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Cycling various Caminos-Good, Better, and Best

Discussion in 'Biking the Camino' started by newfydog, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
    I thought I’d start posting summaries of the routes we have biked, and comment on how various caminos, chemins, wegs and vias go on a bike. I hope others will pitch in and describe routes they have done.

    This description is of course totally biased to my perspective, so I had better describe that up front, so you know what sort of filter to apply to my comments. My wife and I have done bike tours for many years. My first one was a ride across Sweden and Norway in 1973. My wife once left me home to work and spent the whole summer biking around France. Now, we are experienced, but in the 60 year range and not looking for physical challenges as much a pleasant trips, tooling along at 30 to 80 km per day and taking day off from time to time. At home we ride road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes, but on the pilgrimage routes we ride mountain bikes and don’t mind spending hard days to remain on the designated trail. Long sets of stairs and massive amounts of mud are the main reason we detour from the route. We don’t have much interest in paved alternative routes for road bikes.

    We don’t tour in the high tourist season much---most of our trips were spring or fall. Also, although we have camped one some of these trips, and stayed in some pilgrim accommodations, we are at a time of our lives when we have the privilege of a flexible budget, so we can’t offer a good comparison of costs of the various routes. We are more qualified on commenting on how to make the trip unnecessarily expensive!

    Finally, on the Camino Frances, the crowds have reached sufficient levels to that inconsiderate bikers and hikers can negatively impact each other’s experiences. I feel that with a bit of respect for each other everyone can co-exist quite well, but am realistic enough to know the issue won’t go way. Fortunately, outside of the high season and last 100 km of the Frances most of these trails can still be described as lonely.

    I’ll post our routes as I write them up. Please feel free to post your own opinion of the routes, and let’s see if we can get out some different perspectives without thread degeneration. I’m really hoping to get ideas for future trips.

    I'll be posting on trips from Prague to Santiago, and Santiago to Rome.
     

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  2. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Camino Frances

    Beginners---A-
    Experienced—A
    Hard Core mountain biker--- C

    795 KM, Took us 12 days

    The Camino Frances is unique among all the pilgrimage trails we have done. It is far far busier than the others.
    The Standard Camino Frances is one of the best long bike routes in the world. It is fairly easy, and I’ve seen it done nicely by first time cyclo-tourists, as well as riders on bikes not particularly well suited to rough off road riding. The popularity of the route has some upsides, in that food and lodging can be found everywhere. The churches are usually open. If you have a problem, someone will come along and help. The marking is great, and the route takes you in and out of towns on wonderful back roads and paths, options one would never find on a self-planned route. Finally, all those people are a diverse group of interesting people; you may well enjoy meeting quite a few of them.

    The riding is mostly on dirt, some on wide, dedicated walking trails, but the tractor trails of the local farmers make up the majority of the km’s. A skilled biker can go nearly the entire trip without pushing a bike, but most will do some of that every day. A few detours make sense, but none are needed.

    The only people I discourage from biking the Frances are those not particularly interested in a cultural trip, who would compare it to other bike trips for the physical and geographical riding rather than the whole picture. (I once met a cyclist whose first comment was “the biking is better around Moab, Utah”.

    It can be full of people, and to ride it properly, expect to slow down to walking pace, say hello, and pass carefully many times a day. Also have a bike bell, and learn it ring it in a manner which says, “I’m here, don’t let me startle you”, rather than “ding ding ding commin’ through!” Impatient riders should do it in the winter.

    Lodging spans the entire range of budgets. Just be aware that if you want to stay in albergues in the high season, some give walkers priority. There are discrete places to camp, but not that many official campsites. There are many low to high end alternatives.

    Ride this route and you'll soon be back to do others!




    Edit: Here's a write-up I did on the route a few years ago:

    Notes from the Camino


    The route, bike and tires

    I looked all over the web trying to figure out if the Camino was best on road or mountain bikes and what tires to use, and never found a decent answer. There are tour groups and road cycling groups riding the route and the paralleling roads who try to make a case for road bikes but I think it would be a big mistake to use anything but a mountain bike with full size mountain bike tires. The route is not difficult mountain biking, more often it is on a dirt road rather than a hiking trail. There is not much pavement, maybe 10% in the first half and 30% for the rest of it. It is a wonderful ride and it would be a shame to miss it by riding the roads. There are people who ride road bikes on paved alternative routes, but unlike France, where the roads are wonderful, much of the route is crowded with high speed truck traffic. We followed the walker's route 95% of the way, and only walked our bikes about 2 km in the entire trip.

