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Cycling SJPDP to Santiago Sept 8th (13 Days)

alvaroe16

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018
#1
Hi,
I am looking for advice! Me and my friend have planned and purchased everything to cycle the Camino Sept 8th to Sept 20th from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. We were all ready to go and unfortunately my friend knee started giving him a lot of trouble. He is waiting for some MRI results and a doctors consultation on Friday but we are hoping he can still come with me.

That said, and prepping for the worst case, is it okay (safe, and worth while) to cycle the camino by myself? What are the chances of finding other cyclist whom you can tag along with?
I would love to go with my friend when he recovers but it would be a lot of wasted money to cancel my portion of the trip (airfare mainly).

Anybody cycling in Sept? :)
Thanks
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept 2017 (bike)
#2
Hi, you might like to read my account and another by Jenny in the Biking the Camino section of this forum when we biked the CF at about the same time last year. Perfectly ok to bike it alone and you will probably mix it up with a few other bikers along the way. A couple of thoughts:

- Not all albergues take bikes, so try to plan the ones where you want to stay.
- There is constant forum traffic about inconsiderate bikers vs. walkers on the tracks, so try to use the roads when you can.

Good luck and have fun !
 
#4
MarkT17 and Jenny really say it all.

Some thoughts : riding the track is amusing but probably just for a few kms. If you use the roads, you will have much more time to explore on the way and at your night stops. We spent considerable time on the path and regretted it, sometimes ending up hastening on the road to make it to our pre-booked hotels.

Guides : Brierley but also Bikeline Jakobs-Radweg (Esterbauer) ; text in German but excellent maps which also show the walkers' path if you need it. Presently available on Amazon UK ; not sure about US/Aus.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#5
These are some tips from a post by davebugg for cycling the Camino and sharing the paths with walkers.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...go-in-under-24-hours.56945/page-2#post-646879


This is from a post I made earlier this year.
------------------------

1. Assume the pedestrian pilgrims cannot hear you approaching. Bad hearing, conversation, self absorption, focusing on the scenery, traffic noise nearby.... there are a lot of reasons that don't include headphones and music. Given the nature of a Pilgrimage, it should be of no surprise that there is a lot of internal focus for the pedestrian pilgrim.

2. Give a loud enough warning, when you are far enough away, so as not to not startle pedestrian pilgrims. A startled pilgrim is an unpredictable pilgrim and could bolt right into the bicyclists path, causing injury to both. Additionally, it is quite unpleasant to be suddenly frightened.

3. As you approach a pedestrian pilgrim(s), slow down. This helps minimize the large difference in weight and momentum and makes everyone safer.

4. In general, except for those who somehow feel entitled differently, most rules of a shared pathway are based on what is written above and are simply normal commonsense to keep all pedestrians and bicyclists safe: Bicycles and Pedestrians yield to horses. Bicyclists yield to Pedestrians.

5. While it may seem advisable for a pedestrian walking along a pathway to be aware of bicyclists, and it is something one should try to do, pedestrian pilgrims are not responsible for your behavior on a bicycle. They cannot make a warning for the bicyclist, nor use the brakes, nor steer the wheel.

6. Pedestrian and Bicycle Pilgrims are on Camino for a shared goal. Each is there to gain some sort of fulfillment and experience the Camino spiritually or physically, or culturally, or religiously or all of the above. Loving, caring, and respecting one another requires accommodation of differences and nurturing an attitude of giving. Pedestrians can assist the bicyclist by standing aside when you know they are approaching, offering to help with mechanical breakdowns (if knowledgeable), and grabbing a piece of the bike -- with permission -- to help the bicycle peregrino make it up a steep slope or extra muddy path.

Bicycle Peregrinos can be of similar attitude by simply observing the points above.

God Bless Us All; And Let Us Love One Another.

Hope your friend can go. But you will be fine if you go it alone! Have a great Camino.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
September 2018
#6
I have read through both Mark and Jenny's summary - What a great source of knowledge - this is what i used for a lot of my planning.

