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Cycling the Coastal in May 2022

stevewarne

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portugal Coastal Camino (2022)
My girlfriend and I cycled the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. It took us 6 days and we finished on May 30, 2022. This trip report is for anyone who may be interested in doing the same.

To frame this properly my girlfriend, Cheri, and I are avid long-distance cyclists. I’m 67, she is 65. My longest ride was 1,014 miles through the UK (the LEJOG). We ride at a casual pace, do not care for traveling on busy roads, and avoid steep hills where possible. Many of these restrictions are the result of being older, more careful, and probably a bit less capable. Because of this, we decided on the Senda Littoral route since it is flatter than the Coastal or Central.

Overview

Our trip took 6 days and consisted of 40 miles from Porto to Esposende, 32 miles to Caminha, 25 miles to Baiona, 26 miles to Pontevedra (with van transfer from Redondela to Pontevedra), 26 miles to Padron, and 17 miles to Santiago.

We rented our bikes from Cycling-Rentals, and had our luggage forwarded each day using Tuitrans. The bikes were hybrids (Cheri’s had a front suspension, mine did not). Both had 35mm wide tires which were adequate for our route.

We transported 2 suitcases with Tuitrans which were a chore to pack each day—just too much stuff.

I used a Garmin Edge 530 to help us not get lost. We had bike lights and, most of the time, wore safety vests.

Planning

We developed a GPS track for our Garmin device. In researching the track, we found that some areas where walkers go, cyclists can’t (or shouldn’t); many boardwalks are closed to bikes; some paths are too rugged or narrow; and one-way streets needed to be circumvented. There are a number of GPS tracks to download from various websites, but many of these follow the Coastal route, or take you on busy highways, or are just not good bike routes as mentioned above. So, we came up with a modified version of the Senda Littoral route. This modified track takes advantage of the many new cycle paths that have been built along the ocean in Portugal in recent years.

Our track worked out great except for the second day between Marinhas and the Rio Neiva. The road next to the beach seemed to evaporate and we had to push our bikes through beach sand and farmers’ fields. At one point we went inland to avoid more of the same, and got lost. Our mis-steps added about 4 hours to an already long day.

Observations

This was probably the best cycle trip we’ve ever done, notwithstanding day 2. The weather was fantastic—sunny but moderate during the day, and cool at night. It only rained a bit on the last day into Santiago. The views along the Atlantic were spectacular. As we went along, it seemed to change at every turn from city-scape (Porto) to wide open beaches. Then from rugged rocky coastline to remote grassy dunes. There were built up resort towns, small fishing villages, and protected eco-parks. And, a wealth of heritage architecture in the forts, churches, monasteries, and artifacts we saw along the way. Some say the coastline can get boring, but we didn’t see it that way. Maybe being on a bike is different because you are moving faster.

We were surprised at how beautiful the paths were through Portugal. Apparently, Portugal spent the past two years during the Covid pandemic building new pedestrian and bike paths along the ocean. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see them on Google Maps yet.

There were a few hills. Notable ones were just North of A Guarda, several in and around Vigo, and of course on the last day as the path climbed up toward Santiago. The minor hills we rode up—the steep ones we walked. None were a big issue.

One area of concern was transiting through Vigo because it is a larger city. It turned out not to be a problem because we went through on a Sunday—which I would recommend—as traffic was minimal. We also followed the park paths along the Rio Lagares which extends through the city and keeps you off busy streets. There is only about a mile of city street riding, and here you can just stay on the sidewalks and ride slow if you are nervous about traffic.

Note that you are not supposed to ride on sidewalks unless marked as such, or unless it is wide (I think 5 meters), but if you go slow and don’t endanger anyone, no one will say anything.

Overall, for the entire trip, it seemed cars were very respectful of bicycles and we didn’t feel uncomfortable on the occasions we rode in traffic.

Don’t miss a chance to ride on a boardwalk. I thought they would be bumpy and uncomfortable, but they were a blast. In fact, I felt I should be paying someone for the experience.

Some boardwalks had steps but since we were traveling light, it wasn’t too hard to carry our bikes up. Walking a bike down steps was easy if you kept one hand on the rear brake lever. If you have full paniers, steps could be a problem depending on your strength.