    I would use a 1.9-2.2 tire with small to medium knobs in the rear and a 1.9- 2.2 mountain bike racing tire with side knobs and a smoother center in the front. The first year we had a 1.5 rear tire with road tread in the rear and a side knob front tire and bought full sized rear tires halfway through the trip. Last year we had mountain bike racing tires with very little tread and were happy until it rained, when we again bought some knobby rear tires.

    Pamplona to Santiago is about 800 kms. There is a fair bit of up and down every day, even away from the mountains because every ancient town is on a hilltop for defense. It took us 13 days hauling camping gear and 11 days with lighter bikes. We didn’t bike all day and sometimes quit after lunch to be tourists.

    Accommodations

    One can do the Camino very cheaply staying in the church sponsored refugios. The refugios are packed full of students, and they won't allow cyclists to stay until it is dark and all the walkers have arrived. Then they lock up at 10:00, just when the restaurants are opening! The upside is they are almost free.

    There are many places to stay along the way in the 25-50 Euro range. The word Hostel is not like a youth hostel but rather translates to motel. Many bars and restaurants have nice rooms upstairs. The only time we have had trouble is on Saturdays, particularly if a wedding or fiesta is in town.

    The Paradores are something worth splurging on. They are 90-150 euros but are fabulous. We stayed in Santo Domingo in a building built by Santo Domingo himself, and we stayed in Santiago in the oldest hotel in the world, a hotel built by Isabelle and Ferdinand for pilgrims in 1499. There is a Paradore in Leon which looks interesting.

    I would not bring camping gear. When in France, we frequently find a nice campground in town and eat dinner at the fancy hotel. On the Camino, refugios have eliminated much of the demand for campgrounds so often the only camping available is off in the wild with no facilities. The first year we carried camping gear and used it some, but it didn't save us much money because there are many nice cheap places to stay. Last year just we carried very light bags, and had no trouble finding good accommodations along the way.

    Guidebooks and tours
    You don't much need a guide book, you just follow the trail, which is well marked by blue and yellow "concha" shells and yellow arrows, and in some places shows the wear of 1000 years of pilgrims. Our favorite guides are the ones with a lot of history rather than trail directions. A book with the phone numbers of the motels might be nice if one was riding during the busy summer months but in the fall it is nice to just stay where you want to stop.

    There are a lot of tours offered but I don’t recommend them. This trip is just too easy to need a tour and they skip anything inconvenient for the vehicles.

    Pilgrims passport

    A pilgrim’s passport is a nice thing to have. All the bars and restaurants will stamp it and some hotels will give you a discount. One must have a passport to stay in the refugios. We got ours in LePuy but I know one can get them in St. Jean Pie de Port.


    The Route

    The first year we started in Pamplona but if one is in reasonable shape and has time the traditional start is in St. Jean Pie de Port. St. Jean is a nice town and the climb over the Pyrenees is beautiful. We rode the hikers route, most of which is paved, and, even rode the trail through the grassy alpine meadow at the top. A road biker from Germany went with us and made it without destroying his rims.

    From the ancient monastery at Roncevalles the route alternates between smooth graveled paths and some of the roughest trail of the trip. I would recommend leaving the trail for the road for much of the trip to Pamplona. Be sure to enter Pamplona on the trail, through the old town gate.

    From Pamplona to Burgos the trail is nearly all dirt, up and down many short hills and really nice riding. Be sure to take the left fork past Estella to see the Monastery and Bodega at Irache. The Bodega offers the Fuente del Vino, the wine fountain where you can fill your bike bottles with free wine.

    Coming into Burgos can be the worst part of the trip. The signs vanish and you get dumped onto a busy road. The arrows fork just after a large autostrade overpass. The left fork worked very well last year while the right fork was a mess the year before.

