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Part of the Meseta on a bike

Camino(s) past & future
Walked in "2016"
#1
My friend and I plan on covering part of the Meseta (Castrojerirz to Sahagun) on a bike. Is this part of the Meseta paved? If not, is it graveled? How easy is it to maneuver your bike on this surface?
 

Kimtom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances on bike (2014)
Frances on foot (2019)
#2
My friend and I plan on covering part of the Meseta (Castrojerirz to Sahagun) on a bike. Is this part of the Meseta paved? If not, is it graveled? How easy is it to maneuver your bike on this surface?
No problems for a bike on this stretch.
Have a wonderful ride!
 

Kimtom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances on bike (2014)
Frances on foot (2019)
#4
A few more thoughts...
On the Camino I always take the path when possible and the roads as a last resort. Coming out of Castrojeriz I started on the path for the intriguing hill but turned back and took the paved road which went off to the right. I don’t remember why I did this. It may have been fatigue from sleeplessness due to high winds out on the meseta the night before combined with the memory of the effort to reach Perdon Pass, a trail of large fruit sized rocks followed by the stickiest mud on the planet which I scraped from my tires with a tire iron every few meters.
So I can’t speak for that one hill.
I ride a touring bike with with strong rims and only a slightly wider and toothier tire than most road bikes, and do not have trouble in gravel. Just takes a little more concentration than on a mountain bike to stay upright if it’s a newly graded road with thick gravel. Cobble stones are another story...
Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept 2017 (bike)
#5
Just a thought, not sure how long you want to be on the bike, but I did that section last year in 1 day. It was a long day but certainly do-able if you have experience on a bike
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#6
@Gadflyparexcellence , to echo others the walkers path is quite wide throughout. About 2 km on from Castojeriz there is an elevation gain of around 100 m over 1 km (10%) and a 30 m paved drop the other side over less than 300 m (>10%).

Shortly after Boadillo del Camino the path runs alongside Canal del Castilla for about 5km to Fromista. The width of the path is not generous and cyclists may be less than welcome.

Beyond Fromista the path is alongside roads. For my money you are advised to use them and not the relatively narrow path.

I am a walker with significant hearing loss. Even with an aid I often do not hear overtakers until they are right on top of me. And that is very frightening. My involuntary movements, especially with my poles, especially on a narrow path, may cause a cyclist a lot of grief.

Given there is nothing magical about using the walkers route I strongly suggest you bike from Castrojeriz north-west to the N120 and ride that to Sahangun then the N120 / N601 to Mansila del Mulas and on to Leon. I prefer to walk on roads and found the various N roads, and many provincial ones also, had good shoulders and easy curves. And were often lightly used where there was an autovia or similar nearby.

You will still go through the Meseta. Except it will be your Meseta with your unique memories.

@Gadflyparexcellence , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going) and remember to use a helmet.
 

Humbertico

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2018
#7
My wife and I are planning on riding the Meseta from Burgos to Leon (8 stages/ 112 miles (180 km). We are starting our hike in SJPDP and going all the way to Finisterre and to make up time we were going to ride on bike this segment. I see from various comments only certain parts of the meseta are described. Any issues or problems from riding all the way from Burgos to Leon by bike.

Thank you for your imput Perregrinos!
 

pvh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015 hopefully
#8
My wife and I are planning on riding the Meseta from Burgos to Leon (8 stages/ 112 miles (180 km). We are starting our hike in SJPDP and going all the way to Finisterre and to make up time we were going to ride on bike this segment. I see from various comments only certain parts of the meseta are described. Any issues or problems from riding all the way from Burgos to Leon by bike.

Thank you for your imput Perregrinos!
We are planning on doing this stretch by bike this year too. (We're walking from Logroño to Burgos first).
However, we're planning on taking 4 days though (40 - 50km per day). 8 days sounds like very short cycling stages to me. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not meaning to be critical, just wondering if we're being too ambitious?
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#9
@Gadflyparexcellence , to echo others the walkers path is quite wide throughout. About 2 km on from Castojeriz there is an elevation gain of around 100 m over 1 km (10%) and a 30 m paved drop the other side over less than 300 m (>10%).