One downside of cycling the Camino is that you tend not to connect with people in the same way as walkers do. You go past walkers and say hello and chat a bit, but then you are on your way. And, we only saw a few other bikers. On the other hand, perhaps you have more time for personal reflection. I don’t think this detracted from the experience for us because in the evenings, we met many interesting people at pubs and restaurants and had some very interesting conversations.

Highlights

Obviously coming into Santiago de Compostela at the end was the biggest highlight, however, other great moments were as follows:

  • Riding the narrow streets from the Se’ Cathedral in Porto to the river; and the beautiful paths, parks, and promenades to Matosinho. Don’t miss this section.
  • The Eco Park area going north from Esposende was beautiful. Wide paths winding through pine forest and grassy dunes.
  • The boardwalks coming into Ancora and the path crossing Rio Ancora were a blast. It was like an amusement park ride.
  • The private ferry crossing the Minho River into Spain (7 Euros) is the way to go for a cyclist. Arrange a ride by sending Miguel a WhatsApp message at +351 913 254 110. The pickup is near the Barracuda bar. The boat drops you on the beach and you head left (West) to the Hotel El Molino. There you find a boardwalk for a pleasant ride around the peninsula and into A Guarda. This avoids riding on busy roads into A Guarda from the public ferry landing.
  • I vote Baiona as the prettiest city along the route. There’s a lots to see and do here. We stayed at the Parador Baiona. The Parador and the grounds are so vast that it would take the better part of a day to explore.
  • The views from the hills North of Vigo near the Ponte de Rande bridge were incredible and the paths into Redondela from there were some of the best.
  • Yes, Santiago de Compostela was the ultimate. You need to stay here at least 2 days to see enough. I’m not sure but I think there is a café, pub, or restaurant every 5 feet in this city.
  • Every town and city along the way had tremendous character including Vila do Conde, Povoa de Varzim, Viana do Castelo, and Camhina. At each of these, we wished we could stay a day or two to explore. But, unfortunately, our schedule was fixed.
  • Loved Super Bock beer in Portugal, and Estrella Galicia beer in Spain. Didn’t like the grilled Sardines and Anchovies. Sorry.
Recommendations

1) Make sure you have a good bell on your bike. Many walkers use headphones and will not hear a quiet bell. Pass with extreme care as it’s your responsibility, as a passer, to avoid an accident.

2) Don’t miss the ride from Porto to Matosinho along the river and Atlantic coast.

3) Take the ferry across the river Limia into Viana do Castelo to avoid riding in traffic across the narrow Ponte Eiffel bridge. The ferry dock is near Restaurante Foz. You can buy a beer at a shack next to the ferry dock. Retired local men hang out there and were fun to chat with.

4) If you run out of energy or have issues with your bike, just call a cab. We had a problem on one day and it cost 25 Euros to haul us and our bikes 6 miles to the next hotel. Lesson: don’t kill yourself.

5) Be prepared for a flat tire and know how to fix it. We had one flat.

6) There is a volunteer delegation for English speakers at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago. I’m not sure who sponsors it but when you go the Pilgrim’s Office and a representative hears you speak English, they will invite you upstairs for coffee/tea and to chat about your experience. We did this and found it to be a pleasant addition to the overall experience. Anyway, take advantage of this if it’s offered.

7) Don’t forget your mask for the Pilgrims office. If you do, you can buy one across the street for 20 cents. If you are nice to them, it’s free.

8) We thought flat pedals worked best for us since we were on a lot of dirt and sandy roads. Maybe clips for someone riding faster and on more streets. Hybrid bikes worked well. Pure mountain bikes might be overkill, but would work.

9) Be mindful that in Portugal and Spain people eat later. So, opening and closing times are very different than in the USA. Many restaurants are not open Sundays and Mondays. Don’t always expect to find a café open at 7 am.

Would we do this again? What would we Change?

The answer is emphatically yes, we would do this again! We would research a better way to get from Esposende to Caminha to avoid the pathless beach and farmland areas. OK, we probably just missed the paths.

We’d bring less clothes (we were overly prepared for cold and wind).

The first 2 days combined were 72 miles. Breaking this into 3 days at roughly 24 miles per day would make this a more pleasant 7-day trip.