    Forty-two hilly km. Past Burgos is the bar restaurant La Taberna in Castrojerez. (Calle Gral. Mola, 43 phone 947-377610). We stayed upstairs both years (30 euro) and the owners, Jesus and Tono are really nice and the food is good. There is a ruined castle above the town worth hiking around. They came out and hugged us goodbye last year.
    From Burgos to Galicia cyclists realize how lucky they are to be on a bike. There are some long dry sections of good biking which would be a long lonely walk.

    Sahagun is a nasty town where the locals stay up all night screaming obscenities in the street. Just past Sahagun the trail forks to an interesting but rough Roman road to the north and a smoother renovated trail to the south. The south trail has a nice quiet new bar hostel in Bercianos del Real Camino.

    The old parts of Leon are very nice, I think more interesting than Burgos.

    There are two routes from Leon to Hospital de Orbiga. The southern route is much nicer than the northern route, which is right on a busy road. Just don’t miss the amazing bridge at Orbiga, where the knights jousted. There is a good hotel right on the west side of the bridge. There is another fork leaving Hospital de Orbiga with the northern route being good for mountain bikers and the southern route not too bad but again near the road. The northern route is not on some maps, but it the trails rejoin just before Astorga.

    The climb to the Cruz de Fer is the highest point. Many pilgrims bring a small rock from home to leave at the base of the cross, producing a true geologic wonder. We carried Oregon pumice, a rock light enough to float! The trail can be nasty but the road is very nice. Molinaseca is a great little town one the other side of the pass with few churches and at least 13 bars. Hostel Puenta Romana is new and right on the Roman bridge.

    The best octopus in the world is at the Pulperia in Cacabelos, just west of Ponferada. I think there may be two Pulperias in town but the good one has a nice metal octopus sign and a good hotel right across the street.

    The climb from Villa Franca del Bierzo to O Cebrero is mostly paved. There is a trail for the upper part but for a bike it is best to take the nearly abandoned road next to the trail. Pump the tires to road pressure this day! O Cebrero is interesting but a bit touristy and often in the fog. The descent to Triacastela will bring you to quieter cheaper places to stay. We have descended on the rough trail, but a short road detour makes a quick smooth ride down.

    The trail forks at Triacastela. The northern fork is the best ride of the whole trip. The southern route through Samos is supposed to be nice but on the main road. I wouldn’t miss the ancient roads to the north.

    Sarria is a charmless, working class town, though the hotel Roma is nice with the best steaks in Northern Spain. Just before Melide is a nice place out in the country called Casa de las Samosas. The owner, Jesus, offers clean rooms in a massive stone building and a nice patio bar and good dinners.

    From there Santiago is 75 km with 1440 meters of climbing, but the trail is great so it can be done in a day. Many pilgrims walk just the last 200 km so there are many places to stay towards the end of the trail.
    If there is a Botefumeiro ceremony at the cathedral in Santiago go early and get a good seat!

    Getting Home

    Cars can be rented fairly cheaply at the Parador but unfortunately, you can’t drop a car off in another country. A pilgrims passport will get you a discount on a plane ticket in Spain. We rented cars but the train might be the best option.
     

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  3. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    lepuy1.JPG lepuy3.JPG lepuy4.JPG Le Puy Route Voie Podensis GR 65

    Beginners-- B-
    Experienced-- A
    Hard core mountain biker-- B

    736 KM Took us 14 days

    The route from LePuy en Velay to the start of the Camino Frances in Saint Jean Pied de Port is part of the original route route travelled by Bishop Godescalc in 951. This is a beautiful route, growing in popularity. When we rode it we left the same day as a group of Swiss road cyclists who were riding the paved roads near the trail. It took us three days to get to their first stop, and we simply could not imagine missing that beautiful trail and great farms and hamlets for the busy road they took.

    Where many of the ancient towns in Spain are just a few ruins, this route has one perfect fairy-tale town after another.

    While the towns have the feel of the ancient pilgrimage stops they were, the trail can be a bit contrived. There was a piece out of Moissac where the main trail leaves a perfectly good river bottom for a hiking trail up to a radio tower. We felt certain no ancient pilgrim followed that path and stayed on the river bottom variante , following the tow path on the river. Other places it wanders excessively, just stringing together anything that could be used. Overall, however, it is a wonderful route, and while it is a bit harder than the Frances, it is very bikable. We took many small detours, but were on the marked trail for more than 90% of it. If you are into mountain biking, you’ll enjoy the route. Someone with a road orientation will probably detour a fair bit.