I am also very aware of the Walking vs. Cycling debate and how to share the road. I have every intent to be respectful and cordial to the walkers. I wish I could also walk the camino, but I simply can't take that much time off - hence biking it is.

With regards to the when to stick to the road versus when to stick to the "path". I love the idea of doing the "real" camino the whole way but I also recognize that this is hard and some parts even dangerous.
Is there a recommendation on which areas you should definitely stick to the path (in order to not miss some of the sights, features etc) versus when you should ride the road?

Thanks!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May/June 2015, via the Atlantic Cycle Route
#7
Hi,
I am looking for advice! Me and my friend have planned and purchased everything to cycle the Camino Sept 8th to Sept 20th from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. We were all ready to go and unfortunately my friend knee started giving him a lot of trouble. He is waiting for some MRI results and a doctors consultation on Friday but we are hoping he can still come with me.

That said, and prepping for the worst case, is it okay (safe, and worth while) to cycle the camino by myself? What are the chances of finding other cyclist whom you can tag along with?
I would love to go with my friend when he recovers but it would be a lot of wasted money to cancel my portion of the trip (airfare mainly).

Anybody cycling in Sept? :)
Thanks
First of all, all the best to your friend.
Now to your questions...
Of course it's safe and worthwhile to cycle by yourself. There are many advantages to being on your own - having the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you like is, in my opinion, the main one.
If you're travelling alone, pack a good first aid-kit and keep it handy in case you need it! (Not trying to scare you, just when travelling alone you need to be responsible for the worst case scenarios). And some snacks. There may be times where you'll want to stop for an hour or 2.

There are other cyclists all along the Camino. From my experience, most were couples or groups. Joining in is sometimes possible, but to find another rider who travels at the same pace as yourself is a bit like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. I wouldn't count on it, but nice if it works out.

You've had good advice about interacting with pedestrians. Perhaps not suitable language for a Camino, but I've cycled all over Europe using the motto that everybody else on the road is an idiot - It hasn't let me down yet.

Travelling on a bike has one disadvantage over walking - and that is the "social" side of the Camino. After the first day you'll have left "ÿour" group behind. So every evening you will be the "New kid in town".

As for your time frame, the 13 days is entirely doable. Your choice of route depends very much on the load you are carrying and your experience of riding your bike off-road and with a load.
If you have little experience you may want to consider staying mainly to the roads. A little bit of planning and you can check off all the places on your hit-list.
More experienced and you can seriously consider the pedestrian path on the proviso you understand that you will not be moving fast. You'll be looking to average 60+ km per day on a fairly low average speed.

I have read through both Mark and Jenny's summary -
With regards to the when to stick to the road versus when to stick to the "path". I love the idea of doing the "real" camino the whole way but I also recognize that this is hard and some parts even dangerous.
Is there a recommendation on which areas you should definitely stick to the path (in order to not miss some of the sights, features etc) versus when you should ride the road?
Thanks!
Firstly, sometimes the path is right beside the road. In that case it makes sense to take the road.

If you look around you'll find blogs and Youtube videos of people who have done this and they'll offer advice on what sections to ride the road.

It also depends on your bike, it's tyres and the load you are carrying and where it is carried. And your experience. If you misjudge your skills and crash you're only hurting yourself - unless you crash into a pedestrian!

My experience is to ride what's in front of you. Pedestrian density and weather (specifically heavy rain!) can turn a perfect cycling path into a nightmare. A tough climb over rocks and little boulders can be hard work, but very rewarding when you've dragged your bike all the way up!
Whatever about ascents, I think just about everybody's advice is to take the road for the descents! :)
In other words, unless you need to plan to the last detail, I'd suggest that you take each day and each section as it comes. Navigation is never a problem and if you find the path too uncomfortable for whatever reason, you can always turn around and take the road.

Pedestrian traffic is heaviest in the morning when all the pilgrims are leaving all the Albergues and heading off. Depending on your morning style you may want to linger over a long breakfast and head off when the pedestrians have spread out, or take the road to get ahead of them. Hint; Read the Brierly guide and aim for Albergues that are mid-section. A large percentage of Pilgrims take Brierly to be the fifth Gospel and follow his sections religiously.

