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Cycling Camino de Madrid - tips from my experience...

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baker_999

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None!
I've just completed the Madrid route and wanted to share some thoughts for anyone else considering it:

1. Bike hire: I used Bike Iberia, and although the courier company they used gave away the parcel containing my panniers/lock/puncture repair kit etc (all I had on day 1 was a bike) - they were a good choice. I had to cycle from the SEUR Depot on the outskirts of town to a nearby bike shop to buy panniers, water bottle etc, they reimbursed and apologised and helped translate on the phone. Good folk. I never got a puncture or needed tools, but deffo worth having.

2. Pack as little as possible: some days you will spend a few hours cycling along rocky /bumpy /dirt trails. Weight will really slow you down, cause you to want to walk stretches, and bare in mind your knees will likely get sore if you're cycling several hours everyday with load. Padded shorts are a must, music and earphones helps a lot (if you're solo), and a battery pack for your phone. Besides that, cycling in May as I have been the weather was sublime, no rain, occasionally headwinds but sunny /bright and not too hot. I recommend 1x cycling shorts, 1x casual short, 2x tees, 1x train jacket, shoes you can trash, flip flops, factor 50, raw unfetted grit, ideally formed in a northern town of the UK.

3. Be careful from Cercidilla - when you leave this town the official Camino website talks about cyclists needing to take an alternative 'Republic road' which veers right as the walking caminos head up the Roman road. I never saw this road, and no was it highlighted on the Buen Camino app. Thus, several hours of hauling my bike up a roman road (utter hell) I reached the top and an astonished couple thought i was foreign, crazy or stupid, i was all three. So upon checking Google maps to sanity check that I definitely could not make out this "Republic road' they clarified it was not displaying on Google maps, nor in the camino map. You may notice a dotted line that runs around thr circumference of the national park, this is basically the cyclist road, but it's not mapped. Don't be stubborn and stupid like me, just take thr highway until the info on the camino website is cleared up. This was the biggest mistake i made all week!

4. Get the Buen Camino app. V helpful for understanding profile of each day.

5. Bring knee supports or anti inflammatory gel- helped loads with recovery, as did hot baths.

6. Don't under estimate distances. I averaged 50km per day. Once you're outside Madrid you're at the mercy of varying terrain (dirt road, tractor paths, battered roads, pebble riddled country paths) - as a general rule, I added an extra hour to hour and half each day to Google maps estimation of my journey time. The bumps/bike weight /sore knees etc will. Slow you down, but it's all good fun.


Happy to answer any questions should you have them.

Enjoy and good luck.
Dave
 

debra

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2010, Frances 2010
Via Francigena 2014 bicigrino
Way of St. Francis 2017 bicigrino
Thank you for your post.

Can I ask a couple questions,
How far do you cycle daily at home?
How much weight do you cycle with daily at home and on this camino?

Thank you
 

baker_999

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None!
Hi

I cycle everyday to work (around 5k each way, 10k total). And carry around 5kg in a backpack (i think). But i was surprised I found this harder than I expected, primarily because my knees hurt after day 1 and actually cycling a mountain bike (even at a slow /steady pace) for several hours is far different than a road bike (my usual whip). The tyres a thicker = more friction on the road =slower and you don't maintain speed anywhere near like you do with roadie.

Chow
 

debra

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2010, Frances 2010
Via Francigena 2014 bicigrino
Way of St. Francis 2017 bicigrino
Thank you for the fast reply.
I ask as I have read a reports on routes by people that don’t walk or cycle as very hard. Yet they don’t walk/cycle so I have not found the information very helpful in practice. Using the information of your normal ride gives you a ride report a lot more usability to me.
 

Ingrid T

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances, Portugues (2016), Del Norte, Portugues, VDLP Sept 2018,Paris, Arles,Madrid (2019)
Hi Dave, I am intending biking this camino from Santiago via Sahagun to Madrid as I fly out from there. Do you think it could be hard doing this in the reverse. I will have travelled many kms by then as I am riding from Paris and taking in a couple other caminos along the way. Also wondering if anyone else has done this camino in the reverse..
 

baker_999

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None!
Hi Dave, I am intending biking this camino from Santiago via Sahagun to Madrid as I fly out from there. Do you think it could be hard doing this in the reverse. I will have travelled many kms by then as I am riding from Paris and taking in a couple other caminos along the way. Also wondering if anyone else has done this camino in the reverse..
Well I can't comment on the 200km from santiago to Sahagun but that will take you a few days 4/5,then another week to 10 days for the rest to Madrid. Though from the train window it looked really beautiful and rich in fauna from Santiago to Sahagun

From Sahagun to Madrid, the first couple of days are really nice, probably the most pleasant cycling days I had. The rest was a bit hit and miss, but Segovia is beautiful and well worth the ride to there. You will have a long climb at around 10 to 15% gradient for probably a few hours when you traverse upwards to head to Cercidilla.