Restaurants of Note

  • Armazém do Caffè in Leça da Palmeira across river from Matosinho (9.4 miles from start in Porto) is a good place for your 1st tea break (code for beer break if it’s afternoon).
  • Restaurante Castro de São Paio, (17 miles from Porto) is a great place for a tea break or lunch. Sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean. A bit upscale. You may need reservations if it’s busy.
  • Brejuinha - Feel The Nature is a restaurant West of Anha. It is in a remote area in a park-like setting. Comfortable outdoor patio. Excellent food and atmosphere.
  • Between A Guarda and the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Oia is the restaurant Explanada do horizonte. Overlooks the ocean and is a great place for a tea break.
  • O Peñasco restaurant along PO-552 just after Barcelos, and about 6 miles before Baiona. Good restaurant with a nice veranda to eat on.
  • Restaurant at Parador de Baiona. Elegant, expensive, but a great experience in fine dining.
  • Coffee Runners café in Vigo. Perfect place in Vigo to stop for tea break and/or lunch. Large city park across the street.
  • O Cuberto is a small out of the way restaurant on the bike/pedestrian path before Caldas de Reis. Great place for a tea break. Casual, dog friendly patio area to relax. Lots of Pilgrims here.
  • Cafetería Termas in Caldas de Reis. Overlooking the bridge and river. Great service and good food.
  • Café Novegil is between Padron and Santiago. You’ll be in a hurry to get to Santiago and this is a quick and convenient place to stop for a tea break.
Hotels of Note

All of them were exceptional, including the Parador Baiona and Parador Pontevedra, but a special call out to Dukes Corner Guest House in Porto and Casa Antigua in Padron. The first being a small guest house in Porto of exceptional character, and the second a boutique-ish hotel in Padron. Both of these accommodations had separate sitting rooms and balconies. Both had a garden area to relax with a glass of wine. Both were exceptional values.
 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
2022 Camino Guides
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Heather R.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
My girlfriend and I cycled the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. It took us 6 days and we finished on May 30, 2022. This trip report is for anyone who may be interested in doing the same.

To frame this properly my girlfriend, Cheri, and I are avid long-distance cyclists. I’m 67, she is 65. My longest ride was 1,014 miles through the UK (the LEJOG). We ride at a casual pace, do not care for traveling on busy roads, and avoid steep hills where possible. Many of these restrictions are the result of being older, more careful, and probably a bit less capable. Because of this, we decided on the Senda Littoral route since it is flatter than the Coastal or Central.

Overview

Our trip took 6 days and consisted of 40 miles from Porto to Esposende, 32 miles to Caminha, 25 miles to Baiona, 26 miles to Pontevedra (with van transfer from Redondela to Pontevedra), 26 miles to Padron, and 17 miles to Santiago.

We rented our bikes from Cycling-Rentals, and had our luggage forwarded each day using Tuitrans. The bikes were hybrids (Cheri’s had a front suspension, mine did not). Both had 35mm wide tires which were adequate for our route.

We transported 2 suitcases with Tuitrans which were a chore to pack each day—just too much stuff.

I used a Garmin Edge 530 to help us not get lost. We had bike lights and, most of the time, wore safety vests.

Planning

We developed a GPS track for our Garmin device. In researching the track, we found that some areas where walkers go, cyclists can’t (or shouldn’t); many boardwalks are closed to bikes; some paths are too rugged or narrow; and one-way streets needed to be circumvented. There are a number of GPS tracks to download from various websites, but many of these follow the Coastal route, or take you on busy highways, or are just not good bike routes as mentioned above. So, we came up with a modified version of the Senda Littoral route. This modified track takes advantage of the many new cycle paths that have been built along the ocean in Portugal in recent years.

Our track worked out great except for the second day between Marinhas and the Rio Neiva. The road next to the beach seemed to evaporate and we had to push our bikes through beach sand and farmers’ fields. At one point we went inland to avoid more of the same, and got lost. Our mis-steps added about 4 hours to an already long day.

Observations

This was probably the best cycle trip we’ve ever done, notwithstanding day 2. The weather was fantastic—sunny but moderate during the day, and cool at night. It only rained a bit on the last day into Santiago. The views along the Atlantic were spectacular. As we went along, it seemed to change at every turn from city-scape (Porto) to wide open beaches. Then from rugged rocky coastline to remote grassy dunes. There were built up resort towns, small fishing villages, and protected eco-parks. And, a wealth of heritage architecture in the forts, churches, monasteries, and artifacts we saw along the way. Some say the coastline can get boring, but we didn’t see it that way. Maybe being on a bike is different because you are moving faster.

