A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Mature couple cycling the Camino

Camino(s) past & future
2019 will be my first
#1
Hi to all the experienced and non-experienced pelgrims. I really need some advice on the ideal average distance to cycle per day.
I am 62 fairly experienced cyclist, my wife is 61, fairly fit, but have never really cycled before. We are not really time constraint, but was thinking of cycling for about 14 days including a rest day. Originally I thought of starting in LEON, but that would be an average of only 21km. Is that too short, keeping in mind my wife have never cycled before. Any suggestions would be so appreciated.
 

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycled caminos francés, Finisterre, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018)
#2
I’m a regular cyclist, also in my 60s, and rode from St Jean to Santiago in 11 days. Daily distances varied between 50 and 80km, depending on the terrain - more across the Meseta, less over the Pyrenees. Others can tell you the distance they travelled each day, but only you can determine how far you are able and willing to cycle. 21km is less than most pilgrims would cover on foot, and cyclists would normally travel thee times further than the average walker, but some cyclists prefer to travel slowly so as to savour the experience. The best way to answer your question is to find out for yourselves by practising in your home area. Discover for yourselves how far you feel happy to cycle as a couple, allowing for the fact that loaded panniers, rough surfaces and some steep climbs will impede your progress. If you are planning to go in 2019 you have plenty of time to prepare. Best wishes to you both.
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
#3
21km is quite a short daily distance for a cyclist. But I think that it's a good plan to start in Leon. If you find that you are comfortable doing more than 21km per day, you will have the opportunity to spend time in Santiago, or to continue to Finisterre.
On the Camino Sanabres, I met an Italian cyclist who had a pacemaker. Due to his heart condition he cycled 25 to 35km per day. Perhaps he could have gone further but I think he enjoyed the company of some walkers who were doing the same distances. At Puebla de Sanabria he was concerned about the climb ahead, so he arranged a taxi to transport him (with his bicycle) over the mountain. I really admired his resolve to do the camino in his way.
 

Jean T

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012) on foot (incomplete)
Camino del Norte on bicycle with children April 2018
#4
Hi, my sons (9,7) and I started the Camino del Norte, they had only gone on 10 km rides at home so I thought 20 km spread out over entire day was possible. We were able to do 25km without pressure, the only time that distance was difficult was on those days when we spent too much time at the beach/ aquariums/ museums. We were frequently overtaken by the rapid walkers but I like to think that we got to see every bug, reptile, rock and pond along the way. As Paladina suggested - see how far you can go comfortably as a couple!
 

ForrestUS

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Finisterre starting May 12th
#5
Hello I am interested in seeing how this thread progresses... I myself will be attempting the Camino for the first time by bike on May 11th starting from Pamplona.. though I am in good shape, I had started to prepare for this walk in August of 2017 unfortunately due to gait issues ( two knee replacements) I had to change from attempting to walk the Camino to biking the Camino instead. Therefore my preparation then changed from walking to biking in October of 2017. I too am unsure of the time and distance that I will accomplish on a daily basis as I am not an avid biker. I have rented a bike from a company called "cycling rentals" for 21 days to accomplish this task.. any advice would be gladly taken..
Also best of luck to you and your wife Eben
 

ForrestUS

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Finisterre starting May 12th
#7
Actually, I am upset that I am not walking as I feel as though I will miss the true experience. One of my knee replacements is a little on the loose side which is altering my gait. Though I have been doing additional work to attempt to correct this (physical therapy) I am concerned that considering the distance I will be walking and the additional 20 pounds on my back that they will present further issues. I wish this were not the case
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#8
Actually, I am upset that I am not walking as I feel as though I will miss the true experience. One of my knee replacements is a little on the loose side which is altering my gait. Though I have been doing additional work to attempt to correct this (physical therapy) I am concerned that considering the distance I will be walking and the additional 20 pounds on my back that they will present further issues. I wish this were not the case
If you find you can walk the distance, you can use a backpack transport service to take the weight off your back.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Part 1 (2017)/ Part 2 (2018), VF Part 1 (2018)
#9
I'm cycling ahead of you in early May. You should be able to do 50-60 km a day. More on the Meseta than in Galicia. I've done a lot of walking over the decades but find that cycling allows me to cover more distance carrying more weight. There are disadvantages when it comes to pushing yourself, a pack and the bike up a hill. O Cebreiro won't be much fun but downhill from it will be.

