The Camino de is one of the most popular routes for walking as well as for cycling in Europe. Most pilgrims feel attrated by wishing to challenge themselves in a new adventure and they want to admire the wonderful scenery that Spain usually has to offer.
If you are thinking in cycling the Camino and you are wondering how it will work. Here you willget some useful information to make your route easier.
In my view, you should cycle the Camino only if you have some experience as a cyclist and you are familiar with essential bike maintenance. It is important to choose the suitable bike for the Camino you are going to cycle and check the bike before you start your journey making sure everything is working properly. Once on the Camino it may become a nuisance to arrange simple things as changing tires.
Bikes depend on each pilgrim and the way they want to cycle the Camino. So we could say that any bike would be suitable. You can cycle the walker´s route on a full-suspension mountain bike or on a trekking bike. You can also take road options for mileage and speed on a hybrid or sturdy tourer. In this way, you would pick the most scenic and smoothly-surfaced off road sections.
Routes of the Camino de Santiago
As you probably know, there are several routes that you can cycle. The most popular route is the Camino Frances. The traditional start of this route is in St. Jean Pie de Port. This is a nice town and the climb over the Pyrenees is beautiful. Camino del Norte is much less busy than the Camino Frances but it is generally seen as a slightly harder route, following the north coast of Spain. You could also choose Via de la Plata route or Camino Portugues, which are not so hilly. However, all the routes have advantages and disadvantages.
The best season
Everybody recommends spring time (March, April, May) or quiet months as October, they usually have pleasant weather and good availability of accommodation. In between it can be very hot and crowded. Outside these months, many places close and the weather may be unreliable, especially on mountains.
Scenic: hilly or plain?
Depending on the route you choose, it can be hilly but maybe not as much as you expect. The most hilliest on the Camino Frances: at the start over the Pyrenees, halfway through moutain villages as near Burgos and O Cebreiro in Galicia. From the ancient monastery at Roncesvalles the route alternates between smooth graveled paths and some of the roughest trail fo the trip. From Pamplona to Burgos the trail can be hard, up and down many short hills and really nice riding. From Burgos to Galicia cyclist realice how luckly they are to be on a bike. There are some long dry sections of good biking which would be a long lonely walk.
You can cycle either the walker´s route, which is 99% cyclable, because it is a mix of shale, farm track and mud path or you can cycle the road route, which is the original route of the Camino, now paved over, and which is a mix of busy major and quiet minor roads. The two routes run virtually parallel. You would be able to choose which track you prefer in each section of the Camino. The route is not difficult mountain biking route in general. There is not much pavement, maybe 10% in the first of Camino Frances and a 30% for the rest. In my view, it is a wonderful ride and it would be a shame to miss it by riding the roads.
It is usually good. You may not need maps or guides, they can be useful though. Within towns and villages the route takes you directly through the historic centres, marked by scallop shell symbols inlaid or embossed in the pavement. Cycle and walking options are well distinguished.
Albergues and hostels are everywhere. Most of them accept cyclist and have cycle storage. Many pilgrims walk just teh last 200km so there are many places to stay towards the end of the trail. When you reach Santiago de Compostela, you can go to the Cathedral and watch a Botafumeiro ceremony. If you do it, go early and get a good seat but leave your bike outside. It is not allowed!
Buen Camino and nice cycling, amigos!