We were surprised at how beautiful the paths were through Portugal. Apparently, Portugal spent the past two years during the Covid pandemic building new pedestrian and bike paths along the ocean. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see them on Google Maps yet.

There were a few hills. Notable ones were just North of A Guarda, several in and around Vigo, and of course on the last day as the path climbed up toward Santiago. The minor hills we rode up—the steep ones we walked. None were a big issue.

One area of concern was transiting through Vigo because it is a larger city. It turned out not to be a problem because we went through on a Sunday—which I would recommend—as traffic was minimal. We also followed the park paths along the Rio Lagares which extends through the city and keeps you off busy streets. There is only about a mile of city street riding, and here you can just stay on the sidewalks and ride slow if you are nervous about traffic.

Note that you are not supposed to ride on sidewalks unless marked as such, or unless it is wide (I think 5 meters), but if you go slow and don’t endanger anyone, no one will say anything.

Overall, for the entire trip, it seemed cars were very respectful of bicycles and we didn’t feel uncomfortable on the occasions we rode in traffic.

Don’t miss a chance to ride on a boardwalk. I thought they would be bumpy and uncomfortable, but they were a blast. In fact, I felt I should be paying someone for the experience.

Some boardwalks had steps but since we were traveling light, it wasn’t too hard to carry our bikes up. Walking a bike down steps was easy if you kept one hand on the rear brake lever. If you have full paniers, steps could be a problem depending on your strength.

One downside of cycling the Camino is that you tend not to connect with people in the same way as walkers do. You go past walkers and say hello and chat a bit, but then you are on your way. And, we only saw a few other bikers. On the other hand, perhaps you have more time for personal reflection. I don’t think this detracted from the experience for us because in the evenings, we met many interesting people at pubs and restaurants and had some very interesting conversations.

Highlights

Obviously coming into Santiago de Compostela at the end was the biggest highlight, however, other great moments were as follows:

  • Riding the narrow streets from the Se’ Cathedral in Porto to the river; and the beautiful paths, parks, and promenades to Matosinho. Don’t miss this section.
  • The Eco Park area going north from Esposende was beautiful. Wide paths winding through pine forest and grassy dunes.
  • The boardwalks coming into Ancora and the path crossing Rio Ancora were a blast. It was like an amusement park ride.
  • The private ferry crossing the Minho River into Spain (7 Euros) is the way to go for a cyclist. Arrange a ride by sending Miguel a WhatsApp message at +351 913 254 110. The pickup is near the Barracuda bar. The boat drops you on the beach and you head left (West) to the Hotel El Molino. There you find a boardwalk for a pleasant ride around the peninsula and into A Guarda. This avoids riding on busy roads into A Guarda from the public ferry landing.
  • I vote Baiona as the prettiest city along the route. There’s a lots to see and do here. We stayed at the Parador Baiona. The Parador and the grounds are so vast that it would take the better part of a day to explore.
  • The views from the hills North of Vigo near the Ponte de Rande bridge were incredible and the paths into Redondela from there were some of the best.
  • Yes, Santiago de Compostela was the ultimate. You need to stay here at least 2 days to see enough. I’m not sure but I think there is a café, pub, or restaurant every 5 feet in this city.
  • Every town and city along the way had tremendous character including Vila do Conde, Povoa de Varzim, Viana do Castelo, and Camhina. At each of these, we wished we could stay a day or two to explore. But, unfortunately, our schedule was fixed.
  • Loved Super Bock beer in Portugal, and Estrella Galicia beer in Spain. Didn’t like the grilled Sardines and Anchovies. Sorry.
Recommendations

1) Make sure you have a good bell on your bike. Many walkers use headphones and will not hear a quiet bell. Pass with extreme care as it’s your responsibility, as a passer, to avoid an accident.

2) Don’t miss the ride from Porto to Matosinho along the river and Atlantic coast.

3) Take the ferry across the river Limia into Viana do Castelo to avoid riding in traffic across the narrow Ponte Eiffel bridge. The ferry dock is near Restaurante Foz. You can buy a beer at a shack next to the ferry dock. Retired local men hang out there and were fun to chat with.

4) If you run out of energy or have issues with your bike, just call a cab. We had a problem on one day and it cost 25 Euros to haul us and our bikes 6 miles to the next hotel. Lesson: don’t kill yourself.

5) Be prepared for a flat tire and know how to fix it. We had one flat.

