Camino, briefly!

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Heathbrook
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Joined: 7 Jul 2015, 2:22pm

Camino, briefly!

Postby Heathbrook » 23 Jul 2017, 4:02pm

Afternoon all,
Can I get your thoughts on this trip, please? I know it is nice to spend as much time as you can on the Camino, but this trip is a taster. If I like it I will do a longer route when I retire
So, Day 1, EasyJet Stansted to Orviedo, assuming we can get 7 bikes on a flight, overnight Orviedo
Day 2, Orviedo to Leon, 124k overnight in Leon
Day 3, Leon to Astorga 53k, break, then afternoon 53k ride to Pontferrada. Overnight in Pontferrada
Day 4, Pontferrada to O'Cebreiro 53k, break then 50k ride to Portomarin. Overnight in Portomarin
Day 5, Portomarin to Aruza 50k, break then the final 40k to Santiago de Compostella
Day 6, Ryanair to Stansted, if we can get 7 bikes on board
We would near to collect a van at Oviedo airport and drop it off at SdC airport
When is the best time of year to do the trip? We hope to complete the ride on road bikes
Any comments gratefully received!
Thanks

HobbesOnTour
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Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby HobbesOnTour » 24 Jul 2017, 12:54am

Hi Heathbrook,

You're probably not going to like what I'm going to say.

Please note, that I did the Camino de Santiago a couple of years ago, by bike, departing from my home in Holland.

First of all, if you're on road bikes, you're going to be following the road. Already you're losing out on the Camino experience.

Second of all, and, imho, the most important, at the distances you are planning to cover on a daily basis you are not going to have any chance of the traditional Camino experience. By that I mean the connections that you make with people. It's already difficult enough to make connections on a bike anyway, but those distances mean that your group will have practically no interaction with the many diverse people on the Camino.

Thirdly, those distances are only possible outside of June/July/August. It will be just too hot otherwsie.

And finally, and I mean no disrespect, but there are people traveling that route that for them, is the result of years upon years of preparation, saving, sacrifice and with no insignificant spiritual meaning while it seems your group are looking for a route to cycle. The Camino is becoming clogged with people, many treating it as a cheap holiday. I'm no religious believer, but these people are destroying it for the people that it is significant for.

Northern Spain is fantastic for cycling. The roads are great. Drivers are unbelievably respectful. Food is fantastic! and excellent value. After Santiago I went to the west coast then followed the coastline all the way to San Sebastian. Glorious.

If you're not religious, leave the Camino to the genuine pilgrims. If you are, then you're not giving yourself a chance of a true and worthwhile Camino with your plans. Maybe consider the Northern route (Camino del Norte)

There is a specific Camino forum you could ask your question too. Caminodesantiago.me

Myself, I took 15 days from St Jean to Santiago. I followed the walkers route, even over the Pyrenees. The only time I was on the road was when the walker's path was beside the road, simply to give the walkers the space. I didn't do more than 50 km in a day. If I wanted to go faster I'd be disturbing hundreds of Pilgrims. I stopped regularly to talk, to sit, to enjoy the atmosphere.

P.S. Good luck with day 4! :-)

Frank

Heathbrook
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Joined: 7 Jul 2015, 2:22pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby Heathbrook » 24 Jul 2017, 8:31am

Thank you Frank
Food for thought!
I will digest your post and get back to you
Thanks again

Spitdiss
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Joined: 2 Aug 2016, 8:46pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby Spitdiss » 27 Jul 2017, 9:33pm

Just back from cycling Faro to Santiago

Can’t advise on your planned route as came in from the south but that route wasn’t great for road bikes so quite a lot of road cycling this traveling apart from fellow travellers

What we did find was at Santiago airport they only accept boxed bikes rather than the ctc bags we planned to use even thought airlines accept these elsewhere

The Ryanair agent said it was a airport policy rather than airline and we ended up having to purchase cardboard boxes at €17.50 each before we could check in our bikes

HarryD
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 5:44pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby HarryD » 28 Jul 2017, 9:06am

The first question I would ask is why are you thinking of doing this route? If its simply to have a good ride there are far better ones in northern Spain. To get anything out of you need to take your time, relax, meet and talk with people, share experiences, take time out. Solo or in pairs is probably the best way to do this.

The distances and being on road bikes would imply sticking to the roads so missing out on what makes the journey something special. Clearly off road bikes are better but most of the route is cyclable on a road bike if the load isn't too heavy and you don't mind the odd push. We did Sevilla to Santiago last Sept/Oct and kept on the pilgrim route. Me on a mountain bike with treking tyres and Liz was on her Cheviot with 32mm's. Both were fine.

As Frank indicates the distances are quite challenging when you take into account how hilly Northern Spain is. If doing it on the Camino then I would add 40 to 60% to the road distance to give a Camino equivalence.

Why do you need a van? The Camino is supposed to be self supporting, i.e. you take with you what you need and buy food etc as you need it.