Shortly after Boadillo del Camino the path runs alongside Canal del Castilla for about 5km to Fromista. The width of the path is not generous and cyclists may be less than welcome.

Beyond Fromista the path is alongside roads. For my money you are advised to use them and not the relatively narrow path.

I am a walker with significant hearing loss. Even with an aid I often do not hear overtakers until they are right on top of me. And that is very frightening. My involuntary movements, especially with my poles, especially on a narrow path, may cause a cyclist a lot of grief.

Given there is nothing magical about using the walkers route I strongly suggest you bike from Castrojeriz north-west to the N120 and ride that to Sahangun then the N120 / N601 to Mansila del Mulas and on to Leon. I prefer to walk on roads and found the various N roads, and many provincial ones also, had good shoulders and easy curves. And were often lightly used where there was an autovia or similar nearby.

You will still go through the Meseta. Except it will be your Meseta with your unique memories.

@Gadflyparexcellence , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going) and remember to use a helmet.
Very diplomatic @AlwynWellington.

After our last CF and our experiences with cyclists, including being hit three times (the last one almost ended in a fist fight) I am sorry to say I am vehemently anti-cyclist on the Camino walking routes.

I will refrain from any further participation in threads about cycling. It might get me banned ;););)

P.S. I am sure all the members here who cycle the Camino are careful and considerate.
Sadly in my experience, the rest of them, probably 80-90% are not.
 
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Humbertico

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2018
#10
@Gadflyparexcellence , to echo others the walkers path is quite wide throughout. About 2 km on from Castojeriz there is an elevation gain of around 100 m over 1 km (10%) and a 30 m paved drop the other side over less than 300 m (>10%).

Shortly after Boadillo del Camino the path runs alongside Canal del Castilla for about 5km to Fromista. The width of the path is not generous and cyclists may be less than welcome.

Beyond Fromista the path is alongside roads. For my money you are advised to use them and not the relatively narrow path.

I am a walker with significant hearing loss. Even with an aid I often do not hear overtakers until they are right on top of me. And that is very frightening. My involuntary movements, especially with my poles, especially on a narrow path, may cause a cyclist a lot of grief.

Given there is nothing magical about using the walkers route I strongly suggest you bike from Castrojeriz north-west to the N120 and ride that to Sahangun then the N120 / N601 to Mansila del Mulas and on to Leon. I prefer to walk on roads and found the various N roads, and many provincial ones also, had good shoulders and easy curves. And were often lightly used where there was an autovia or similar nearby.

You will still go through the Meseta. Except it will be your Meseta with your unique memories.

@Gadflyparexcellence , kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going) and remember to use a helmet.
 

Humbertico

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2018
#11
The Stages were in Byrleys book outlining the distances hiking. We are planning like you in cutting it at least by half. I agree with you. We are starting mid Sept. Buen Camino!
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#12
A few more thoughts...
On the Camino I always take the path when possible and the roads as a last resort. Coming out of Castrojeriz I started on the path for the intriguing hill but turned back and took the paved road which went off to the right. I don’t remember why I did this. It may have been fatigue from sleeplessness due to high winds out on the meseta the night before combined with the memory of the effort to reach Perdon Pass, a trail of large fruit sized rocks followed by the stickiest mud on the planet which I scraped from my tires with a tire iron every few meters.
So I can’t speak for that one hill.
I ride a touring bike with with strong rims and only a slightly wider and toothier tire than most road bikes, and do not have trouble in gravel. Just takes a little more concentration than on a mountain bike to stay upright if it’s a newly graded road with thick gravel. Cobble stones are another story...
Buen Camino
Sadly the route out of Castrojeriz has been ruined by dramatic "road improvements" even worse than the walk up to O Cebreiro.