6) There is a volunteer delegation for English speakers at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago. I’m not sure who sponsors it but when you go the Pilgrim’s Office and a representative hears you speak English, they will invite you upstairs for coffee/tea and to chat about your experience. We did this and found it to be a pleasant addition to the overall experience. Anyway, take advantage of this if it’s offered.

7) Don’t forget your mask for the Pilgrims office. If you do, you can buy one across the street for 20 cents. If you are nice to them, it’s free.

8) We thought flat pedals worked best for us since we were on a lot of dirt and sandy roads. Maybe clips for someone riding faster and on more streets. Hybrid bikes worked well. Pure mountain bikes might be overkill, but would work.

9) Be mindful that in Portugal and Spain people eat later. So, opening and closing times are very different than in the USA. Many restaurants are not open Sundays and Mondays. Don’t always expect to find a café open at 7 am.

Would we do this again? What would we Change?

The answer is emphatically yes, we would do this again! We would research a better way to get from Esposende to Caminha to avoid the pathless beach and farmland areas. OK, we probably just missed the paths.

We’d bring less clothes (we were overly prepared for cold and wind).

The first 2 days combined were 72 miles. Breaking this into 3 days at roughly 24 miles per day would make this a more pleasant 7-day trip.

Restaurants of Note

  • Armazém do Caffè in Leça da Palmeira across river from Matosinho (9.4 miles from start in Porto) is a good place for your 1st tea break (code for beer break if it’s afternoon).
  • Restaurante Castro de São Paio, (17 miles from Porto) is a great place for a tea break or lunch. Sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean. A bit upscale. You may need reservations if it’s busy.
  • Brejuinha - Feel The Nature is a restaurant West of Anha. It is in a remote area in a park-like setting. Comfortable outdoor patio. Excellent food and atmosphere.
  • Between A Guarda and the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Oia is the restaurant Explanada do horizonte. Overlooks the ocean and is a great place for a tea break.
  • O Peñasco restaurant along PO-552 just after Barcelos, and about 6 miles before Baiona. Good restaurant with a nice veranda to eat on.
  • Restaurant at Parador de Baiona. Elegant, expensive, but a great experience in fine dining.
  • Coffee Runners café in Vigo. Perfect place in Vigo to stop for tea break and/or lunch. Large city park across the street.
  • O Cuberto is a small out of the way restaurant on the bike/pedestrian path before Caldas de Reis. Great place for a tea break. Casual, dog friendly patio area to relax. Lots of Pilgrims here.
  • Cafetería Termas in Caldas de Reis. Overlooking the bridge and river. Great service and good food.
  • Café Novegil is between Padron and Santiago. You’ll be in a hurry to get to Santiago and this is a quick and convenient place to stop for a tea break.
Hotels of Note

All of them were exceptional, including the Parador Baiona and Parador Pontevedra, but a special call out to Dukes Corner Guest House in Porto and Casa Antigua in Padron. The first being a small guest house in Porto of exceptional character, and the second a boutique-ish hotel in Padron. Both of these accommodations had separate sitting rooms and balconies. Both had a garden area to relax with a glass of wine. Both were exceptional values.
Aloha Steve,
Thank you for writing this very helpful post. I am booked to cycle the Camino in Sept from Porto (coastal). I am using a tour group and started training 2 weeks ago. I haven't been on a bike in years so it's a bit of a challenge. Today, however, I cycled 20 miles. I understand the ADD (average daily distance) is 30 miles. It's also over six days. Any training tips you can share.
Mahalo,
Heather
 

orangecountymark

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May, 2020
Aloha Steve,
Thank you for writing this very helpful post. I am booked to cycle the Camino in Sept from Porto (coastal). I am using a tour group and started training 2 weeks ago. I haven't been on a bike in years so it's a bit of a challenge. Today, however, I cycled 20 miles. I understand the ADD (average daily distance) is 30 miles. It's also over six days. Any training tips you can share.
Mahalo,
Heather
Hi Heather
NOTE due to my knees we used Pedal assist ebikes in Eco mode. (An opinion from another reader age 65 - my wife and I did a 350 mile trip last summer and averaged 30 miles per day. We trained for two and a half months riding 3 or 4 days per week and other body weight exercises and walks on other days. Since we were going to packing our own gear during the real ride we did train with weighted bags. Our practice rides started at 10 to 12 miles and we built up to 25 miles. We practiced on some hills so we would be prepared for those as well. Loaded our bikes were a total of 70 pounds so in Eco power hills were tough. Long story short we were totally ready. At the end of the ride we really were glad we put in the work and honestly we were bummed we were done. Honestly we could have done it again. We took our time on the ride and had extra energy to do side trips as well. Just put in the work and you will enjoy it more. I can’t speak for non Ebikes. Hope this is somewhat helpful.
 