The last 100 km can be very busy. Perhaps not so much in September. It was so busy when I biked it that I took to taking the day off and cycling in the evenings when the path was clear. Glorious riding! September, though, the days will be shorter.

While 13 days is doable, by road or by path, I'd imagine that you could be feeling the pressure to make time, that there's a focus to get x kms under your belt before you can relax. That can easily lead to a feeling of pressure. Personally, I think that's a shame on any long-distance bike trip, especially a Camino. A big part of the Camino for me, was slow progress, frequent stops and plenty of chats along the way.

If you're in any way fit, you can make good time on the roads. Worst case scenario, most buses will take a bike in the baggage section underneath.

If time stress is a thing for you, I'd suggest you do some research on what places you specifically want to see and take detours from the road to see them. And leave a little room in your plan for when you find those unexpected places that speak to you. You'll be glad you did.

My own experience is that I did the CF in May/June 2015. I had 4 panniers and a tent (the Camino was only a part of my trip), totalling about 20-25 kg.
I used a cheapy hybrid bike with front suspension and 1,5 inch tyres. (Doing it again, I'd use larger tyres for offroad)
I followed the path most of the time (excluding descents). However, I did most of my riding when there were few pedestrians around. I covered a lot of the road as well then doubled back and followed the path. I prefer the path for atmosphere and sociability.
I took, I think, 16-17 days St. Jean to Santiago.

You're in for a great experience! Enjoy!

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#8
First of all, all the best to your friend.
Now to your questions...
Of course it's safe and worthwhile to cycle by yourself. There are many advantages to being on your own - having the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you like is, in my opinion, the main one.
If you're travelling alone, pack a good first aid-kit and keep it handy in case you need it! (Not trying to scare you, just when travelling alone you need to be responsible for the worst case scenarios). And some snacks. There may be times where you'll want to stop for an hour or 2.

There are other cyclists all along the Camino. From my experience, most were couples or groups. Joining in is sometimes possible, but to find another rider who travels at the same pace as yourself is a bit like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. I wouldn't count on it, but nice if it works out.

You've had good advice about interacting with pedestrians. Perhaps not suitable language for a Camino, but I've cycled all over Europe using the motto that everybody else on the road is an idiot - It hasn't let me down yet.

Travelling on a bike has one disadvantage over walking - and that is the "social" side of the Camino. After the first day you'll have left "ÿour" group behind. So every evening you will be the "New kid in town".

As for your time frame, the 13 days is entirely doable. Your choice of route depends very much on the load you are carrying and your experience of riding your bike off-road and with a load.
If you have little experience you may want to consider staying mainly to the roads. A little bit of planning and you can check off all the places on your hit-list.
More experienced and you can seriously consider the pedestrian path on the proviso you understand that you will not be moving fast. You'll be looking to average 60+ km per day on a fairly low average speed.


Firstly, sometimes the path is right beside the road. In that case it makes sense to take the road.

If you look around you'll find blogs and Youtube videos of people who have done this and they'll offer advice on what sections to ride the road.

It also depends on your bike, it's tyres and the load you are carrying and where it is carried. And your experience. If you misjudge your skills and crash you're only hurting yourself - unless you crash into a pedestrian!

My experience is to ride what's in front of you. Pedestrian density and weather (specifically heavy rain!) can turn a perfect cycling path into a nightmare. A tough climb over rocks and little boulders can be hard work, but very rewarding when you've dragged your bike all the way up!
Whatever about ascents, I think just about everybody's advice is to take the road for the descents! :)
In other words, unless you need to plan to the last detail, I'd suggest that you take each day and each section as it comes. Navigation is never a problem and if you find the path too uncomfortable for whatever reason, you can always turn around and take the road.

