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favorite sections

Camino(s) past & future
camino frances: sept 2018
#1
I am planning to cycle some of the camino frances in mid-september. I do not have enough time to cycle the full camino - and am envisioning cycling some a bit each year over the next three years. I would love to start with a section that resonates with me. I am interested in hearing about your experiences.

What was your favorite section? and why did you particularly like that section?


much gratitude.
 

jozero

Oh... That's what the shell is for...
Camino(s) past & future
CF January 2013
CF April 2016
CF January 2018
CP Coastal September 2018
#5
I love the little section between SJPDP and SDC.... has a little bit of everything ;)

But if I were breaking into thirds, for sure I'd start with SJPDP to Burgos. The scenery of Navarra, the wine and tapas of Logrono and the culture and history of Burgos. Buen Camino!
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#8
My favourite sections would be:

CF: SJPD to Roncesvalles has the magic of going over the Pyrenees and long descents, its rural, enormous eagles overhead. On the other hand, I also like culture. Burgos to Astorga is fairly flat easy riding if you take the road route. The entry into Leon is totally insane at the moment (road works) and you may need to take a moment to sort out your nerves after coming down the hill/making it round the roundabout./not ending up on the motorway but Leon is wonderful and there are lots of places to visit on this bit of the route which suits me.

Not the CF but might be easier depending on where you arrive. In good weather, taking the tunnel route San Sebastian through to Vitoria feels more adventurous and it's also very beautiful. The climb from Zegama at the weekend is full of local cyclists who are fun and it's the same amount of climbing as going over the Pyrenees if you go off road (Note you have to carry your bike in places to do this, which won't be doable if heavily loaded and not at all if it's muddy). I liked this bit because it's real Spain rather than Camino Spain. Food in San Sebastian is amazing. Coastal road route Saint-Jean-de-Luz to Irun is busy but also very beautiful with the sea view.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
Jul 2019: San Miniato to Bolsena
#9
I wonder how much this depends on the season you walk? A lot of people list Navarre and La Rioja as their favorite sections. I walked this immediately post-harvest, and my memories were of dust and more dust, with no vegetation to muffle the sounds of traffic on the nearby roads. It was the only section where I thought: never again. But with that ... if your plan is to do one section at a time over three years, it makes sense to start here!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
#10
I wonder how much this depends on the season you walk? A lot of people list Navarre and La Rioja as their favorite sections. I walked this immediately post-harvest, and my memories were of dust and more dust, with no vegetation to muffle the sounds of traffic on the nearby roads. It was the only section where I thought: never again. But with that ... if your plan is to do one section at a time over three years, it makes sense to start here!
Oh Michael, you MUST go back and walk Navarre shortly BEFORE the harvest! The Bierzo, too - between Camponaraya & VillaFranca del Bierzo. The red vinyards are exquisite! Early in the morning. When the sun is just coming up & shining thru the low clouds! You might get to see a WHITE rainbow aka fog bow!!
Buen Camino!!
 

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Camino(s) past & future
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#11
@bostonYogaFan , I understand from your post you intend to cycle the Frances in several stages.

I would alos understand that, en route, each stage would be a seven days cycling, or less.

Firstly I would strongly caution you against cycling on many parts of the walking trail. Put simply many parts of the walking trail are not suited to cycles. Then add the pesky walkers ... Unisuitability for cycling comes in many forms. It may be the narrowness of the trail, hemmed in by vegetation or fencing. Or it might be a rocky (or whatever) uneveness that has walkers criss-crossing to to be safe.

And then there is the rule (in my country at least) of pedestrian priority on shared trails. That means cyclists have second (and slower) place in those awkward circumstances.

From my observation the parts unsuitable for cycling occured on just about every one of my stages. And in many cases the walking trail was alongside a road. So it is not the case that using a road proper would deprive you of any of the "magic" of the Camino Frances.

For that reason and others, such as wanting a more consistent surface to walk on, I often took to the roads. From memory between the Franco - Spanish border and Galicia there are two main roads the Frances often follows. These are the N135 and the N120. And in Galicia the LU633 covers a significant part of the distance and is, also, often either the walking route itself or close to it.

And a joy for both on the way to Compostela when using a road is that walkers will be on the left and cyclists on the right: never the twain shall meet.