Corned Beef

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
C. Norte Sept/2022
It's all about weight; elevation climbed; distance; and your desire to sit for a number of hours.

1/ The difference between an ebike and a standard bike is about 10kg (12kg versus 22kg) so most people can do 20-30 miles on a standard bike and about 30-40 on an ebike.

2/ There are more serious climbs in Galicia than in Portugal. The last section into Santiago is annoying as you just want to get there - and it's uphill.

3/ Panniers are in the range of 10kg - 15 kg depending on how much clothing you like to take plus bike tools. If you *think* you are not fit, get your bags taken by Tuitrans / Correos between accommodation.

So if you intend to travel light (i.e. using bag transport) then climbs and not distance would be the best training. Though there is merit in learning to walk your bike *safely* if you need to get off and push.

Ebikes are good but not necessarily worth the extra weight if you need to push/carry them. So I would say the best training / learning is to work out how much bike dead weight you can handle in an emergency and hope not to have to do it.

Did this route last year, non-E, carrying panniers in Portugal only. 25-30 miles/day is achievable. Steve's splits above are ideal. If you want to shorten the first day to Esposende you can take the Porto Metro out to one of the outlying towns and start from there. Or split the first day.

 

stevewarne

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portugal Coastal Camino (2022)
It's all about weight; elevation climbed; distance; and your desire to sit for a number of hours.

1/ The difference between an ebike and a standard bike is about 10kg (12kg versus 22kg) so most people can do 20-30 miles on a standard bike and about 30-40 on an ebike.

2/ There are more serious climbs in Galicia than in Portugal. The last section into Santiago is annoying as you just want to get there - and it's uphill.

3/ Panniers are in the range of 10kg - 15 kg depending on how much clothing you like to take plus bike tools. If you *think* you are not fit, get your bags taken by Tuitrans / Correos between accommodation.

So if you intend to travel light (i.e. using bag transport) then climbs and not distance would be the best training. Though there is merit in learning to walk your bike *safely* if you need to get off and push.

Ebikes are good but not necessarily worth the extra weight if you need to push/carry them. So I would say the best training / learning is to work out how much bike dead weight you can handle in an emergency and hope not to have to do it.

Did this route last year, non-E, carrying panniers in Portugal only. 25-30 miles/day is achievable. Steve's splits above are ideal. If you want to shorten the first day to Esposende you can take the Porto Metro out to one of the outlying towns and start from there. Or split the first day.

Heather, thank you for the question. I think there are 2 aspects of the training to consider. One is physical training so that you have the endurance to do the 30 or so miles each day, and then there is what my trainer calls time-in-the-saddle. The first one is pretty basic and can involve either outdoor or indoor training rides. Indoor meaning on a Peloton, Kinetic, Wahoo, or similar trainer. If you are already in pretty good shape, you may not have too much to worry about since 30 miles a day isn’t excessive. Some caveats on that I’ll mention later.

The time-in-the-saddle, however, is very important especially if you haven’t ridden in a while. This involves getting out and riding in similar conditions to your tour, i.e., on dirt roads, cobble stones, city streets, and with other riders. I’ve always noticed that at the beginning of every year, I’m a little shaky riding in traffic and riding with other cyclists and I sometimes make stupid mistakes. After a few rides I start to get my confidence back, make smarter decisions, and become a safer rider. So, no matter how good of shape you are in, it’s just a good idea to get out and ride a bunch before your tour, even if they are not endurance type rides.

On the physical conditioning, the suggestions from orangecountymark and Corned Beef are good. Just come up with a training plan that builds your endurance. One note on our trip is that one day, the combination of heat and pushing bikes through sand made it feel like we rode 60 miles and not 32. So be prepared for heat and possible dehydration. I’ve gotten dehydrated on tours and it’s not pleasant. Drinking water continuously should be part of your training because if you wait until you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.

One last note—I said 30 miles a day isn’t excessive, but that depends on how you are pushing yourself. Until you are used to the mileage, take your time, stop often, and spread the mileage out across the day. Going too fast will burn you out quicker.

