Cycling the Camino de Santiago
There are different ways to make the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. While most do it by foot, plenty go by bike as well. In fact, 10% of pilgrims went by bike last year. With a portable camera like those used below, its easy to share in that same experience of cyclists even if we have not made it this way ourselves. In the video below, the highlights of cycling the Camino have been compiled into an inspiring 4 minute video.
So What are the Main Differences for Cycling The Way?
1. It’s a lot quicker.
Quite obviously, if you go by bike you’ll finish much quicker! This means that you’ll have less time spent in the albergues and small villages along the route. You’ll see the highlights of the scenery and see the landscape change. However travelling at 110km rather than 20km per day this will be over hours rather than days.
2. It’s more difficult to meet new people
Most people cycling the Camino set off with other people. When you’re going at higher speeds along a main road, it’s difficult to strike up a fresh conversation with someone in their second language. Still, you’ll get to know others in the albergues and campsites, but often have different schedules for the next stage.
3. More technical problems
The only problems your likely to have when going on foot is some ripped luggage, leaving possessions by mistake or dealing with blisters. On a bike you have punctures and other technical problems with your bike too.
4. Can be dangerous at times
Sometimes the roads can get quite foggy, and on long winding roads in the mountains cars can be travelling fast. If you’re an experienced cyclist who’s used to travelling on and off cycle lanes then you can handle it, but for casual beginners it’s advisable to practice first.
5. Not quite as traditional
Its pretty special to feel you’re walking in the same footsteps of pilgrims over hundreds of years, but on a bike it’s not the same! This might not be a problem for most, but for those looking for the most authentic experience there might be something missing.
6. It’s costly
Logistically there’s costs involved in transporting your bikes to the starting point, and then bringing them home again from Santiago de Compostela. Some people buy bikes in France and then sell them/ give them away once they arrive at the Cathedral. However if you are attached to your own bike, and don’t want to buy something on a budget that’s low quality for two weeks of non-stop cycling, then you are going to have to cash out for transportation.
Hey, You Missed Out All the Positives?
That said, there’s a lot to be said in favour of cycling. If you don’t have much time to do the whole route then you can fit a lot more in a shorter time. If you’re an avid cyclist then you can combine your love of cycling with an ancient Catholic tradition. It’s good for your health and fitness: all those steep incline climbs up hills will build up your fitness like nothing else!
Highs and Lows of the Journey
The youtube film at the top of this article was a very brief intro to the scenery seen by cyclists. This next clip shows a more personable journey from an English couple who traveled from St Jean Pied de Port.