You can plan your route using www.ridewithgps.com or download and edit this one (https://ridewithgps.com/routes/23363478)

21 days should be fine as it will allow a few rest days if you find some of the sections tough.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
#10
1st...it depends why you are doing a Camino...religious...social...or exercise...if your purpose is religious then no Pilgrim has the right to tell you the correct way to Camino...if your purpose is social then you will miss a lot...if your purpose is exercise please be more considerate that the majority of European bikers on the Camino...2nd without riding a mountain bike for over 10-years I rode from SGDPP to Santiago in 16-days with 2-days rest and I should have taken another rest day in Leon to see the city...my estimate is that I pushed uphill 300+ km...I glided downhill 100+ km...and I actually rode 500+ km...3rd...the best part of my Camino was the 4-day bonus Camino to Finisterre and Muxia...and at the end I spent 3-days rest in Santiago for religious reflection...basically my experiences in Santiago, Finisterre, and Muxia were the best...lastly...my advise would be to plan your bike Camino with no less that 28-days from arrival to departure and go at a pace your heart tells you to go...a Camino is not a race...stop and see cities and places that interest you...and if you have extra time then go out to the coast...and also spend some time in Santiago to see the sites and talk to other Pilgrims...my next religious Camino this Fall is the Camino del Norte on a mountain bike and I plan to see the sites.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#11
Any suggestions would be so appreciated.
What does your wife think? You have over a year to make an assessment of her cycling ability/interest. There will be places where you must decide either to push your bikes uphill or downhill on difficult surfaces, or take roads with traffic. It may be difficult to make those decisions - you might prefer the road (because of your knee) and she might prefer the uphill path (because of lack of confidence on a busy road).

In the next year, work on improving your knee function. Train both on bikes and walking. All of this will be beneficial, whether you go on the Camino or not, walking or bicycling. That should be your priority. When the time comes next year to be more specific in your planning, you will know better what distances are likely to be appropriate.

By the way, if you were walking, there is no need to carry 20 pounds. 12 pounds is usually enough, and bag transport exists if you need it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
#12
Hello Eben, if you don't have a time constraints, please consider your wife's pace.... Everybody can tell you their own experience but are not the same for evry
Hi to all the experienced and non-experienced pelgrims. I really need some advice on the ideal average distance to cycle per day.
I am 62 fairly experienced cyclist, my wife is 61, fairly fit, but have never really cycled before. We are not really time constraint, but was thinking of cycling for about 14 days including a rest day. Originally I thought of starting in LEON, but that would be an average of only 21km. Is that too short, keeping in mind my wife have never cycled before. Any suggestions would be so appreciated.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
#13
Please consider your wife's pace as a must... Enjoy the Camino.. Forget about how many km you did... Every day will be different... Plan 1or2 days ahead based on how you feel.. Stop in the place you like, always you will have Albergues and hostal so for you.. Let the Camino surprise you...
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#14
I tried to do the CF last year on a bike. After walking from SJPdP to Pamplona on a foot that suffers from neuropathy I thought biking would be a great idea. I rented a bike from Cycling Rentals and they were prompt in delivering my bike to Pamplona and there was no hassle turning the bike in when I arrived in SdC. Unfortunately, I found that my foot could not take the constant pounding on gravel tracks. I gave up in Burgos and rented a car. After I arrived in SdC I walked from Porto.
Bottom line, there is a huge difference in the experience on foot and on a bike. I'm back next year to do the Norte on foot.
 