    In September we saw some tracks, but met no other cyclists. We saw hikers daily, but never very many. Lodging was easy to find, but the cheaper places are neither as cheap or plentiful as in Spain.

    In all, this route is our favorite.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  4. ciclista

    ciclista New Member

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  5. William Marques

    William Marques Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Via Francigena

    Beginners-- B-
    Experienced-- A
    Hard core mountain biker-- C

    The Via Francigena is similar in many ways to the Caminos and this is written as if you are going to undertake the whole route from Canterbury to Rome.

    Much of the route is on small country roads and this together with the lack of accommodation in North East France outside the towns means that until Besancon cycling is probably the best way to travel.

    From there South apart from the Po valley (a meseta like plain of 3 days cycling of rice fields infested at some times of year by mosquitoes) the walking is better if you have the time.

    The current situation that although there is a route there is not yet a defined path means that one does not feel a necessity to follow the walkers every step which would be dangerous in the Alps.

    There are many significant towns on the route including Reims, Lausanne, Aosta, Pavia, Piacenza, Lucca. Siena and Viterbo and lots more historic smaller towns and villages.

    A basic route description wouls be:
    Dover to Besancon - rolling or flat countryside.
    Besancon to Lausanne - Jura mountains
    Lausanne to Martigny - flat by Lake Geneva and Rhine
    Martigny to Aosta - Alps
    Aosta to Ivrea - Aosta Valley
    Ivrea to Fidenza - Po Valley or better described Po Plain
    Fidenza to Sarzana - Apennines
    Sarzana to Pietrasanta - Mediterranean Coast
    Pietrasanta to Acquapendente - Tuscan Hills
    Aquapendente to Rome - Lazio Hills

    The route is easily cycle-able in 4 weeks and much less for road cyclists in a hurry. I have marked it down for hard core mountain bikers because of the absence of defined tracks for cycling off road.
     
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  6. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Thanks William!,

    We did the southern part of the Francigena last year, and will do the northern part this May.

    Have not written it up yet but I agree with your nice description.

    Ciclista---Great Levante blog! I have my eye on that route but don't know much about it. Thanks for the contribution.
     
  7. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    I edited in some pictures to my previous posts.
     
  8. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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  9. Davroos

    Davroos Active Member

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    Thanks Newfy for the compliment !!!

    VDLP

    1025 ks ridden in 13 days

    Pretty easy in most parts as you are generally just following dirt roads, however there are technical bits and is quite hilly outside of Puebla de Sanabria. Once you enter Galicia, the tracks become rougher, more technical and very up/down.

    Beware of the weather on this route. In the summer, it will be scorching, in April, we had snow.

    For sites, constant Roman ruins, it is a dream, and the towns are amazing that you will pass through
     
  10. Davroos

    Davroos Active Member

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    il Primitivo

    Be prepared to push !!!

    330 ks in 5 days. I have done this twice

    There are many hills on this, day two takes you either up to Hospitales or down to Pola Allande and then you need to push up. day three involves more pushing whilst day four and five is undulating.

    The scenery on top of the mountains is great but be prepared for rain as this is the wettest part of Spain
     
  11. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Via Della Costa

    360 Km Nine days
    Beginner D
    Experienced B-
    Hardcore mountainbiker B

    Extending from the French Italian border, on the Mediterranean coast, to the town of Sarzana, where it joins the via Francigena, is the lesser known route of the via Della Costa. It is indeed a historical route, following the ancient Roman via Aurellian, but it was probably no more than a local collector for medieval pilgrims making their way to and from Rome. It crosses some rough terrain, and while the Romans indeed had a great road upon which they could move an army to Arles on short notice, the route quickly evaporated upon the fall of the Roman empire, the stones used for sheepherder huts and the like. The main route for St James pilgrimages was probably north of the coastal mountains. To us, it was a natural connection of the French Chemins St Jacques and the via Francigena. It would tie us from Rome to Santiago.

    Recently a group of Italians have done a nice job of marking out a route and putting together a guidebook and website.
    http://www.viadellacosta.it/

    Guidebook: La Via Della Costa by Monica D’Atti , Franco Cinti

    The route is fairly well marked, with our familiar blue and yellow shells.