So, @bostonYogaFan , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016, Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre and Muxia 2017, Camino Aragones 2018
#12
@OTH86, of course the harvest is in the fall, but for those of us who are not farm inclined (even though I have a lovely dairy cow as my avatar), could you please be specific as to regions and crops? For example, early September for x crop in whereever?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
#17
@OTH86, of course the harvest is in the fall, but for those of us who are not farm inclined (even though I have a lovely dairy cow as my avatar), could you please be specific as to regions and crops? For example, early September for x crop in whereever?
Alas, Sparrow, I'm not exactly farm-inclined either, but wine is harvested in the Fall in Navarre and Bierzo, I think. Bread & croissants also harvested in the Fall on the Meseta. Maybe there's a more knowledgeable caminante in the Forum audience who can be more specific. :)
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#20
@bostonYogaFan
Firstly I would strongly caution you against cycling on many parts of the walking trail. Put simply many parts of the walking trail are not suited to cycles. Then add the pesky walkers ... Unisuitability for cycling comes in many forms. It may be the narrowness of the trail, hemmed in by vegetation or fencing. Or it might be a rocky (or whatever) uneveness that has walkers criss-crossing to to be safe.

So, @bostonYogaFan , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
I don't think The cyclists got the Memo ;););)
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
#21
@bostonYogaFan , I understand from your post you intend to cycle the Frances in several stages.

I would alos understand that, en route, each stage would be a seven days cycling, or less.

Firstly I would strongly caution you against cycling on many parts of the walking trail. Put simply many parts of the walking trail are not suited to cycles. Then add the pesky walkers ... Unisuitability for cycling comes in many forms. It may be the narrowness of the trail, hemmed in by vegetation or fencing. Or it might be a rocky (or whatever) uneveness that has walkers criss-crossing to to be safe.

And then there is the rule (in my country at least) of pedestrian priority on shared trails. That means cyclists have second (and slower) place in those awkward circumstances.

From my observation the parts unsuitable for cycling occured on just about every one of my stages. And in many cases the walking trail was alongside a road. So it is not the case that using a road proper would deprive you of any of the "magic" of the Camino Frances.

For that reason and others, such as wanting a more consistent surface to walk on, I often took to the roads. From memory between the Franco - Spanish border and Galicia there are two main roads the Frances often follows. These are the N135 and the N120. And in Galicia the LU633 covers a significant part of the distance and is, also, often either the walking route itself or close to it.

And a joy for both on the way to Compostela when using a road is that walkers will be on the left and cyclists on the right: never the twain shall meet.

So, @bostonYogaFan , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
#22
Saw several bike accidents on the walking trails and personally just about got hit by one biker from behind neglecting to use his bell in advance.
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
#24
so then what is the answer? The accidents I saw drew blood and pain....how can we prevent this from happening? One was of two cyclists on a path with no walkers around. They tumbled upon rocks, needed first aid. Another involved cyclist colliding with a walking pilgrim.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF Spring 2016
CF Autumn 2017
VDLP Spring 2020
#25
I am a long-time cyclist. When I walked the Camino Frances the first time, I was shocked and embarrassed by the bad behavior of the cyclists. I saw two accidents in which a cyclist coming too fast and too close knocked a walker down, and there were far too many close-calls. Many people I walked with said that the cyclists should be banned, and based on the behavior I saw, I cannot argue that point, and almost agree.

On my second Camino Frances, I was walking with a friend from Australia, also a long-time cyclist. He also was surprised and annoyed by the bad behavior of the cyclists.

I do not know the answer, but the bad behavior of so many of the cyclists has me really thinking that I do not want to put myself at that risk again.

While my Australian friend and I were walking the Camino Frances, we met a Spanish man from Malaga going over the Napolean route and walked with him for several days. He said that he had cycled the Camino Frances twice, and that he found that walking was a much, much deeper spiritual and religious experience, and his thought was that the Camino pilgrimage was at its best a walking pilgrimage. I agree - I do not understand how one can immerse themselves in the beauty, the meditative, and the spiritual aspects of the Camino while cycling. I do enjoy riding my bikes here in California (I ride about 150-200 km per week), but to get the most out of the Camino de Santiago, I walk.

Buen Camino!
--jim--
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
#28
I am a long-time cyclist. When I walked the Camino Frances the first time, I was shocked and embarrassed by the bad behavior of the cyclists. I saw two accidents in which a cyclist coming too fast and too close knocked a walker down, and there were far too many close-calls. Many people I walked with said that the cyclists should be banned, and based on the behavior I saw, I cannot argue that point, and almost agree.