Camino(s) past & future
France's (2017)
#15
Camino(s) past & future
2017 bike, solo & lost, SJPP-Santiago via Napoleon Route
#16
I agree with Francisco_Only plan 1 or 2 days out max. Take your time. If it’s only a 20 mile day, so what. Be spontaneous. Change plans on the fly if something intrigues you. Don’t let others guilt trip you into walking or riding a set number of miles. Do “your” Camino. Great that your wife wants to go. I tried persuading mine, even with our tandem, but multi- day riding psychs her out. I am 64, ride a lot, but am overweight. In May did SJPP in 13 days, 550 miles, a lot on the walkers route, including Napoleon route, which is slower. My regret is not enough side trips, sightseeing. In some towns you might walk for hours exploring. My next Camino will be different, which is often the case when traveling anywhere.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
#18
Hi to all the experienced and non-experienced pelgrims. I really need some advice on the ideal average distance to cycle per day.
I guess I might be qualified to comment on your question. I have done 5 caminos on a bike, including the Frances over the Route Napoleon. I have serious knee issues, and I am 72 years old.
The idea of doing 20 odd km per day is ridiculous. It would be impossible to average less than 8km per hour. If you allow yourselves 4 hours per day in the saddle, you will easily make 40km, without stressing the body, and you can stop to smell the vino tinto along the way. My one piece of advice is to feel free to use the roads wherever the trail might be problem. As someone said above, there's nothing worse for bad knees than pushimg a loaded bike along rough and rocky tracks.
And don't bother yourselves about all this "real Camino experience". Your Camino is your experience, and it's been good enough for me to find myself returning a sixth time this year.
The Spanish roads are usually gems, and largely empty, because there always seems to be an Autovia around which takes almost all the traffic.
Someone mentioned O Cebreiro. That IS a killer. I couldn't make it, turned around before La Faba and took a taxi! So what!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#19
Hola - again more good advice. If you are starting in Leon you have about 80 km to the Cruz de Ferro and you will climb around 700 metres (2200 ft). You can (just about) follow the walkers trail for this section. However from the Cruz I strongly recommend that you use the sealed road for the descent down into Molinaseca. You will drop around 800-900 metres over a very short distance. I have both ridden my hybrid/mountain bike and walked this Camino and I strongly doubt that even experienced cyclists could follow the walkers trail. (No doubt someone will tell me that they did - well done to them). From Molinaseca the Camino parallels a number of sealed roads so you are really not missing significant places by riding. I suggest that you get a copy of the Michellin Camino Guide book as this shows not only the walkers trail but also alternative roads that cyclists can use. (you might like to search for some of my posts on this subject or better those by newfydog.)
My other suggestion - start doing some training - 15 / 20 km per day; start with an unladen bike and build-up to about 8-10 kg (22 lb) on your rack. Oh the other thing - are you bringing your own bikes or intending to hire? (this is you choice - but there are a number of good hire companies). Cheers
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Plantagenets, Littorale, Frances, part Del Norte(all 2017), Walk: Le Puy to SJPdP (2018)
#20
Hi there,
We are in our fifties. I'm a regular cyclist, have cycled regularly since my youth - even if most of the time just to the shops and back. My wife Carol on the other hand never owned a bicycle until her forties. When we took bike rides on camping holidays, with our then teenage son, she didn't enjoy having to catch up all the time. However, when we bought a cheap tandem ten years ago, she took to it like a duck to water. She can concentrate on pedalling without steering, braking or changing gears. And she can relax enough to enjoy the sights and sounds of scenery.
Since then we have bought a better tandem and taken annual multi-day tandem holidays - mostly in France. Last year we completed our first Santiago pilgrimage from home in England, via a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. It was a wonderful adventure!
I would agree with several of the posts above, whether you choose tandem or regular bikes, do some practice together at home beforehand, preferably cycling two (or more) consecutive days, to see what feels achievable. Cycling is one of those activities which makes you fitter as you do it, but your pilgrimage won't be fun if you are absolutely dog-tired all the time. That said, even a unfit, uncertain cyclist is likely to find 30km per day comes quite easily.
The advice given to walkers, to pack as light as they dare, is just as applicable to cyclists. Take less than you think you might need, because shops in Spain sell much the same things as shops near home. Don't carry a pack on your back, it makes you less stable, hotter and achier than carrying it in proper panniers on the bike's back rack.
The UK-based Confraternity of St James publishes (very affordably) written directions to the Camino Frances for cyclists - for both mountain bikes (mainly following the walkers' trail) and road bikes (mainly following roads running parallel). Switching to the road where it is less busy and closely tracks the trail helps to reduce the potential conflicts between peligrinos and bicigrinos.
As several other posters have said: your camino is yours - and your wife's. It isn't a race. It's the journey, the landscape, the heritage, your fellow pilgrims, the food, the contrast, the spirituality and/or many other things. So even if you spend a large part of your time pushing your bikes along the way, you will still be part of something wonderful. Enjoy planning and preparing!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2019 will be my first
#21
I tried to do the CF last year on a bike. After walking from SJPdP to Pamplona on a foot that suffers from neuropathy I thought biking would be a great idea. I rented a bike from Cycling Rentals and they were prompt in delivering my bike to Pamplona and there was no hassle turning the bike in when I arrived in SdC. Unfortunately, I found that my foot could not take the constant pounding on gravel tracks. I gave up in Burgos and rented a car. After I arrived in SdC I walked from Porto.
Bottom line, there is a huge difference in the experience on foot and on a bike. I'm back next year to do the Norte on foot.
Hi.
I thank you so much for taking your time to give some valuable input.
Does that mean you prefer walking the Camino to cycling?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2019 will be my first
#22
As non cyclists is there a reason why you want to cycle rather than walk?
Hi.
I thank you so much for taking your time to give some valuable input.
Basically because I am scared of the fact that my knee and/or back will not play along.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May/June 2015, via the Atlantic Cycle Route
#23
Hi,
There's some great information in the above posts.