    This is a bit of a schizophrenic route, which is less than ideal for either the cycling or walking pilgrim. The three personalities are:

    Inland Historical. The route goes inland from the coast in several areas, connecting little mountain villages, some clinging to the slopes in a manner similar to towns in the Nepalese Himalaya. Pieces of Roman road and bridges abound, and many of the towns are genuinely old, but holy crap, it is tough going. Some days we pushed our lightly loaded bikes more in a day than we did the entire Camino Frances.

    Coastal converted trail: We spent some idyllic days on the Italian Riviera, biking on dedicated pedestrian/bike routes right along the sea. These portions follow old rail beds and roads which have since been replaced by modern roads a bit inland, leaving the old road to be left to the non-motorized recreation. Some of what we rode was official via Della Costa, some was our detours escaping the tough inland route.

    Busy coastal roads: These portions are the routes undoing. There are sections where the only way to connect it up is to join all the trucks and buses and cars crowded into a narrow road, often with a cliff to the north and a guardrail to the south. The Italian drivers are tolerant of bikes, totally unaccustomed to backpackers, and life becomes miserable for everyone. The forty km west of Genoa is awful. If you walk it, take a bus through there, if you bike, well, starting at five am on a Sunday might be a good idea.

    Of course, east of Genoa one arrives in the magical land of the Cinque Terra, some of the most amazing walking villages in the world. We found these isolated fishing villages to be a bit hollowed out and touristy, but what scenery!

    I don't mean to scare anyone of this route. If you want to connect Rome to Santiago, the via Della Costa will get you there, but It is for the experienced pilgrim. I would say it would be perfect for a walking pilgrim who wasn’t too much of a purist to take the odd bus or train.

    We had no trouble finding nice places to stay (the agriturismos are wonderful), but we were not on a tight budget and we avoid church sponsored lodging. The society has put together a fairly good list of options, and if you can speak some Italian and plan ahead, cheaper lodging is out there.
     

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  12. Davroos

    Davroos Active Member

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    I'm looking for info on the del Norte. I don't have time to go off road and I want to push onto Fisterre and Muxia. 1000 Ks in 8 days, it is doable !!!
     
  13. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    A bit off topic, but I wanted to add this to the thread--

    Fostergn was good enough to post his video of the route from LePuy to Santiago. I find it hurts my eyes to watch, but it is the best description of the varied trail types I've seen.

    To me, the Caminos offer great mountain biking in part due to the fact that the route changes continuously from paved, to narrow muddy single tracks and everything in between. If you want an easy cruise or a road ride you won't find it following the yellow shells. Watch this video, and you'll know if biking these trails is for you or not:


    http://vimeo.com/56522540
     
  14. k-fun

    k-fun Active Member Donating Member

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    I am arriving in Barcelona on May 1 and want to bicycle from there to Santiago. Can someone recommend a route?

    Also, looking for a pilgrim's albergue in Barcelona. The one's listed on the Web seem to be youth hostels. Any suggestions?
     
  15. obinjatoo@yahoo.com

    obinjatoo@yahoo.com Veteran Member

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    Boy, I am really torn. I love riding but I also really enjoyed the walking when I left my bike in Leon and walked into Santiago. I did this in 2012 after cycling all the way to Leon from Bordeaux by way of San Jean. I fly into Paris on the 13th of August and need to be in Granon on the 1st of September. It would be a real push for me to cover that distance in 15 or 16 days on a bicycle even on good roads. I think it's about 600 miles. Has anyone cycled the Tunnel Route from Irun or Bayonne? I could take a train from Paris in about 8 hours. I also considered leaving the bike at home this time and just walking. But I wanted to continue from Santiago into Portugal.
    Ha ha ha... Tough life when I think about it. These are the decisions I have to make today. I live a charmed life. For this I am grateful and DO NOT take it for granted...
     
  16. Carolann

    Carolann New Member

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    Hey that would be amazing but very achievable, I'm looking to bike and can travel anytime but would love some company along the way.


    Sent from my iPad using Camino de Santiago Forum
     
  17. Saint Mike II

    Saint Mike II Vetran Member Donating Member

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    Hola Davroos - I saw the day 1 for your blog; do you have link to the section from Salamanca to SDC?
    Any tips for this last 400 km would be greatfully received.
    Cheers.
     