On my second Camino Frances, I was walking with a friend from Australia, also a long-time cyclist. He also was surprised and annoyed by the bad behavior of the cyclists.

I do not know the answer, but the bad behavior of so many of the cyclists has me really thinking that I do not want to put myself at that risk again.

While my Australian friend and I were walking the Camino Frances, we met a Spanish man from Malaga going over the Napolean route and walked with him for several days. He said that he had cycled the Camino Frances twice, and that he found that walking was a much, much deeper spiritual and religious experience, and his thought was that the Camino pilgrimage was at its best a walking pilgrimage. I agree - I do not understand how one can immerse themselves in the beauty, the meditative, and the spiritual aspects of the Camino while cycling. I do enjoy riding my bikes here in California (I ride about 150-200 km per week), but to get the most out of the Camino de Santiago, I walk.

Buen Camino!
--jim--
 

Joziane

Lifes` moments, memories & aspirations....
Camino(s) past & future
(2017) Cam.Frances May 17-July2
#29
Love your comment! The other item, many were racing on their bicycles ( 6-7+) on the path where
pilgrims were walking, contemplating, in their thoughts, caught unaware of wheels coming and
taken out of their "moment" and perhaps awakening of an answer.... not fair. Disturbing! Also, it happened
several times a day...we are a small group on the forum compared to the many who walk the Camino....how can we help others with this dilemma?
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#30
Bikes on roads, I agree. Now that Spain is criss-crossed by high speed motorways there are lots of almost deserted secondary roads that make fine cycleways. It is surely just a matter of joining the dots to make a good continuous Cyclist Camino Frances.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#31
And for those who want to know what crops along the way to look for at which time of year - asparagus in spring (and glorious wildflowers, although you can't really eat those). If you see any bars advertising tortilla de asparagus you may be lucky enough to get the wild asparagus - I've had it twice and it is absolutely delicious. in summer (June/July/August) figs, cherries, flat peaches and stonefruit, berries, potatoes (Santo Domingo) and grelos (the green vegetable that goes into caldo), oranges (on the VdlP). In autumn (September, October, November), grapes grapes grapes, and almonds, walnuts, and apples.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon, 2018 Leon-Santiago
#32
Other crops include olives, oil seed, such as rape, and hay hay hay. Everywhere there are kitchen gardens, with onion, garlic, brassica leaf, Brussels sprouts, loose leaf lettuces, spinach, kale (I walk in the early to mid spring), with tomatoes and peppers coming later. And those walnut groves? Every tree belongs to someone.

Regards,
Paul
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances: sept 2018
#33
My favourite sections would be:

CF: SJPD to Roncesvalles has the magic of going over the Pyrenees and long descents, its rural, enormous eagles overhead. On the other hand, I also like culture. Burgos to Astorga is fairly flat easy riding if you take the road route. The entry into Leon is totally insane at the moment (road works) and you may need to take a moment to sort out your nerves after coming down the hill/making it round the roundabout./not ending up on the motorway but Leon is wonderful and there are lots of places to visit on this bit of the route which suits me.

Not the CF but might be easier depending on where you arrive. In good weather, taking the tunnel route San Sebastian through to Vitoria feels more adventurous and it's also very beautiful. The climb from Zegama at the weekend is full of local cyclists who are fun and it's the same amount of climbing as going over the Pyrenees if you go off road (Note you have to carry your bike in places to do this, which won't be doable if heavily loaded and not at all if it's muddy). I liked this bit because it's real Spain rather than Camino Spain. Food in San Sebastian is amazing. Coastal road route Saint-Jean-de-Luz to Irun is busy but also very beautiful with the sea view.
thanks Helen. I have not heard of the Tunnel Route. I will do some research on it. Would you recommend a road touring bike for this route? or a hybrid? or a mountain bike? i would love to check out San Sebastian.
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances: sept 2018
#34
thanks to all for the thoughtful comments on biking on the path vs the roads. The discussion has been very helpful.

I am now going to plan to bike the roads. To help figure out the road biking route, I ordered the book The Way of St James Cyclist Guide by John Higginson. Any other road cycling guides/resource that you would recommend?