Do it but please do it in the spirit it is meant to be done.

Heathbrook
Posts: 30
Joined: 7 Jul 2015, 2:22pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby Heathbrook » 28 Jul 2017, 2:54pm

Thank you for your input
The Camino is something I have always wanted to do. I can't walk it now because my knees have given up.
As you might have guessed, I am a member of a small cycling group and we like to have an "adventure" every year. I was trying to kill two birds with one stone
Maybe I should reconsider the this trip. In an ideal world I will ride it with my three sons and spend more time with them
Now, that would be an adventure!

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 33
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby HobbesOnTour » 29 Jul 2017, 12:48pm

Hi Heathbrook,

I'd actually missed the reference to the van in the OP!
You're definitely trying to kill 2 vastly different birds with one stone! :D

Like you, I cycled the Camino because my knees aren't up to such a hike. And if I was to fly my bike down and start there, I would consider my 15 day trip to be too short to do the journey justice. It's not just a cycle route.

I would imagine it would be a fantastic experience to do with your sons! Take bikes that can handle rough terrain, take your time and have an adventure! Stay in the albergues and experience the rich display of humanity that is on offer! It can take getting used to, but it really is an interesting experience sharing with such diverse people.

There are lots and lots of great cycling routes - but there's not many places like the Camino.

Best of luck

Frank

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 33
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby HobbesOnTour » 8 Aug 2017, 12:46pm

Hi again, Heathbrook,

I came across this and thought you may be interested.

https://www.cicerone-extra.com/cycling- ... e-la-plata

Frank

spicerack
Posts: 42
Joined: 25 May 2010, 1:02pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby spicerack » 8 Aug 2017, 1:33pm

HobbesOnTour wrote:Hi again, Heathbrook,

I came across this and thought you may be interested.

https://www.cicerone-extra.com/cycling- ... e-la-plata

Frank
Yes, yes and yes. That is a really great write up on the Via de la Plata. The only other thing I can add is that because you'll be traveling through a quieter route with bigger towns than the any of the northern routes you won't be competing for space with 'real' pilgrims but you'll still get a taste of what it's like. You could finish up in Oviedo, Valladolid or Santander for easy flights home.

HarryD
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 5:44pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby HarryD » 10 Aug 2017, 9:29am

We did the Camino last year from Sevilla to Astorga then Santiago. We kept to the Camino but used the N630 on occasions. Boy did we find the N630 dull. How dull, very. Not as bad as riding an exercise bike but not that far off. Great for mile munchers and leg turners though. Great for joining the cities mentioned in the Cicerone article, which I agree is very well written, but not very good for seeing things of interest in between. Clearly cannot comment on the N630 north of Astorga but having cycled a lot in Asturias can say there is a lot of excellent cycling there.

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mjr
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Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby mjr » 10 Aug 2017, 12:31pm

HobbesOnTour wrote:I came across this and thought you may be interested.

https://www.cicerone-extra.com/cycling- ... e-la-plata

"While Spain doesn’t have either Sustran trails or Véloroutes" - it does. The Vias Verdes, over 20 years old now: http://www.viasverdes.com/en/principal.asp - but like all rail trail networks, you'll need to use roads to link them and Spain does seem a bit weaker than most of its neighbours at that.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

MartinBrice
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Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 9:57am

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby MartinBrice » 11 Aug 2017, 10:32pm

Spitdiss wrote:What we did find was at Santiago airport they only accept boxed bikes rather than the ctc bags
We flew back with the bikes in plastic bags in May this year, Santiago to Gatwick. The check in bloke said we had to have boxes, we showed him the website that said bags were ok, he phoned his boss and the answer was that bags were ok.
but don't bother - take the bikes to a place in santiago and they'll post it direct to your home for €100, this is €50 more than flying with easujet but worth it money.
i've done the camino norte and the sanabres from seville and in all that time i've met a handful of religious people. so go and enjoy it. in june to august it'll be too hot. april or may are fine, and i did the norte in october, it was fine
galicia can be wet. very wet.
the distances you are trying are long - maybe use the coaches or trains somehow.
but all in all i love the camino experience, it's like an international glastonbury of like-minded people.
this is a very useful site
http://www.bicigrino.com/en/
as is this one
http://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/ar ... e-santiago
i used this guide for the seville route:
http://www.bicigrino.info/tienda_virtua ... 95269.html
superb accurate maps, told you where to leave the footpaths and use the tarmac, easy to understand though it's in spanish.
the roads in spain are superb and the drivers considerate.
i love the place.
the law insists on you wearing a helmet at all times, unless it is hot or you are going uphill. i took one and never ever wore it, but thought it best to have it just in case. the law is supposedly enforced by the minicpal police not the guardia civile, the national police, but i've never ever heard of anyone being fined. but you never know. you're supposed to wear high viz but i never saw anyone wear it.
i was planning a mongolia trip but now aim for spain, it's just brilliant.
be aware that there's a belief you're getting low prices on the camino cos you're a pilgrim but i've found lower hotel and meal prices five miles off the camino. spain is generaly cheap, cheaper than france by a long way.
so i'd say go and do it, you'll have a ball. if you can book the bikes on one plane then i'd fly out with them, and get a company to send them home to reieive you of the stress of flying wth a bike. and a road bike is fine, thick tyres good, panniers not rucksacks. you don't have to ride every inch of the footpaths, take the road, i usually did on the norte, and the seville route was ok on 26 inch wheels with 2 inch tyres
any questions, message me.