Myself, I cycled the Camino Frances in 2015, departing from my home in Holland and cycling back. Two years previously I couldn't cycle 20 km. I cycled because an operation on my right knee meant that walking was out of the question. I carried all my gear, including camping gear.

If I may be so bold as to summarise the important information....

1. Practise as much as possible beforehand in as real a situation as possible. Take loaded trips at weekends to hotels/B&Bs, or even try camping if you fancy it! This will help you get used to riding a loaded bike, will help you decided what clothing/gear is comfortable or not, will help you decide and use any gizmos you may want to bring & how to work them on the road!. Finally, it teaches the 2 of you how far you can go, how much you carry and how you react to each other and the world on a bike.
(If you don't have "touring bikes" don't worry. A cheap, simple MTB will be enough if you stick a couple of cheap racks on for bags.

2. Don't let anyone dictate your pace/distance other than yourselves.... unless you view this as a race. You're a team - your pace is your pace. If you find yourself running out of time, you can always catch a bus (even with a bike!) Also, there are many interesting people to meet along the Camino - sometimes on the path itself. A built in countdown clock does not facilitate this! :) I found many mornings I did zero mileage simply because there were so many walkers. I stopped at the first place I could have coffee and waited, relaxed, watched until the way was clearer. My occasional cycling companions could not do this because they had to be someplace by a certain time.

3, Resist, at all costs!, the temptation to carry anything on your back! This is not comfortable!

4. Practise as much as possible before you go! Yes! Again! Together!

5. Listen to your body. Adjust your pace and plans accordingly.

6. Be aware that travelling by bike is typically faster than walking, so you lose the opportunity to develop a "Camino family" as walkers do. However, you have pretty much the freedom to stop and see anything you want because you're under far less time pressure (or you should be!)

And some of my own.....

Practise as much as you can before you go!

The last 100 km to Sarria becomes very busy, and therefore more difficult on a bike. I stopped and waited for late afternoon/early evening and cycled almost deserted paths.

Early mornings in the big cities are a great time to explore as the city wakes up. Great coffee and pastries from bakeries just opening for the day. Great views of buildings as the sun rises.... (it never rains in my recollections! :) )

If you can, leave some time in your planning to head to the coast after Santiago, or to just absorb Santiago, itself.
Personally, I was disappointed in Santiago itself - I found it to be incredibly commercial - but the coast was wild and beautiful.

Don't be afraid! If a hill is too steep, if a bike breaks, if you have a fall, there is always someone around to help. There is an infrastructure developed for pilgrims of all types. It's there if you need it.

It rains. Bring some rain gear.

And.... Enjoy!

Frank
 
#26
21km is quite a short daily distance for a cyclist. But I think that it's a good plan to start in Leon. If you find that you are comfortable doing more than 21km per day, you will have the opportunity to spend time in Santiago, or to continue to Finisterre.
On the Camino Sanabres, I met an Italian cyclist who had a pacemaker. Due to his heart condition he cycled 25 to 35km per day. Perhaps he could have gone further but I think he enjoyed the company of some walkers who were doing the same distances. At Puebla de Sanabria he was concerned about the climb ahead, so he arranged a taxi to transport him (with his bicycle) over the mountain. I really admired his resolve to do the camino in his way.[/QUOT
 
#27
I am a senior 68 and I had a recent cardiacbi-pass. I would like to walk the Camino al Norte but unfortunately would not be able.

