Biarritz to Bilbao

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
jimt
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Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby jimt » 25 Apr 2012, 8:28am

I'm planning to cycle to friends in Bilbao, starting in Caen towards the end of June. I've worked out my route as far as Biarritz but am unsure about the last legs. I'm contemplating taking a coastal route through San Sebastian and Lekeitio and thence through Gernika to Bilbao. I'm having difficulty judging how hilly this route is and therefore how long to allow. Also should I cut inland from Lekeitio to Gernika, or take the longer coastal route via Elexalde? I shall be staying in hotels / B&Bs and want to book ahead so working out daily mileage is crucial. Any advice about route and "hilliness" will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

mrjemm
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby mrjemm » 25 Apr 2012, 8:41am

Hi there. Sounds like a great ride that I'd like to try myself some day.

It is hilly down there around Bilbao, but after riding down there you'll be fit as a flea! (?) Have you tried Bike route toaster? http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx That gives you the lumpiness on it's summary tab after you've made up a route. Great fun to play with too.

Gernika's a bit dull itself but the coast there is lovely- it's a beautiful estuary there, though recall hearing it was messed up a bit by geo-engineering works where they'd tried to dredge and messed up the flow. Probably still gorgeous though. As mentioned on another thread, Bilbao is probably my favourite city in Europe, but San Seb is popularly rated as better for pintxos (little tapas) and it certainly is impressive like that.

Have fun. Jem.

johnb
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby johnb » 25 Apr 2012, 8:43am

http://ridewithgps.com/ you should be able to get elevation profiles here to aid your planning.
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John-D
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby John-D » 25 Apr 2012, 11:07am

I did this in reverse in 1996 on my first proper tour. It was before I discovered you could get the low gears I use now but I managed fine (and I don't recall it being any worse in the other direction); though I was doing low mileage days. (And I was overloaded - I was with 2 16 year olds and I was under strict instructions not to overload the little darlings!).

My route was:
http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=335713
http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=350200
http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=335701

The summary tab shows the profiles.


I deviated into the Pyrenees to a campsite where friends were staying before Bayonne, so ignore route the French side of the border.

jimt
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby jimt » 25 Apr 2012, 1:48pm

Thanks all. You've answered my questions fully. I'm finalising route and bookings now. Anyone wants a copy, just ask.

bikepacker
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby bikepacker » 25 Apr 2012, 2:18pm

Just remember to keep away from the tunnels between St Jean de Luz and San Sebastian. They are really dangerous and technically cycling is prohibited although some do cycle through. If you want any specific routing around this area let me know.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

T other Dave
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby T other Dave » 3 May 2012, 9:43pm

Did it last year, as said it's lumpy indeed but once youv'e gone that far your cycle fit. I didnt have a proper map as such so I made up bits as I went getting out of San Sebastian was fun :roll: That section I started from Lit-et-mixe through Biarittz and camped in Saint-jean-de-luz (mostly coast Bayonne is where the hills start). Bayonne into Biarritz at 5 pm-ish was crap. Then coast road to San Sebastian, becarefull not to end up on the Motorway ( easy done :oops: seen a sign for Donostia and took the turn :shock: ) Time in San would be good, very nice place if suns shining, coming out towards Bilbao is up. I used pasao del faro (toll at top) and just follow the coast, stayed at a nice little campsite Endai just before Lekitio. Stunning ride which was probably my favourite day between St Malo and Bilbao,the sun shone (sun cream a must) the veiws were awesome, the Atlantic crashing over the sea wall and spray to cool/refresh. I woke to find a drizzle day so rather than coast road I just wanted to get to Bilbao and to the port so Guernica it was (you have to go to Guernica anyway to get round the estury/river) and the bi-635? To be fair even in the rain it was a nice ride very lumpy again but very enjoyable, going into Bilbao though on a rainy day was not, was glad to finally find the port. In short Biarritz to Bilbao 2 days, yes its hilly. Plenty of water and snacks some bits seem remote on some sections and it's spain they have siesta and a hot day see's you low on water at 2pm.
Enjoy, Dave

Johnsmith
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby Johnsmith » 23 Aug 2012, 7:04pm

jimt wrote:Thanks all. You've answered my questions fully. I'm finalising route and bookings now. Anyone wants a copy, just ask.

jmt, we are cycling from Bilbao to San Sebastian on Saturday 25th August and want to avoid the motorway and trunk road route. What route did you use for this journey and is it doable in a day?

