Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela on a bike.
Most pilgrims still go to the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela by foot. Of the more than 300,000 pilgrims in 2018, 93% completed the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela by foot and 6% by bike. Yet every year there are more and more pilgrims who cycle to Santiago de Compostela. How did that happen? What are the advantages of a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela on a bicycle? How do you prepare? In this blog, you will find all the answers.
Question 1: Cycling a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela. What are the advantages?
Opinions are divided. A pilgrim who walks a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela will say that this way you experience the Camino a lot more intensively than cycling a Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. But doing a pilgrimage on two wheels also has advantages:
- Cycling to Santiago de Compostela is an attractive option, because it is faster than walking and because you can still see a lot. If you want to walk from Pamplona to Santiago, you are walking for more than 30 days. Cycling the same camino takes about a week.
- Going to Santiago on two wheels means you can be a bit less critical of what you bring. The pilgrim who’s walking with a backpack must pay attention to every gram.
- As a hiker on the Camino, you are more likely to experience physical discomfort. Think of pain in the back, legs and/or blisters on the feet. A well-trained and prepared cyclist can ride a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela without any physical discomfort.
Question 2: What is the maximum number of kilometres per day that I can bike on a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela?
That is of course very personal and depends on a few factors:
- The wind: It matters a lot whether you are ridng on the roads with a strong wind at your back at 30 km per hour or whether you are bent over against the wind. Especially on the Meseta (the part between Burgos and Leon) it can be very windy.
- Most of the Camino’s are not really flat. When climbing O Cebreiro or Cruz de Ferro (the highest points of the Camino Frances) a cyclist you go maybe 10 km per hour. And then you have to do your best!
Experience shows that 60 to 80 km per day can be done with a normally packed bicycle. You have to take into account that it is not flat in Northern Spain.
Question 3: Which bike do I use to cycle a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela?
Your bicycle must meet a number of requirements. For example, the frame must be sturdy and stable. Especially if you also transport your own luggage on your bicycle. Most pilgrims opt for a so-called trekking bike (also called randonneur), hybrid bike or Ebike. But what is actually the most important for biking a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela is a bike that is good and comfortable for you. Make sure your frame size is adjusted to your physique and leg length.
Bicycles equipped with the latest gadgets may be fun, but technical masterpieces can break down and the foreign bicycle mechanic does not always have the knowledge and equipment to repair them. Certainly, something to take into account.
If you don’t want to go to an a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela with your own bike, you can rent a bike from us. This will be delivered to the hotel on your first night’s stay. Do you end your pilgrimage by bike in Santiago? Then you can leave the bike there at the Post Office. If not, we will pick up your bike at the last hotel where you spend the night. It is also possible to rent an Ebike. That can sometimes be nice if you look up to the hills or have problems with your back.
Question 4: How do I take care of my luggage?
You can, of course, transport these yourself. However, we can also arrange for your luggage to be taken from accommodation to accommodation. You only take your day baggage with you. These can be stored in the special bicycle bags. Also, ensure a balance between left and right and front and rear (about two-thirds of the weight in the rear bags and one third in the front). And unfortunately, no bag is 100% waterproof, so bring some plastic bags to keep your belongings dry.
Question 5: How do I physically prepare myself?
We know from experience that it is not just about the number of kilometres you can cycle per day. Ultimately, more important is how long you can sit on the saddle. If you can maintain this for at least 6 hours a day in your preparation, you are ready to cycle to Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela. Do not start without and reasonable cycling condition. Of course you also build up along your pilgrimage route. But starting your Camino on the bike without preparation is not smart. Start training well in advance. Also, make sure you have cycled with luggage and in the hills.
Have you become enthusiastic and do you also want to cycle a pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela? View our offer here.
Would you rather walk a Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela? Then you can also contact us. We are happy to help you.
Founder & Camino-expert