  18. Izabelamatusiak

    Izabelamatusiak New Member

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  19. Izabelamatusiak

    Izabelamatusiak New Member

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    Hello,
    I'm planning the Camino biking ride in 2016 with my husband and 15 year old daughter. What route would you recommend taking as a first tour, so we want to come back again and again? I don't mind harder paths as long there are not too overcrowded..I'm thinking to take the Camino early June next year..Do you have any recommendation as far as renting bikes go?
    Thank you in advance for your response
     
  20. JennyH94

    JennyH94 Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi newfydog - Fantastic thread - thank you so much for sharing all the such useful information and your tips. I know you've posted on Saint Mike II's thread on tires and want to say thanks for the information you've posted on that thread too. SMII and I are doing a bike camino this September and the sort of information you've shared is so, so helpful.
    A question: Do you and your wife routinely bring your own bikes from the US? After extensive research we're thinking this might be the best the way to go but there are so many pros and cons with this and the other options of buying bikes at our start point of Pamplona, or renting bikes. If you do bring your own bikes, do you have them boxed up or do you have soft bike bags / the hard bike case? We'd both be really interested to hear what you routinely do here.

    Thanks and cheers - Jenny
     
  21. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    We used to our bring bikes over and back, always in a cardboard bike box which we would chuck into the recycling at the airport. I think our current bikes have been over and back five times without getting lost or damaged. (The bikes before these were stolen out of a car in Australia, but I won't hold that against you!) To return we would go to a bike shop or department store and ask for a box. One Carrefour store in France unpacked some new bikes just to give us the box. I've seen people do ridiculous things to store and retrieve their fancy bike cases. I don't need them.

    Since the airlines have become so greedy and horrible with baggage, we found a place to store them in France. At least our bikes, if not us, have managed to retire to Provence!

    We would rather not rent bikes---my wife is like the Princess and the Pea with her bike---she can tell if something is a millimeter off. Our bikes have all the pieces in just the size we like and they are equipped with trail-dependable components, so it would he tough to ride something unknown.

    Here were are in Prague, after a zillion connections, some of which we had to sprint and cut lines to make. Somehow the bike were there when we arrived.

    bikes prague.JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
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  22. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Tough to say. For your first trip you'll want to get all the way to Santiago. The Frances is the only crowded route but it can be great a bit off season. I don't know the other Spanish routes such as the Levante, but they can be hot in the summer.

    You say you don't mind harder routes---have you all done a bike tour with gear together before?
     
  23. Izabelamatusiak

    Izabelamatusiak New Member

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    The only person who did it was me and it was 25 years ago but..we are rather tough..my husband can repair deal with the bikes..The heat would bother us so I'd like to avoid that if possible. Since my daughter is still in school we can do it from early June to mid August..but just for 2-3 weeks..If we were to go from France how long it would take us and what route would you recommend?
     
  24. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    "From the ancient monastery at Roncevalles the route alternates between smooth graveled paths and some of the roughest trail of the trip. I would recommend leaving the trail for the road for much of the trip to Pamplona. Be sure to enter Pamplona on the trail, through the old town gate."
    You recommend leaving the trail for much of the trip to Pamplona. Might be asking to much but can you elaborate on that and give a little more detail on where you would leave the trail and rejoin it etc?
     
  25. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Sorry, wish I could, but I remember it went from heavenly to hellish in a hurry. It has been a few years, and I suspect the trail conditions have changed anyway. It went from cruising on a smooth well maintained dirt path to a pile of rocks right when the hills got tough. Many of those sections have been fixed up.

    We always err on the side of staying on the trail. If it gets really rough, an alternative appears. When people ask how far we go in a day, we say 25 -100 km a day depending on the trail. Distance is really not a good measure of effort on a bike.
     

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  26. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    Once again thanks for a great write up. I read elsewhere that maybe the Norte is a better biking route than the Frances. Looks like you have not done it. If you have any thoughts on the comparison?

    Also when you did the Frances from a daily planning perspective did what did you use for tools, just your smart phone?
     
  27. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    We have not done the Norte. We have done the Frances twice, with no planning whatsoever.
     