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IanSmitton
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby IanSmitton » 23 Aug 2012, 9:03pm

Hi John,

I know your question wasn't directed at me, but I've done the route several times so maybe can help.

You can do the route in one day - but it will be a long hard slog, and the scenery is so nice that I would highly recommend taking two days - staying somewhere like Lekeitio / Mutriku if you want to stay somewhere in the middle - or Zarautz if closer to San Seb.

I would try to follow a coastal route for most of the way. There is a good route out of Bilbao that follows the Camino de Santiago (but going the wrong way), starts near Bilbao cathedral, and is very steep for about 2km but then you are straight out into the countryside - close to the Artxanda Golf Club. From there you can drop down to Larrabetzu and climb up another hill to Morga (this is a bit of a slog, but again the scenery is nice). From here you drop down into Guernika.

From Guernika, tou have to head north on the main road for a few km, then you can either follow the coastal road round to Lekeitio (slightly longer), or cut off the corner by taking the turn to Basetxeta. Both ways are rolling, with a few steep sections but nothing too difficult.

From Lekeitio the best way is straight along the coast to Zarautz (quite a busy section between Deba and Zarautz) - this is rolling but you can maintain a good speed. From Zarautz, I would climb over past the txakoli vineyards to Orio. Then from Orio, by far the best route is the road running parallel to the motorway (only real option on a bike), which finishes at Mont Igueldo just on the edge of San Sebastian. This has one fairly long steep hill at the start - but it only lasts around 3-4km.

If you went this route, the toughest part is between Bilbao and Guernika - so if you really wanted to do it in a day, you could catch the train to Guernika from Bilbao (Euskotren) and go from there. Another option would be to get the train from Deba to Zarautz (avoiding the busy section) - but that is also quite a scenic part.

Johnsmith
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby Johnsmith » 24 Aug 2012, 8:35am

Thanks Ian, your information is just what we needed - we are heading up beyond Bayonne afterwards, do you have any useful tips on the difficult bit from San Sebastian to Saint Jean de Luz?

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IanSmitton
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby IanSmitton » 24 Aug 2012, 10:35pm

Getting out of San Sebastian to the east is a bit tricky, because there is an awkward one way system and several tunnels where bikes aren't allowed. There is a way to do it if you follow the main road through Gros and then alongside the side of the port - but you have to go on the main road there which isn't great for cycling it's also easy to take a wrong turn and end up close to the motorway. I would recommend getting the local Cercanias train from wherever you stay in San Sebastian to either Lezo - it's only takes about five minutes.

From Lezo you can take the GI 3440 up to Jaizkibel - this is a really great road, fairly quiet and with views out to sea, but it is quite steep in places. From there you descend into Hondarribia, and have to work your way past the airport through Irun and Hendaye. This is nowhere near as bad or diffiuclt as looks on a map - there are even cycle paths on part of the route - you just have to stick fairly close to the river and cross at the first bridge you see (after the railway bridge).

From Hendaye to St Jean there are two options. The D912 runs along the coast and is very scenic, but is busy and quite narrow so not ideal for cycling. The other option is about 1km further inland running parallel to this (not sure of the name), which is very quiet. It is also scenic, but is a bit more up and down than the coastal road. Both end up on the outskirts of Ciboure - just next to St Jean.

There is one other option - to go south of San Sebastian to somewhere near Astigarraga and make your way through some of the country lanes to the south of the motorway. I did this once going the other way, but can't remember the exact route and, to be honest, it wasn't very enjoyable - there are no signs and you have to stop to check the map every few minutes. Also you would have to drop down in to Irun and Hendaye anyway. The first way is really nice once you get out of San Sebastian and, although the first bit is uphill, you can make good progress because it's so easy to follow the road.

bikerwaser
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Re: Biarritz to Bilbao

Postby bikerwaser » 26 Aug 2012, 11:55pm

i did St Malo to Santander in May this year and it was amazing.
the Basque country was really hilly but the views were incredible and well worth the sweat. we stayed in Lekeitio in a campsite that was up the highest steepest hill but again it was worth it.
before we set out on the ride this following link was something we based our route on. it proved to be perfect.
it has a gpx file attatched for full detail.

http://www.routeyou.com/route/view/5098 ... ith-gps.en