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Occasional biking on the Camino?

Wendola

New Member
Past OR future Camino
First time will be 2017
I'm planning to walk the Camino with a group of friends who are better hikers than myself. I have arthritis and walking is difficult. But, I can bike without any problems. Is it possible to rent a bike here and there instead of for the whole trip? Also, do I HAVE to wear a helmet? I'd prefer not to.

Thanks for any tips.

Wendy
 
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Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Past OR future Camino
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
I brought my own mountain bike and helmet...but if you mountain bike the hiking trail you don't need to wear a helmet unless you bike on the roads...but I biked a 1,000 km in Spain and never wore my helmet...also I biked through Burgos into the Meseta with a Spaniard and he did not wear a helmet either...he told me that the Police stopped him once and asked if he had a helmet and he told them he was a Pilgrim so nothing happened...we actually stopped Police in Burgos to ask for directions without helmets and nothing happened...the worst incident I had was biking over a bridge leaving some little town and the Police passed me in a SUV going the other direction honking and yelling for me to wear a helmet...so I just waived and yelled back...Buen Camino.
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Hi Wendy -

Have a wonderful camino with your friends, walking and biking.

I would strongly suggest you do wear a helmet ... the paths are loose and stony and accidents can happen anywhere - roads, country lanes etc.

The reason why I strongly suggest that you do wear a helmet is that I fell off my mountain bike last April while training for a bike camino. My shoulder and head took the brunt of the fall - I broke my collarbone and scapula and the collarbone had to be pinned and plated. The doctor in A&E told me if I had not been wearing my helmet the accident would have been so much worse - I would have sustained head injuries and I could have died. At the time, and in the months since, I have thought countless times about how lucky I was to have been wearing my helmet (it's the law here in Australia) - wearing my helmet prevented me from a much worse injury and indeed could have saved my life.

Wearing a helmet is a drag sometimes - your head gets sweaty and you get the worst sort of hat hair ever, BUT, after my experience, I would never hop on a bike without one. You'll be having a shower and can wash your hair as soon as you arrive at the albergue/hostel/casa rural/hotel anyway, so please, play it safe and wear a helmet.

A note on bike caminos generally - have your pack transported each day - as you plan to walk and bike this really is your only option.

Buen Bike and Walking Camino Wendy and best of luck with your preparations -

Take joy in every step and every pedal -

Cheers - Jenny
 

MelissaSue67

New Member
Past OR future Camino
I plan to start my walk on 23 September (2016). Will be travelling from Paris by train to SJPP. Planning to spend about 8 days in Paris.
Hi Wendy -

Have a wonderful camino with your friends, walking and biking.

I would strongly suggest you do wear a helmet ... the paths are loose and stony and accidents can happen anywhere - roads, country lanes etc.

The reason why I strongly suggest that you do wear a helmet is that I fell off my mountain bike last April while training for a bike camino. My shoulder and head took the brunt of the fall - I broke my collarbone and scapula and the collarbone had to be pinned and plated. The doctor in A&E told me if I had not been wearing my helmet the accident would have been so much worse - I would have sustained head injuries and I could have died. At the time, and in the months since, I have thought countless times about how lucky I was to have been wearing my helmet (it's the law here in Australia) - wearing my helmet prevented me from a much worse injury and indeed could have saved my life.

Wearing a helmet is a drag sometimes - your head gets sweaty and you get the worst sort of hat hair ever, BUT, after my experience, I would never hop on a bike without one. You'll be having a shower and can wash your hair as soon as you arrive at the albergue/hostel/casa rural/hotel anyway, so please, play it safe and wear a helmet.

A note on bike caminos generally - have your pack transported each day - as you plan to walk and bike this really is your only option.

Buen Bike and Walking Camino Wendy and best of luck with your preparations -

Take joy in every step and every pedal -

Cheers - Jenny

Hey Jenny, I would like to know more about your experience biking the camino. I'm planning on starting my journey in September this year. Would love any advice you can offer as this is my first time touring on a bike. I'm not an experienced cyclist, I got a run down mountain bike for $50 in November last year, I've done approximately 1300 kms on it so far, in training for this trip. I live in the Northern Territory, so it's very flat riding and I haven't done any off road riding. Could you please inbox me your email address, and if okay, can I bombard you with questions? My main concern is getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road. Many thanks.
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Hi MelissaSue67 -

Thanks for your post ... I can give you lots of advice so I'll PM you. I did tons of research while training but sadly I missed out on biking the Camino due to the accident. However, I did go to Spain as planned, even though the shoulder and collarbone were still well below 100%. I was to have biked the Camino with my friend Mike (Saint Mike II here on the Forum) and I farewelled him on his bike Camino in Pamplona. I then stayed on to do First Aid on the Camino with my friend David (David here on the Forum) which was really rewarding experience and a very different camino.