Pedestrian traffic is heaviest in the morning when all the pilgrims are leaving all the Albergues and heading off. Depending on your morning style you may want to linger over a long breakfast and head off when the pedestrians have spread out, or take the road to get ahead of them. Hint; Read the Brierly guide and aim for Albergues that are mid-section. A large percentage of Pilgrims take Brierly to be the fifth Gospel and follow his sections religiously.

The last 100 km can be very busy. Perhaps not so much in September. It was so busy when I biked it that I took to taking the day off and cycling in the evenings when the path was clear. Glorious riding! September, though, the days will be shorter.

While 13 days is doable, by road or by path, I'd imagine that you could be feeling the pressure to make time, that there's a focus to get x kms under your belt before you can relax. That can easily lead to a feeling of pressure. Personally, I think that's a shame on any long-distance bike trip, especially a Camino. A big part of the Camino for me, was slow progress, frequent stops and plenty of chats along the way.

If you're in any way fit, you can make good time on the roads. Worst case scenario, most buses will take a bike in the baggage section underneath.

If time stress is a thing for you, I'd suggest you do some research on what places you specifically want to see and take detours from the road to see them. And leave a little room in your plan for when you find those unexpected places that speak to you. You'll be glad you did.

My own experience is that I did the CF in May/June 2015. I had 4 panniers and a tent (the Camino was only a part of my trip), totalling about 20-25 kg.
I used a cheapy hybrid bike with front suspension and 1,5 inch tyres. (Doing it again, I'd use larger tyres for offroad)
I followed the path most of the time (excluding descents). However, I did most of my riding when there were few pedestrians around. I covered a lot of the road as well then doubled back and followed the path. I prefer the path for atmosphere and sociability.
I took, I think, 16-17 days St. Jean to Santiago.



You're in for a great experience! Enjoy!

Buen Camino
Great Post, Flatlander!
just wanted to indicate that from Sarria in September the pathS have a lot of foot traffic.
 
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#9
I love the idea of doing the "real" camino the whole way but I also recognize that this is hard and some parts even dangerous.
I think the 'real' camino, as in the historical route, is more likely to be found along the main road than the current walking route. The modern walking route has been been adapted to meet the needs of residents and modern pilgrims, improve safety etc. in many areas. You'll be totally fine going alone - enjoy the freedom and flexibility the bike gives you! If you want to ride on the path bear in mind that most walkers have stopped walking by around 2pm which gives you loads of time to have the path to yourself.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#10
There is constant forum traffic about inconsiderate bikers vs. walkers on the tracks, so try to use the roads when you can.
@Marbe2 most importantly says "Pedestrian Priority" (my paraphrase) applies.

Many sections are glorified goat or sheep tracks with room for walkers in single file. And you dont know in advance when you will encounter them

Wider path ways can also have rutted or rubble surfaces that may not be suitable for bikes with walkers using them.

Is there a recommendation on which areas you should definitely stick to the path (in order to not miss some of the sights, features etc) versus when you should ride the road?
Just about all the paths in Spain closely follow:
N-135 from Valcarlos to Pamplona (and road from Saint-Jean)
various from Pamplona to Logrono
N-120 from Logrono to O'Cebreiro with the exception of Burgos to Carrion
LU-633 from O'Cebreiro to Gonzar
various from Gonzar to Palas-de-Rei
N-547 from Palas-de-Rei almost to Santiago

I wished to see Santa-Maria-de-Eunate, off route before Puenta-la-Reins. That is easily attained on road, for example.

@alvaroe16 , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Bicigrino Camino Frances March 2016
Via de la Plata (Sept 2018)
#11
Great advice from @Flatlander and @Marbe2.

I cycled alone in April 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Although the paths were fairly quiet at that time of year, I wanted to experience the Camino pathway on my mountain bike rather than than the road and with courtesy and consideration I don't think I caused any problems for walkers.

As a suggestion, I got into the habit of walking the last few kilometers at the end of the day in the company of someone or a group walking and that helped to build a little temporary 'group' each day as it was difficult to find cyclists that matched for speed and distance. Hope your friend can make it, but if not you will not be disappointed by the solo experience!
 

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