Heathbrook
Posts: 30
Joined: 7 Jul 2015, 2:22pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby Heathbrook » 18 Aug 2017, 9:09pm

Thank you for the responses, folks. I will get the maps out and have a look
Sorry I didn't respond earlier. Had a few days cycling in France, based in Le Touquet. Weather about the same as here. Two days sun, then soaked to the skin!

jags
Posts: 575
Joined: 3 Oct 2007, 3:11pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby jags » 19 Aug 2017, 12:15am

done it in 2007 fantastic trip stayed in 4 star hotels had one of the lads drive a hired van .
loved every peday stroke super smooth roads lovely people great food cheap as chips loads tough hills to get over.
go for it enjoy the craic september is lovely. :wink:

robert32asp
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Joined: 20 Apr 2017, 8:51pm

Re: Camino, briefly!

Postby robert32asp » 6 Sep 2017, 7:56pm

I loved most of my May 2016 bike Camino Francis (Pamplona to Santiago). I would echo Franks comments about it being a pilgrimage. On my Camino, I sought to balance being a tourist, being a pilgrim, and being a long distance biker. That meant I took far more time than you are planning.

I would warn you that unless you are an exceptionally fit rider, the Camino will likely kick your butt! Your route includes going over two mountain ranges (yes depending on time of year snow capped peaks/roads). Your Day 3, Leon to Astorga 53k, break, then afternoon 53k ride to Pontferrada. Overnight in Pontferrada; looks like it would be horrible to me unless you practice on lots of mountains. Your afternoon ride is going to take you up in elevation to Cruz de Ferro and then way down through El Acebo (known to some for its bicycle accidents) and even further down to Molinaseca.

Even worse from my perspectiv is Day 4, Pontferrada to O'Cebreiro 53k, break then 50k ride to Portomarin. Overnight in Portomarin. O'Cebreiro is a high mountain village. The road down from there has also claimed lives of bikers. I nearly got hypothermia on the misty ride down from O'Cebreiro to Tricastela and I kept my speed down for fear of slippery wet roads. I rolled into Tricastela shaking (I did wear a rain jacket, down vest, fleece, had thermal gloves, and rain booties) and found a bakery where I spent over an hour drinking hot coffee and warming my body up before biking on to Sarria.

Can it be done? Yes, but they will be very, very long days and you will likely be very tired going up those mountain ranges if you carry your gear. Be careful of the steep decent. Based on years of endurance events, I can tell you that accidents happen more frequently when you are exhausted. I can do over 200 miles in 2 days on a bike, but the Day 3 and Day 4 you have planned, I would not attempt in anything less than 4 days and that would be assuming that the weather was darn near perfect. If the weather is bad, I would schedule it for 5 or maybe 6 days with one or two of them to be rest days or rain days. In May and many other months about 1/3 of the days see some level of rainfall. From O'Cebreiro on, that part of Spain is known for being rainy.

The trails get clogged with hikers so you will need to take the roads at least part of the time. Even the roads while generally good, will take you on cobble stones through parts of towns/cities and on narrow wheeled road bike tires that can result in a heck of a crash. I did my Camino on a hardtail MTB and glad I had MTB wide tires as I did as much trail as was possible (based on the crowds and mud).

Also at the end, most people plan to spend a two days in Santiago as it is an incredibly great City with a great feel to it. Celebrate your biking achievement, spend the 2 to 3 hours in line it takes to get your Compostella (if you have had your Pilgrims Passport stamped along the way) and then go to a special Mass in the Cathedral, afterwards go behind the alter and hug St. James. Spend some time at a local restaurant celebrating the completion of your Camino with other pilgrims. These things will provide you with memories that will last.

I loved doing the Camino. The best advice I got was to "surrender to the Camino and it will provide for you." That means you need to have enough flexibility to do the Camino on its terms not your own predetermined schedule as it will do things to you that will change your plans. Your travel plans have no contingency time. If everything is not perfect you will miss your flight. Everything will not be perfect. A typical bicycle Camino SJPP or Pamplona to Santiago is 2 to 3 weeks. A typical hiking Camino Francis is 30 to 40 days. You are planning to do about half the typical Camino distance in a week. It can be done, but it will be an endurance event.

Good luck and be careful.