  28. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    Like it seat of the pants stuff.
     
  29. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    A ? if you have the time.
    Concerning gearing on bikes. The bike I am thinking about buying has a front crank of 24 34 42 and a rear cassette 13 26 (28 max). Do you think bottom gearing of 24 at the front and 26 or maybe 28 will be low enough for the hills ecountered. I know that most Mt Bikes have 24 34 42 at the front and 11 32/34 at the rear.
     
  30. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Every time I get a lower gear, I use it. We have 24/36 on our bikes and use it somewhere every day. And we pack very light.

    With out a super low gear you will just have to push a few more sections.

    Re-reading your post, it sounds like it isn't a mt bike. If you are going to be on roads rather than the trail, those gears will be fine.
     
  31. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    They class it as Mt Bike! But after looking into it a bit more I think am going to pay a bit more. And the one I am looking at has a 22 32 42 crank and 11 * 32 cassette which I think is closer to the normal mt bike. Dont want to ride the roads all the time. By the way whats the climb like up to Orisson on a bike? People say its steep but how steep. What sort of grade is the road.
     
  32. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Nothing on the way to Roncevalles stands out in my mind as very steep. Even the grassy trail over the top rolled pretty well. Some other climbs, such as the Alto De Perdon and the climb after Villa Franca del Bierzo were tough. We rode those without walking our bikes but it took a big effort in the lowest gears.

    Here's the ride to Roncevaux, and here's something we walked:
    roncevaux.JPG km2.JPG
     
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  33. LVDWD

    LVDWD Member

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    Just finished biking the Camino started in Bayonne finished in Muxia so adding a few comments to add to Newfy Dogs excellent post. Comments interspersed with his text in quotation marks.

    "If you have time dont miss going to Fistera and Muxia, both stunning towns on the coast, of course like the rest of the Camino both demand good weather, not fun in the rain"
     
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  34. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    I received a PM about the route GR 65 from Geneva to LePuy today, and thought I'd post some of my reply here to add the info to the thread:

    One year we rode from Prague, across southern Germany, through Switzerland to Geneva, and then finished in LePuy. Nice trip, about 30 days.

    The section from Geneva to LePuy is unique in that it is not following a historical route, but rather was put together recently, with the idea that a more rural route might have more resemblance to the original medieval trail than route which is geographically accurate but paved over by a massive autoroute. The route connects some very nice old towns, but does not have much in the way of St James history.

    They have done a good job of finding a route and marking it, though it was made for walkers, and in places is tough biking. We detoured from the marked route much more than usual, in part because some of the road alternatives were so nice, but often because the official route would go out of the way just to take some trail over a hill and then back to the road. One of my notes reads "took a lot of small roads today. Marked chemin pretty nice riding when not going over some cliff".
    A great website for the route is here:

    https://www.camino-europe.eu/fr/eu/fr-fr/jakobswege-fr/f-via-gebennensis-geneve-le-puy-fr-CH/

    Click on the stage Jongieux-SaintGenix and you will see some of the rugged trail and really nice options for detours. If I had to guess how much official trail we rode I'd say we stayed on it 70% Geneva to the Rhone river, 85% Rhone to Le Puy, 90% Le Puy to SJPP and 95% SJPP to Santiago. Those numbers may be wrong, but that is how I remember it anyway.
     
  35. AlwynWellington

    AlwynWellington Active Member Donating Member

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    Hi, @LVDWD . More than a year after your request, but here goes.

    In 2016 I walked from Le Puy to Estella, where I retired injured. But all good now.

    On the last night before walking to St Jean the only other pilgrim had started biking from his home in Bavaria a short while before.
    While I walked using the traditional walking route his intention was to cycle on roads as far as Pamplona that day.

    As I walked from Roncevalles I took the traditional route most of the way to Zabaldika. On the way I encountered quite a few cyclists at what was awkward points for us both. We survived with grace, but it was awkward, especially as my hearing loss means I dont hear bells, even if fitted.

    Photos above show pushing up rocky paths. I would wonder, for example, about taking a bike down the west side of Alto del Perdon to Uterga. It is steep and littered with small stones. These have a tendency to roll from under one's feet - holding a bike laden with pannier bags might be quite a mission.

    Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
     

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