Much gratitude.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#35
Tunnel Route: https://www.csj.org.uk/planning-you...-routevia-de-bayonacamino-vasco-del-interior/

I had a Brompton folding bike, local cyclists are probably 50% on road bikes and 50% on mountain bikes. Other than the tunnel section it's 100% on tarmac roads. If you're on a road bike I'm not sure you can avoid the N1 and the Pancorbo pass. Pancorbo is like something out of Lord of Rings but despite the motorway nearby it's a busy road with a lot of lorries. Have to say they were very courteous lorries who made space but it's not the safest stretch of road.

Quick note about taking a bike through the tunnel - it's doable, but it is hard work, you must be able to carry your bike and stuff 500+ m uphill. Something about the slope and the rock means you can't really wheel it - the local mountain bikers were carrying their bikes down through the tunnel. The locals will think you are totally nuts. At some point I'll post some notes so you can see what it's like.

I think the best cycling guide is: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/3850004554/ which does have the CF road route fully marked if I remember rightly.

Have fun planning!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#36
I'm a walker and I enjoyed the sections most where there weren't cyclists on the Camino paths.
Two days out from Santiago there were speeding cyclists everywhere, it was nerve wracking. I don't know how you could fully experience the Camino racing like that and swerving around all the walkers - you wouldnt be able to appreciate your surroundings and take it all in.
Walking the Camino is an introspective experience and I was immersed in it, I wasn't in the zone most of the time to even hear the bells let alone react in time to get off the path.
The ironic thing for me is that the Meseta, which I would guess to be the best/easiest cycling stretch, seemed to have the least cyclists. Maybe they took the road?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk with my husband June 2018
#37
@bostonYogaFan , I understand from your post you intend to cycle the Frances in several stages.

I would alos understand that, en route, each stage would be a seven days cycling, or less.

Firstly I would strongly caution you against cycling on many parts of the walking trail. Put simply many parts of the walking trail are not suited to cycles. Then add the pesky walkers ... Unisuitability for cycling comes in many forms. It may be the narrowness of the trail, hemmed in by vegetation or fencing. Or it might be a rocky (or whatever) uneveness that has walkers criss-crossing to to be safe.

And then there is the rule (in my country at least) of pedestrian priority on shared trails. That means cyclists have second (and slower) place in those awkward circumstances.

From my observation the parts unsuitable for cycling occured on just about every one of my stages. And in many cases the walking trail was alongside a road. So it is not the case that using a road proper would deprive you of any of the "magic" of the Camino Frances.

For that reason and others, such as wanting a more consistent surface to walk on, I often took to the roads. From memory between the Franco - Spanish border and Galicia there are two main roads the Frances often follows. These are the N135 and the N120. And in Galicia the LU633 covers a significant part of the distance and is, also, often either the walking route itself or close to it.

And a joy for both on the way to Compostela when using a road is that walkers will be on the left and cyclists on the right: never the twain shall meet.

So, @bostonYogaFan , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
My husband and I have made it to Portomarin and are on our way to Santiago! Today was one of the scarier ones with what appears to be more and more professional cycling clubs charging down the mountains on the Camino causing us to quickly get off the Camino for fear of our lives. There is no way these cyclists would be able to stop for us. As there are more and more Camino walkers I really think it is safer if the cyclists stay off the trail. There are so many rocks, narrow sections and with the speed of their professional bikes it is almost like having motor bikes along the trail. I do understand their desire to be on the trail but this is getting more risky.even when there would be road sections right beside the Camino they would be barreling down the trail.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#38
My husband and I have made it to Portomarin and are on our way to Santiago! Today was one of the scarier ones with what appears to be more and more professional cycling clubs charging down the mountains on the Camino causing us to quickly get off the Camino for fear of our lives. There is no way these cyclists would be able to stop for us. As there are more and more Camino walkers I really think it is safer if the cyclists stay off the trail. There are so many rocks, narrow sections and with the speed of their professional bikes it is almost like having motor bikes along the trail. I do understand their desire to be on the trail but this is getting more risky.even when there would be road sections right beside the Camino they would be barreling down the trail.
I encountered these sometimes too. They were in packs of matching Lycra colours and absolutely flying. We met most of these on the hills in the Navarre, so they must be well spread along the Camino. I was terrified of them too, and remember thinking someone will be killed one day.
 

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