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Cycling the Camino

ChrisG1

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2023
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
 
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irishrock

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (1st three stages in 2016 and finished in 2017)
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
I never, not a single time, thought of bikers as a nuisance. My only recommendation would be to be quite careful as I saw a biker I ran into in Astorga later have a very bad dustup and was quite skinned up.

I think one would have to be petty and have a quite bad attitude if they had an issue with bikers.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Inglese 2021
CF started 22022
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
The best advice i have for you is to be considerate of your fellow pilgrims. I for one don't have an issue with bikers but I can say its a bit scary when someone zooms past you from behind. Most times bikers called out so for me it was not really an issue. Enjoy your ride!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Most issues arise on parts of the Camino where the trail is narrow and winding. Cyclists are necessarily traveling faster than walkers and so issues and crashes happen when cyclists go around a bend fast and encounter walkers who are unable or unwilling to give up the smoothest part of the trail to the cyclists.

My understanding is that there are cycling guides available that provide alternative paths for cyclists in these areas.

Unfortunately some cyclists start with an irrational goal to cycle every part of the trail that a walker would walk as some alternatives follow a road.

There are also a group of cyclists, usually local to the area who see the narrow winding parts of the trail as a challenge to test their mountain biking prowess on. I encountered such a group at one stage with unfortunate results for the cyclist heading the bunch when I was unable to step off the trail because of the steep drop on one side and cliff face on the other. It was almost also unfortunate for me.

I also encountered two couples from the USA in the tourist office one day. They were cycling for the first time since their distant youth and two of the party were injured when they fell on a rocky part of the trail. The couples were asking about:
1 renting a van so that the injured couple and their bikes could follow along
2 For a cycling guide so that the remaining two riders could avoid the bits that would be a challenge to anyone except a dedicated mountain bike rider.

On other parts of the Camino Frances I enjoyed chatting to cyclists but I never saw them more than once and so no lasting friendships developed.

That is something to consider, if you want to make friends along the way then in most instances you will need to do that amongst the much smaller population of fellow cyclists.
 

haikutaxi

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués (May 2012)
Coastal Camino Portugués (October 2013)
Camino Inglés (planning for ?)
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
I have no problem with cyclists as long as they are courteous (announce their approach and not force walkers to the side). FYI, I have friends who biked the Camino and said they now wish they had walked as you see and experience more in a meditative walk
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
Hi Chris
I have been 5 times on the Camino now and unlike some of the stories I see from others I have to say that I have never had a problem with cyclists. I never have anything in my ears and generally pay attention to what is going on around me and often hear cyclists coming before they call out or ring their bells to warn me of their approach. The one thing I would suggest is that you have a bell, sound it in plenty of time and actually give walkers time to move out of the way. Remember a lot of us are elderly and carrying packs so need a bit of time to manoeuvre. I always greet cyclists with a "buen camino" and get the same from them.
Buen Camino
Vince
 

norfolk-keith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
Having walked the Camino three times and cycled it the fourth time last year Ivan honestly say I’ve never suffered walking or cycling with other pilgrims however I was very mindful last year when approaching pilgrims give them plenty of warning and approach slowly Keith from Norfolk
 

Charles Barry

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I was an avid cyclist for years, but I decided I wanted to walk the Camino. All of my cycling friends were shocked! But I wanted to really take my time and see things at a slower pace. I'm glad I did. I have to say that most of the cyclists I encountered were fairly rude and did not ring a bell of otherwise warn my of their presence. It's possible that most of these were young locals out for a day ride and not pilgrims, per se. The most polite cycling group I encountered were all Americans. I was delighted and proud!
 
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Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
Because of an injury to my leg a walking Camino turned into a bicycle in Camino. And for the most part I rode the trail. If the trail was very thin and there were walkers about, I either walked the bike or found a road. You definitely feel like you’re harassing walkers, if you’re a polite person. But for the most part, walkers were friendly towards me, But I’ve bent over backwards to be polite.

I would call out ahead in both Spanish and English, and then ring my bell if I didn’t get a response. I would always go slowly when I was passing walkers unless the trail was extremely wide. But I would still startle people and sometimes they would jump off the trail!

Someone else mentioned this, but I definitely felt I didn’t get the true Camino experience because I didn’t really develop a Camino family.

You can of course take the road route, and then you won’t bother any walkers. But why bother to do the Camino? And the few times I did, it could feel dangerous because of the fast cars.

There’s a lot of hills in parts of the trail, and I spent a lot of time pushing my bike up hills. Sometimes even down hills because it seem to rocky and fast.

It also depends on what time of year you go. I’m thinking September and may be May 15 through June 15 are the busiest times. If you’re off-season, it’ll be a lot easier. My bike ride was approximately April 15 through May 15, and only towards the end after Sarria did I feel the trails were really crowded. In the beginning, sometimes they were desolate.

And my comments are about the Camino France. Some other routes, from my understanding , (the Via Del Plata comes to mind) are really suited to bicycles.

But overall, if your polite and willing to slow down when necessary , it’ll be a good experience.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Sarria to Santiago 2019
Frances (sept 2022)
Walked Sarria to Santiago in 2019. I am typically the first to give space to others no matter their form of mobility. We had a few groups of Cycling folks who were rude, traveling much too fast, unwilling to share the road(not a path), no use of bell or horn, and hollering out in their language then English...MOVE, GET OUT OF THE WAY. Absolutely uncalled for. Other cyclists were very polite and willing to share the space.
 

Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
Hi All. My wife and I are planning a three month tour in Europe next year including cycling the camino. I have read that some walkers find cyclists a nuisance. Other than not taking our bikes , what can we do to be less of a nuisance? If you have hiked the camino what was your reaction to cyclists and why?
Well, it depends which Camino, the route you follow, the time of year you're riding, your cycling ability and what type of bike you ride. Another way of asking the question is "how can peregrinos be less of a nuisance to bicigrinos" but that's a bit controversial as cyclists are generally outnumbered on the Camino.
  • Which Camino: some are busy, some are quiet(er) but they all become more busy within 100 - 200 km from Santiago
  • Which Route: in principle any & all Caminos can be ridden - on the nearby road with a road / touring bike or directly on the Camino with a gravel / MTB
  • When: there are peak periods - May & September are very popular for the better weather
  • Ability: are you seasoned / experienced riders, not so much of a problem if you keep to the road but off-road ability & confidence are essential if you plan to follow the camino
  • Bike Type: as above road or touring bike are fine if following the road but a gravel or hard-tail are better on the camino
So from a bikers POV if you you want to minimise you nuisance to other peregrinos then equip your bike with a good bell, slow down when overtaking (the person being overtaken has right-of-way), be courteous and considerate (I have noticed that peregrinos often react in an unpredictable manner) but understand that you have as much right to be on the camino as any other person. If you just wish to ride a / any camino then consider riding in the "wrong" direction so that the peregrinos see you coming.

Many of the biker horror stories relate to local MTB riders out for a ride on their bike trail, most bicigrinos are considerate & courteous. So bring your bikes, ride a camino, you won't regret it y buen camino.
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP Part 2/2023
Many of the biker horror stories relate to local MTB riders out for a ride on their bike trail, most bicigrinos are considerate & courteous. So bring your bikes, ride a camino, you won't regret it y buen camino.

Just to add to @Skinnybiker 's summary, the day of the week has an effect as well. Weekends are when the locals are out in force on their bikes too. What we might consider "the Camino" is often a local track which either has been superimposed on the camino or the camino has been re-routed onto a local track for safety/convenience.

So take some care during weekends in May and September.
 

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