All the effort you're putting into your training is absolutely fantastic - you are going to love biking the Camino.

Cheers - Jenny
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
While the Camino is a pretty safe place to bike ride, I'd think carefully about taking a safety vest and a helmet. Over the last 40 years (which is a long time) 9 cyclists on the camino have been killed in accidents involving other vehicles, presumably on or crossing roads. Two cyclists have also died directly as the result of falls from their bikes - one near El Acebo and the other near Hospital de Condessa (after O Cebreiro) - both steep rocky sections.

I think those statistics compare very favourably with anywhere else bikes are ridden (and probably compare well with staying at home!) but I guess no-one wants to be the statistical anomaly.
 

David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
The Camino isn't the sort of place that you can rent and drop off bikes at random, it isn't that sort of thing ... incidentally, there is absolutely no need whatsoever to have your pack transported if you are combining walking and cycling .....why would you?

you don't say which parts of your body are affected by your arthritis ... but it is worth mentioning that, except on the flat, cycling on Camino can be much harder work than walking - particularly steep ascents and descents ..... a tricky one indeed .... if you rise 500 feet over a few miles on rough Camino your physical effort is the same as a walker except that you have the extra weight of the bike to lift up that 500 feet!!

so sorry about your arthritis - you have given up all coffee? really necessary to give up ALL coffee!! I have seen dramatic improvements when others have given it up completely.
Do let us know how you go forward on this. It could be that someone tags along with a car with a bike rack then they could be called in when necessary ?? They get the tourist stuff during the day and you all still meet in the evenings?

As for helmets - off road it is your choice. Personally I wouldn't like to take the chance of a head injury miles and miles from any help.
 
Last edited:

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
The Camino isn't the sort of place that you can rent and drop off bikes at random, it isn't that sort of thing ... incidentally, there is absolutely no need whatsoever to have your pack transported if you are combining walking and cycling .....why would you?

you don't say which parts of your body are affected by your arthritis ... but it is worth mentioning that, except on the flat, cycling on Camino can be much harder work than walking - particularly steep ascents and descents ..... a tricky one indeed .... if you rise 500 feet over a few miles on rough Camino your physical effort is the same as a walker except that you have the extra weight of the bike to lift up that 500 feet!!

so sorry about your arthritis - you have given up all coffee? really necessary to give up ALL coffee!! I have seen dramatic improvements when others have given it up completely.
Do let us know how you go forward on this. It could be that someone tags along with a car with a bike rack then they could be called in when necessary ?? They get the tourist stuff during the day and you all still meet in the evenings?

As for helmets - off road it is your choice. Personally I wouldn't like to take the chance of a head injury miles and miles from any help.

Hi David -

Thanks for your excellent post here - lots of food for thought for Wendy and helpful with her planning.

The reason why I suggested to Wendy that she has her pack transported is that she mentioned that she wanted to rent a bike "here and there instead of for the whole trip". This made me wonder what she would do with the pack when she was cycling. She couldn't cycle with a large (heavy) pack on her back due to balance problems. Unless it was a small pack that she could have on the rear rack of the bike, she might find that a larger pack on the rear rack will make her unbalanced as well. Of course, if Wendy were to rent panniers as part of the bike package this would solve the balance problem and she could just have the empty pack on the rack - hopefully the balance problem would be solved. When she handed the bike in she could transfer the contents of the panniers into her pack and walk the next section.

Cheers - Jenny
 
Past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
I'm planning to walk the Camino with a group of friends who are better hikers than myself. I have arthritis and walking is difficult. But, I can bike without any problems. Is it possible to rent a bike here and there instead of for the whole trip? Also, do I HAVE to wear a helmet? I'd prefer not to.Thanks for any tips. Wendy