Cycling is my second but only option, there are many things that I need to find out and would be grateful for any help.



My question today is " Is it true that cyclists are not allowed into the hostels till late in the evening". I appreciate that walkers may be considered as more deserving, but could cyclists with a disadvantage apply for a consideration, and to be treated more kindly?.

I would appreciate your views and suggestions

I intend to start in early September of this year and have commenced training.

Thanks in anticipation

Colm
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
#28
Is it true that cyclists are not allowed into the hostels till late in the evening
I didn't walk the Norte, so I can't give specific tips about the Albergues on that route. During my journey, I only came across one Albergue required cyclists to wait until a later time than walkers to check-in. That was the municipal one at Finisterre, which allowed walkers to check in from early afternoon, and cyclists from around 5pm. (The municipal in Muxia might have the same rule - I didn't notice).
Most of the albergues that I stayed at allowed pilgrims to make reservations. On the occasions when I made a reservation, I was never asked if I was coming on foot or by bicycle. Making a reservation limits your flexibility, but it gives you the reassurance that you have a place to stay.
If I were you, I'd chat with people who recently walked the Norte. They should be able to share their experience and give you a heads up regarding sections that will require some planning because of lack of places to stay or places that prioritise walkers. If you learn that some hostels prioritise walkers, you might still be able to call ahead to inform them of your special circumstances and get special treatment.
Good luck.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
None
#29
Hi, my sons (9,7) and I started the Camino del Norte, they had only gone on 10 km rides at home so I thought 20 km spread out over entire day was possible. We were able to do 25km without pressure, the only time that distance was difficult was on those days when we spent too much time at the beach/ aquariums/ museums. We were frequently overtaken by the rapid walkers but I like to think that we got to see every bug, reptile, rock and pond along the way. As Paladina suggested - see how far you can go comfortably as a couple!
We have thought about taking the camino norte then picking up the primitivo near to villaviciosa just unsure how cycle friendly the norte is, will be riding from santander.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
#30
We have thought about taking the camino norte then picking up the primitivo near to villaviciosa just unsure how cycle friendly the norte is, will be riding from santander.
Biking the Camino del Norte from Santander to Santiago is very bikeable with one very memorable hill climb...but bring extra innertubes because I lost two inner tubes on some rough trail between Santander and Santiago...however from Bayonne to Santandar I recommend hiking because there is some very rough trail that is completely not bikeable and I lost five inner tubes between Bayonne and Santandar and spent most of the time pushing my bike on the hiking trail.
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Plantagenets, Littorale, Frances, part Del Norte(all 2017), Walk: Le Puy to SJPdP (2018)
#31
You might spend some time on the road (mostly but not all quiet roads) along that route, since parts of the path don't suit bikes, and other parts are beside the road anyway. It does undulate along the north coast, but no sustained climbing until you turn South West, when there is a day (or more depending on your pace/fitness) of serious ascending, until Abadin (pronounced like the Scottish oil city). Then flattish to Santiago.
Even if you are on the road, expect some tyre wear/punctures, there seems to be abrasive surface and a fair amount of sharp debris.
The scenery is magnificent, from great beaches and bays on your right to the snow-topped Picos mountains on your left. And the last one or two days before you join with the Camino Frances is through unspoilt rural Galicia, much more typical than the CF route.
Buen Camino!
 

freeflyer123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycling the camino de Santiago "2013"
#32
So glad I read this thread. We rode the route from Bayonne through to St John Pied de Port and then onto Santiago and never once had a puncture. This was back in 2013. Next year we are hoping to ride from Santander to Santiago along the Norte route. It wouldn't have occurred to us to carry extra innertubes but now we will. Although we much prefer road riding when the terrain is too rough.
 

Most read today


A few items available from the Camino Forum Store



Advertisement

Booking.com

Most read today

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 11 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 35 4.4%
  • April

    Votes: 117 14.8%
  • May

    Votes: 192 24.3%
  • June

    Votes: 55 7.0%
  • July

    Votes: 15 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 12 1.5%
  • September

    Votes: 236 29.9%
  • October

    Votes: 96 12.2%
  • November

    Votes: 11 1.4%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.6%
Top