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Renting a bicycle on a whim on the Meseta?

Brian E

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June (2018)
May (2019)
I will be picking back up from my 2018 Camino at Burgos and end in Ponferrada in 2019. Still like my job and too young to quit or retire yet so can only typically get 2-3 weeks per Camino. As of now I have no rest days planned and a pace of about 17 miles/day. I am starting to have thoughts about at least one rest/site seeing day in Leon however and possibly even another to shorten the distances per day.

To save a day or two I would much rather bike than catch a bus or taxi so curious if on a whim I could rent a bike and drop if off 30-40 miles ahead to gain a day? Say, somewhere like Ledigos and bike into Leon would be one example. Or maybe bike from Leon to Astorga would maybe be another decent option.

But, with all that said and as I learned from this year's Camino I was very fortunate to fall into a wonderful camino 'family' so to speak so if that happens again that trumps all and will just roll with things at that point.

Thanks for any insight or suggestions...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (May 2019)
Thanks for the post. I'm thinking of the same thing for the same reasons. I will be starting in St Jean in late April/May and, hopefully, going all the way. I'm curious to see the responses.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
Hola @Brian E & @Douglas Christel
Welcome to both of you new members. Be prepared for a virtual avalanche of replies on this subject. The Meseta is somewhat of "holy grail" that many pilgrims will tell you "has to be walked"! Well I have both cycled it and walked it (first in Sep 2015 & again in May 2017).
I took my own bike but have read reports on bike hire and know of people who planned similar adventures to yourselves. The best advice I can offer is that you may be able to hire a bike in Burgos but you will more than likely have to ride it all the way to Leon to arrange for its return - oh and it will not be cheap. One week hires are usually the most expensive.
If you are not experience "rough road" riders there are sections of the Burgos/Leon Camino that are both testing and tiring. The descent into Hornillos (down mule killer hill) and the climb and descent of the BIG hill following Castrojeriz are two that come to mind. I actually walked up this hill quicker in 2017 than I rode it in 2015. From the bottom of this hill to Fromista and Carrion de los Condes & Sahagun is some of the best gravel road cycling I have experienced, but I enjoyed it more at 4-5 km (2 miles) per hour than I did at 20km / hr. Oh and you will need a bike helmet - they are compulsory in Spain outside of town areas. Cheers for now, hope this helps!!
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)

Kat Kostrzewska

Online guide https://caminodesantiagobybike.co.uk
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2018), Via Tolosana (2012) Camino Norte (2014)
Hi

Yes, it must be possible because this year in June I met in Ponferrada lovely American girl who walked the Camino from Saint-Jean-Pied-du-Port but to save time she decided to cycle in Meseta. Just google ‘cycling the Camino’ and you will find a tour operator. It looks like there are plenty of them.

I absolutely agree with Mike about cycling in Province of Burgos so if you really, really have to cycle then rather try the stage between Fromista (or Carrion de los Condes) and Leon (or better Mansilla de las Mullas; cycling in Leon is a challenge).

I walked the Camino and I cycled it numerous times (on my own bike, so can’t help you with finding the right tour operator)… I understand that you don’t have too much time but personally, I would have never skip Meseta. It’s too cool.

The sky will stretch out above your head. It will feel a bit like being in the desert. The intervals between towns will seem to be longer than before and there will be nothing in between. No great art, no beautiful views, only sky to look at.

Everyone of us has his/her own reason to do the Camino. We all know that it is not about walking or cycling. And that part of the road is a perfect place to think about it. And perhaps find some answers.
 

Brian E

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June (2018)
May (2019)
That's the issue I will probably run into...I only want to maybe cycle a day or two so that might be problematic vs. cycling the whole Meseta and renting a bike longer term in between big cities.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
They are not always readily available when you need them without booking ahead.
Last year when we reached Sahagun and my sisters blisters (rhyming not intended) were so bad, she decided to cycle - it wasn't possible to rent one. She ended up buying one instead.
 
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ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
We rented bikes to cross the meseta as that’s the only flat bit of the Camino. We had the bikes delivered to Fabricca, a wonderful albergue in Tardajos, 10kms outside of Burgos. We travelled 170kms to Leon, where we returned the bikes, and did the 170kms in 2.5 days instead of 6-7 days if we were walking. Our bums were sore, but it was a fun experience!! It’s best to send your pack ahead, so your bike is balanced - I fell off the bike the first day, into a soft ditch which was actually quite funny - but you have to commit to going where you’ve sent your pack.
 