Hola Wendy - cycling the camino is in reality not much different from walking it. Yes there are sections that are not "bike friendly", especially for the less experienced cyclist, but then there are the sections - basically from Burgos to Santiago where you can follow more than 80% of the walking trail. (I will send you a detailed PM of my experiences).
Now for renting a bike - the longer period you hire a bike the less it cost per day to hire. There are a number of organisations in Spain and Portugal who will rent you a bike for periods of between 5 and 15 days - its up to you to determine when/where/how long.
Helmets - my understanding of Spanish road rules as pertains to cyclists/bike riders is that helmets are mandatory outside of suburban cities/major towns. So as the majority of the Camino Frances is considered a "public or rural road" helmets are mandatory. So they do not look "cool"; well neither does your brain after your skull has collided with one or two of the average size rocks on the camino road. You are not permitted to ride a bike on the major autoroutes/freeways - these are the "A" roads (usually shown in blue on Spanish road maps), but you can ride on the "N" road (often shown in red) on those sections where the camino is not bike friendly or where is totally follows the road - say from Fromista to Carrion de los Condes.
My recommendation - do a search of earlier bike posts - especially those by "newfydog" - and then come back with more questions. (I should get the PM away later today (Sunday) or tomorrow). Cheers for now and Buen Camino.;):D
 
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David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
Hi David -

Thanks for your excellent post here - lots of food for thought for Wendy and helpful with her planning.

The reason why I suggested to Wendy that she has her pack transported is that she mentioned that she wanted to rent a bike "here and there instead of for the whole trip". This made me wonder what she would do with the pack when she was cycling. She couldn't cycle with a large (heavy) pack on her back due to balance problems. Unless it was a small pack that she could have on the rear rack of the bike, she might find that a larger pack on the rear rack will make her unbalanced as well. Of course, if Wendy were to rent panniers as part of the bike package this would solve the balance problem and she could just have the empty pack on the rack - hopefully the balance problem would be solved. When she handed the bike in she could transfer the contents of the panniers into her pack and walk the next section.

Cheers - Jenny

Hi Jenny - ah, I see your reasoning but I don't think it necessary as one doesn't need to fuss with a backpack and panniers - as all one needs is a light backpack .. one can wear it whilst walking or cycling or bungee cord it to the backrack - no problems with balance or stability - no worries ;)
 
Past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
I brought my own mountain bike and helmet...but if you mountain bike the hiking trail you don't need to wear a helmet unless you bike on the roads...but I biked a 1,000 km in Spain and never wore my helmet...also I biked through Burgos into the Meseta with a Spaniard and he did not wear a helmet either...he told me that the Police stopped him once and asked if he had a helmet and he told them he was a Pilgrim so nothing happened...we actually stopped Police in Burgos to ask for directions without helmets and nothing happened...the worst incident I had was biking over a bridge leaving some little town and the Police passed me in a SUV going the other direction honking and yelling for me to wear a helmet...so I just waived and yelled back...Buen Camino.
Kurt - if you are on a public road - and much of the Camino Frances IS a public road - then it is mandatory for a cyclist to wear a helmet. As for your Spaniard not wearing a helmet because he was a pilgrim, well I have not actually read the Spanish road rules but I have not heard this excuse being accepted. My reasons for wearing a helmet - apart from it being the law - I like my brain and want it to go on working well for the rest of my life. also there are some very rough off-road sections on the camino!!
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Past OR future Camino
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
also there are some very rough off-road sections on the camino

Mike - My guess is the local police are told not to harass the Pilgrims for minor offenses because it could create bad public relations...also you must live in a very flat part of Australia if you think the Camino has some "very rough off-road sections"...because in Colorado I usually cannot push my mountain bike uphill but instead have to carry my mountain bike uphill on my shoulder...and I rarely wear a helmet unless I am doing serious downhill dirt trails and then I wear a motorcycle helmet...and I doubt that a bike helmet would have made any difference when that car almost hit me straight on speeding around a blind turn under a bridge at 50+ km/hour in a 25 km/hr speed zone...but in Leon we road up to Police officers twice with no bike helmets asking for directions and never had it mentioned to us...also I had to teach my Spanish biking partner how to "jaywalk" across busy streets in Leon which he had never done before in his life...but as a former "outlaw" skateboarder I just got high riding down the sidewalks in cities doing basic skateboard moves...like pole grab tight turns, riding between cars stopped in traffic, and "bunny hopping" curbs...and for the Camino I changed my mountain bike handle bars to dirt bike BMX handle bars with extension for more stability on dirt trails...a Spanish biker told that my handle bars looked like the "horns of a bull"...but also there were several places where I would not ride on the road because dangerous drivers...once a Spanish Pilgrim told me to ride on the road while I was pushing my mountain bike uphill to the Cruz de Ferro...so I just pointed at the road and responded "Camino Morte".
 

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