What used to be a narrow winding goat track climb up to the top of the ridge now looks like this:

1531570812383.jpeg

While the descent has been concreted over like this:

1531570858437.jpeg

IIRC there was even a snack truck parked at the top (2016?) - progress eh?
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
#13
Any issues or problems from riding all the way from Burgos to Leon by bike.
@Humbertico , I my opinion (and of others - for example, see @Robo also in this thread) there are many issues AND problems with bikes on paths not suited to them. In the gite at Uhart-Mixte (just before Saint-Jean) a cyclist from Germany and I were the only guests. He had started from his home and planned to be in Pamplona (nearly 90 km) the next day: he travelled on roads

On the Frances, the issues and problems for bikes start at Saint-Jean.

Much of the path from Roncesvalles to Pamplona is narrow and winding with a bank on one side and a drop to a stream on the other. A standout issue AND problem is at Calle San Roman, Zirauki / Cirauqui. Attempting to man-handle a bike on this stretch is going, in my view, from the sublime to the gor-blimey. From Hontanas to near Castrojeriz the path is, literally, a sheep track deepened by many walkers over the years.

In my part of the world there are many shared paths in recreationnal areas: they are wide and often paved. And all have signage saying "Pedestran Priority"

As a guide to the separation between and cyclist and a walker, think of the distance you want between you and motor vehicles passing you. In the jurisdictions I know of it is 1.5 metres. You will not have that on most of the paths!!

As I have written above, make your own, pleasurable, camino. And where you stay each night you can talk to others of the unique magic you have encountered along your way.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going - away from walkers)
 

Kimtom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances on bike (2014)
Frances on foot (2019)
#14
@Humbertico , I my opinion (and of others - for example, see @Robo also in this thread) there are many issues AND problems with bikes on paths not suited to them. In the gite at Uhart-Mixte (just before Saint-Jean) a cyclist from Germany and I were the only guests. He had started from his home and planned to be in Pamplona (nearly 90 km) the next day: he travelled on roads

On the Frances, the issues and problems for bikes start at Saint-Jean.

Much of the path from Roncesvalles to Pamplona is narrow and winding with a bank on one side and a drop to a stream on the other. A standout issue AND problem is at Calle San Roman, Zirauki / Cirauqui. Attempting to man-handle a bike on this stretch is going, in my view, from the sublime to the gor-blimey. From Hontanas to near Castrojeriz the path is, literally, a sheep track deepened by many walkers over the years.

In my part of the world there are many shared paths in recreationnal areas: they are wide and often paved. And all have signage saying "Pedestran Priority"

As a guide to the separation between and cyclist and a walker, think of the distance you want between you and motor vehicles passing you. In the jurisdictions I know of it is 1.5 metres. You will not have that on most of the paths!!

As I have written above, make your own, pleasurable, camino. And where you stay each night you can talk to others of the unique magic you have encountered along your way.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going - away from walkers)
Sadly the route out of Castrojeriz has been ruined by dramatic "road improvements" even worse than the walk up to O Cebreiro.

What used to be a narrow winding goat track climb up to the top of the ridge now looks like this:

View attachment 44532

While the descent has been concreted over like this:

View attachment 44533

IIRC there was even a snack truck parked at the top (2016?) - progress eh?
 

Kimtom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances on bike (2014)
Frances on foot (2019)
#15
Thanks for posting the pics - kind of heart breaking
Sadly the route out of Castrojeriz has been ruined by dramatic "road improvements" even worse than the walk up to O Cebreiro.

What used to be a narrow winding goat track climb up to the top of the ridge now looks like this:

View attachment 44532

While the descent has been concreted over like this:

View attachment 44533

IIRC there was even a snack truck parked at the top (2016?) - progress eh?
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
#16
Re so called ‘improvemements’: so very sad to see this on the beautiful meseta! My heart sinks looking at those photos. This was highly unnecessary it so would change the experience, and not for the better. Whoever thought of this never walked the Camino, I dare say!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May/June 2015, via the Atlantic Cycle Route
#17
I'll just throw in an observation here for anyone considering riding a bike part of the way.... and that is to think about how you will carry your pack.

If you're going to use a bag transfer service, then there is no issue.

