a lot of info 👍 I have now enough to do an assessment by myself. The bikeline Radweg handbook provides a lot of detailed info of the CF, including the alternative route descriptions for bikes. And I will also contact the volunteer organization in Mechelen, Belgium. I didn't realize there are so many people motivated to help out. 👏. Thanks again.
 
Hola and welcome. If you search back to Sep/Oct 2015 you will find my report on my experiences. If you start in (say ) Burgos the city bike should be ok following the route the walkers follow as far as Rabanal. From there you would (imho) be better following the road through to O'Ceberiero (don't even think about using the walkers Herrerias). There is a road alternative which is steep in places so it might involve some walking. From Sarria if its busy the roads might be the better option, although you can follow the walkers camino if you have wide/rough track tyres. Buen Camino.
 
What type of roads should I expect on the Camino Frances? Is it asphalted, gravel, rock? I only have a city-bike with 8 gears. Would that work? Planning only to ride the last 500 or so kms up to Santiago.
Thanks for your advices, Gerrit
I Biked the Camino Frances in May of 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. From all the reading I did prior to my Camino I decided that skipping the Pyrenees was my best bet. As mentioned below you will run into all types of surfaces I use the combination of the Camino Trail along with the Google Maps "bike mode" for my travels.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Having biked a large chunk of it, I don't think you'll have an issue with a city bike. I cycled from Astorga to Santiago with a mountain bike using city/road tyres.
I think you'll have little to no problems with the surface. Whether or not 8 gears is enough, I don't know. Maybe explore replacing the front chaingring with a smaller one to have an easier time on the climbs
 

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