That’s all I can think of. I wish you a safe and fun trip. Please post on how it goes.
 
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Heather R.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi Heather
NOTE due to my knees we used Pedal assist ebikes in Eco mode. (An opinion from another reader age 65 - my wife and I did a 350 mile trip last summer and averaged 30 miles per day. We trained for two and a half months riding 3 or 4 days per week and other body weight exercises and walks on other days. Since we were going to packing our own gear during the real ride we did train with weighted bags. Our practice rides started at 10 to 12 miles and we built up to 25 miles. We practiced on some hills so we would be prepared for those as well. Loaded our bikes were a total of 70 pounds so in Eco power hills were tough. Long story short we were totally ready. At the end of the ride we really were glad we put in the work and honestly we were bummed we were done. Honestly we could have done it again. We took our time on the ride and had extra energy to do side trips as well. Just put in the work and you will enjoy it more. I can’t speak for non Ebikes. Hope this is somewhat helpful.
Thank you for your tips. I hope I'm not making a mistake trying it with a regular bike. If I have to, I will walk my bike up the hills.
 

Heather R.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
It's all about weight; elevation climbed; distance; and your desire to sit for a number of hours.

1/ The difference between an ebike and a standard bike is about 10kg (12kg versus 22kg) so most people can do 20-30 miles on a standard bike and about 30-40 on an ebike.

2/ There are more serious climbs in Galicia than in Portugal. The last section into Santiago is annoying as you just want to get there - and it's uphill.

3/ Panniers are in the range of 10kg - 15 kg depending on how much clothing you like to take plus bike tools. If you *think* you are not fit, get your bags taken by Tuitrans / Correos between accommodation.

So if you intend to travel light (i.e. using bag transport) then climbs and not distance would be the best training. Though there is merit in learning to walk your bike *safely* if you need to get off and push.

Ebikes are good but not necessarily worth the extra weight if you need to push/carry them. So I would say the best training / learning is to work out how much bike dead weight you can handle in an emergency and hope not to have to do it.

Did this route last year, non-E, carrying panniers in Portugal only. 25-30 miles/day is achievable. Steve's splits above are ideal. If you want to shorten the first day to Esposende you can take the Porto Metro out to one of the outlying towns and start from there. Or split the first day.

Good advice. Thank you
 

Heather R.

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Heather, thank you for the question. I think there are 2 aspects of the training to consider. One is physical training so that you have the endurance to do the 30 or so miles each day, and then there is what my trainer calls time-in-the-saddle. The first one is pretty basic and can involve either outdoor or indoor training rides. Indoor meaning on a Peloton, Kinetic, Wahoo, or similar trainer. If you are already in pretty good shape, you may not have too much to worry about since 30 miles a day isn’t excessive. Some caveats on that I’ll mention later.

The time-in-the-saddle, however, is very important especially if you haven’t ridden in a while. This involves getting out and riding in similar conditions to your tour, i.e., on dirt roads, cobble stones, city streets, and with other riders. I’ve always noticed that at the beginning of every year, I’m a little shaky riding in traffic and riding with other cyclists and I sometimes make stupid mistakes. After a few rides I start to get my confidence back, make smarter decisions, and become a safer rider. So, no matter how good of shape you are in, it’s just a good idea to get out and ride a bunch before your tour, even if they are not endurance type rides.

On the physical conditioning, the suggestions from orangecountymark and Corned Beef are good. Just come up with a training plan that builds your endurance. One note on our trip is that one day, the combination of heat and pushing bikes through sand made it feel like we rode 60 miles and not 32. So be prepared for heat and possible dehydration. I’ve gotten dehydrated on tours and it’s not pleasant. Drinking water continuously should be part of your training because if you wait until you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.

One last note—I said 30 miles a day isn’t excessive, but that depends on how you are pushing yourself. Until you are used to the mileage, take your time, stop often, and spread the mileage out across the day. Going too fast will burn you out quicker.

That’s all I can think of. I wish you a safe and fun trip. Please post on how it goes.
Thank you so much. I can tell I'm getting stronger. I'm riding 3 days a week right now and plan to increase to 4 next week. I can ride 20 miles at a time and will increase it this weekend to 25. On the other days, I'm walking. I live in Hawaii so I'm riding in sun and then rain and sun again all in one ride. All of the comments here have been very much appreciated. Mahalo nui loa
 

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