However, if you want to carry your pack yourself, you should think of the best way to do this.

Carrying it on your back is not comfortable. At all. Nor is it particularly stable. If that reads a bit meh.... I mean you really don't want to carry your pack on your back!

Strapping your pack to a rear rack is the obvious solution, but it means that the weight is located higher on the bike, which in turn makes the bike more unstable. Throw an unfamiliar bike, loose surfaces, climbs and descents into the mix and it can become more difficult. Furthermore, if you ever need to push up a steep uphill, weight located high on the rack will make for an interesting climb! :)

Panniers, where the weight is carried lower down on the bike is by far more stable, so enquire about those wherever you are getting your bike. And put the heavier items in the bottom of the panniers.

Not everyone will agree with me, but I don't believe any specific cycling clothing is required except for gloves and glasses.
Gloves will help you keep a grip on hot, sweaty days and protect your skin in the event you fall. Glasses will keep the bugs out of your eyes on the descents.

Bikes are great for the simple reason that you can range further than on foot. No room at the inn? Just pop on down to the next.
Something interesting over there? Just toddle on over and explore.
Is this the perfect place to spend a few hours? Soak up the view and still make it in time to catch a place to sleep.
And best of all, exploring the bigger cities at dawn. You can get to see everything, no traffic and watch these places come to life! I highly recommend it!

I'd caution anyone against using a bike because you can go faster as well as further. There are times and places where you simply cannot if you want to take the path as opposed to the roads.
Depending on the time of the year, there can be lines of pilgrims leaving in the early morning. And as noted above, some paths are narrow. Walking speed only. Of course, you can make up time later in the day. In fact, often the paths are completely empty at that time.

Finally, everyone thinks they can ride a bike..... and most are correct.
However, there is a difference between riding a bike and travelling longish distances, on Camino paths with baggage. I would strongly suggest that unless you have experience you beg, borrow or steal a bike at home, load some weight onto it and go ride the worst surfaces you can find wherever you live.

Buen Camino
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#18
I don't understand why cyclists choose to ride on the walking paths. In some places it is simply ridiculous. In May on the Via de la Plata there was one steep downhill section that was covered in very, very slippery loose shale. Very narrow and hard enough for walkers - a death trap for cyclists. Alongside was a well graded curvy road - far longer, but much safer. I saw not a single vehicle on it. And along came a group of six cyclists. After pausing at the top and looking at their maps, which route did they take? The shale. I had to stand on a narrow lip of the path to let them past. One of their members was an obviously terrified woman who eventually got off her bike and walked it down the rest of the hill. It took ages. With obvious difficulties trying to manoeuvre the bike. Nuts.

There are nearly always almost-deserted roads that parallel the walking paths.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#20
Hola @Kanga; @Flatlander. As one who has both cycled and walked the Meseta I can understand the views of the walkers. However for much of the Meseta the walking trail is in fact a local road which all pilgrims share with cars & tractors etc. As I remember it the section from Fromista to Carrion the walking track parallels the road so I rode the road. Last year when I walked we took the alternative track away from the crowds and the cars/trucks. It was a real shock when we rejoined the main trail at de Sirga!!.

@Jeff Crawley well I remember this climb & descent on the bike in 2015. The snack truck at the top was really appreciated. As for the "improvements" (especially the descent) as I understand it this is a local road and the improvements (the 800-900 metres of concrete) were installed at the request of the locals (ie the people who pay the local rates & taxes). Having not seen any of the Frances before 2015 I cannot comment as to whether this is an improvement!! Cheers
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Walked in "2016"
#21
Thanks to all for your thoughtful and constructive feedback. Very well taken.
I'm very aware of how menacing bikers might be to walkers, especially on narrow paths. I particularly remember the hair-raising experience I had on my descent from Alto del Perdon in Navarre a couple of years ago. In a split second, bikers would appear from nowhere without any warning and graze past me at a real high speed. Thinking about it still gives me the chills!
I'm a slow biker and fully intend to give preference to the peregrinos along the way, even walking my bike as needed.
Thanks again.
 

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