pvh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015 hopefully
Because my wife and daughter (aged 13) aren't great walking long distance without shade in August, we decided to cycle Burgos to Leon this year.
We used http://www.recicleta.org/
The person we dealt with was a lovely woman called Belen who brought the bikes to where we were staying in Burgos and gave us everything we needed (helmets, panniers, tools, spare inner tubes etc and even water bottles and locks). She brought a selection of bikes for the 4 of us, and fitted us to them. She was very easy to contact and was waiting for us in Leon, 4 days later. All for the total price of €66/bike. I'd really recommend giving her a call/email because they were so accommodating and flexible, I'm sure that they do pick ups and drop offs all along the route so would probably suit your needs.
Her email is saltandocharcos@yahoo.es
Regarding the actual route, it was a joy on bikes, at times with the big sky's, endless horizon and bucolic landscape I almost felt like I was flying. Some of the path needs care but it is not at all difficult, even for my only very occasional cyclist wife and children and the mountain bikes with suspension eased out any extremes. The hill out of Castrojeriz is the only bit that we walked at the last bit but we easily managed between 40 and 50 km each day in 40 degrees Celsius because when you're cycling there's a constant breeze.
It certainly is not as social as walking because it harder to casually fall in and out of conversation with fellows. However, at rest stops/cafes/churches etc I was surprised that we socialised with both walkers and cyclists, more so than with just walkers while we were too were walking.
All the accommodation en route had left us secure places to leave bikes too.
Hope it helps.
 

Brian E

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June (2018)
May (2019)
Thanks PVH, this was helpful. I absolutely enjoy and prefer walking and socializing and taking things slower and as they come and only want to bike one or two days max, if at all. Just might be nice to know if that is an option if i needed or wanted to make up a day or two on bike. Without unlimited time and days it becomes a reality to explore options...
 

pvh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015 hopefully
Indeed. There are several companies that do bike rental along that way so I'm sure one will provide what you are looking for. You can also try bicigrino, velobur and many others in addition to Ricicleta if you want to get an idea of flexibility and prices etc. They all offer flexible drop of/pick up places.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked in "2016"
Thanks PVH, this was helpful. I absolutely enjoy and prefer walking and socializing and taking things slower and as they come and only want to bike one or two days max, if at all. Just might be nice to know if that is an option if i needed or wanted to make up a day or two on bike. Without unlimited time and days it becomes a reality to explore options...
Brian,

I just came back having completed the Meseta segment of the Camino, beginning in Burgos and ending in Leon. In between, my friend and I did two days of biking from Castrojeriz to Sahagun. Should I be I covering the Meseta once again in the future, I would not be biking again. Although I've been biking for many years, mostly for pleasure, I found biking on the Meseta to be nerve wracking in spite of all the voices on this forum claiming that this is flat terrain and that it's a breeze.

While much of the Meseta is flat, there are portions with significant elevations. For example, we had to literally walk our bikes for about half a mile during the ascent to Cerro de Mostelares (3000 feet) out of Castrojeriz. Ordinary walking pilgrims were out of breath by the time they reached the top. You can imagine what kind of a condition we were in by the time we reached the top.

But it's not just the elevation. Huge portions of the path are full of pebbles/gravels. Many a time we felt that we didn't have any control over the bikes and literally fell off them on a number of occasions. Actually right close to Sahagun, the pebble laden path descended sharply and I lost total control of the bike, fell on my right side and ended up with an inch and half of cut right below my eye-brow.

In addition we found that you have to concentrate on your biking so much that you almost lose sight of the surroundings. It deprives you from enjoying much of the haunting beauty of the landscape that Meseta is so famous for. Also we had to constantly compete for space with the walking pilgrims, especially when the path got narrowed.

Finally our hands and joints remained sore for the rest of the trip from holding on to the handle bar that sent a convulsion throughout our bodies as soon as the bike hit the rough patches.

All said and done, it would probably a very different story for very experienced or serious bikers who generally take the highways to bike the Meseta. We saw many of them all along the route. But for casual bikers the risks of riding on the highway should not be taken lightly.
 

Kat Kostrzewska

Online guide https://caminodesantiagobybike.co.uk
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2018), Via Tolosana (2012) Camino Norte (2014)
I really like your description of cycling in Meseta And yes – you are right flat like pancake is only the stage between Boadilla del Camino and Calzadilla de la Cueza and again between Sahagun and Mansilla de las Mullas.
 

Kat Kostrzewska

Online guide https://caminodesantiagobybike.co.uk
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2018), Via Tolosana (2012) Camino Norte (2014)
Brian,

On a serious note. Cycling in Meseta is amazing, but if you cycle only that part of the Camino - after many days of walking - it may be like described above.

Mark Conelly wrote above about renting a bike in Leon and cycling to Astorga. I think that it's a good idea. It is not the most inspiring part of the Camino and it is much nicer to cycle it than to walk it. 50 km, moderately easy, hilly as you get closer to Astorga but then you will have an empty tarmac road just for yourself.
 

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