I reckon you'll enjoy it but you might prefer to do something like the Portuguese Coast route or maybe the Frances to some point, there'll be loads more people /camino friendly, but it'll undoubtedly be really busy too. You'll probably be in solitude most days on the Madrid. If you do decide to do it, I'll send you a screen shot of the weird bit to be careful of, but I doubt you'll be able to make the same mistake i did it you're going on reverse.

Enjoy and good luck, get a bike with suspension!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Well I can't comment on the 200km from santiago to Sahagun but that will take you a few days 4/5,then another week to 10 days for the rest to Madrid. Though from the train window it looked really beautiful and rich in fauna from Santiago to Sahagun

From Sahagun to Madrid, the first couple of days are really nice, probably the most pleasant cycling days I had. The rest was a bit hit and miss, but Segovia is beautiful and well worth the ride to there. You will have a long climb at around 10 to 15% gradient for probably a few hours when you traverse upwards to head to Cercidilla.

I reckon you'll enjoy it but you might prefer to do something like the Portuguese Coast route or maybe the Frances to some point, there'll be loads more people /camino friendly, but it'll undoubtedly be really busy too. You'll probably be in solitude most days on the Madrid. If you do decide to do it, I'll send you a screen shot of the weird bit to be careful of, but I doubt you'll be able to make the same mistake i did it you're going on reverse.

Enjoy and good luck, get a bike with suspension!
Where's the weird bit? :D
 

Ingrid T

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances, Portugues (2016), Del Norte, Portugues, VDLP Sept 2018,Paris, Arles,Madrid (2019)
Thank you for your reply Dave. I have already done Portuguese and Frances walking and last year biked the Del Norte to SDC then Portuguese down to Porto and Via De la Plata back to SDC so being on my own shouldn't bother me too much.
In fact I'll probably be looking forward to the solitude as by the time I start from SDC I would have already completed the Paris, Lana, Levant, part of VDLP to my finishing port of Madrid.

Ill be taking my old faithful Epic hardtail bike as it has done me well in the 2 years that I have had it. Would you or anyone else happen to know of a good bike shop in Madrid that will pack up my bike for me ready for the flight home.

Lastly did you stay on the walkers tracks most of the time you did Madrid. I ask in case there are some challenging areas that I shouldnt tackle. I found this out last year when the guide said "cyclists take alternative route" and being stubborn I thought no I'll do what the walkers do. Next minute I am looking for the road:) .

I look forward to that screen shot!!! Any other hints would be greatly appreciated!!
 

baker_999

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None!
Screenshot_20190719-070617.jpg


Chances are you're no where near as stupid as me, but the map section above is from shortly after Cercedilla. I should have taken the green route, but I took the yellow and it was the worst day I've ever had on 2 wheels. The rest of the route I largely followed the walking trail although there were the occasional section I took the highway for convenience. Sounds like you'll have no problem with it. If you happen to go Nava De La Asunción, there's the best tapas bar called Bar Bulevar near the auberge, highly recommend! They do some inventive/creative tapas and it's dirt cheap! Enjoy Segovia too, i feel in love with that place!
 

Ingrid T

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances, Portugues (2016), Del Norte, Portugues, VDLP Sept 2018,Paris, Arles,Madrid (2019)
Awesome, thanks for that. I looked on the Buen Camino app and figured that was where you went wrong. I also uploaded the Camino de Madrid guidebook on my phone which did mention the alternative path. I figure ill be taking the Green path for sure. Great to hear back. If I get time I will do a blog also on the journey.
Ciao for now.......
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Of course, it's green one for bicis. I can't imagine cycling up the yellow one on that steep Roman road :D
In reverse (downhill) would be much easier.
 

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