Long term goal Camino de Santiago

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by florencethnurse, 3 Aug 2019.

  1. florencethnurse

    florencethnurse Well-Known Member

    South Yorkshire
    ok so I just told mr florencethnurse my long term goal is to cycle the Camino and he laughed but I think it’s a reasonable long term goal I’m looking at say up to a 5 year plan
    My parents walked the route, but I’d like to cycle it, I know it’s tough but can be done on a budget.

    I reckon if I continue with my slimming world journey and start doing some longer rides there is no reason I should not be able to do it

    What do forumites think and anyone done it, any tips which bike. And time of year particularly...
    Andy in Germany and netman like this.
  2. AuroraSaab

    AuroraSaab Well-Known Member

    I found a bit of info here:


    Sounds like the longest day would be less than 40 miles, though it rates the fitness required as 4 out of 5.
  3. Debade

    Debade Senior Member

    Connecticut, USA
    We walked the Camino a few years ago. There was a guy about 30 who dropped maybe 50 pounds during the walk. He ended fairly fit. A sample of one.

    We have some friends that biked it with the entire family. We did not know them then so I don't know the age of their children at that time. But the book might indicate it. I only say this as it might help decide the level of challenge. They produced a youtube and wrote a book. Here are the links. Perhaps this could be helpful https://www.google.com/search?q=bik...QHHbg4Ap8Q9QEwBXoECAgQCQ#imgrc=GRZYY0nBqkej8M:
    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUgvn5jkBgA
  4. alicat

    alicat Legendary Member

    Any ride should be eminently feasible with five years' preparation. It's good to have a dream for go for it. ^_^
  5. I have an Italian friend who has done it. She loved it
  6. HobbesOnTour

    HobbesOnTour Über Member

    The Netherlands
    Hi, what a wonderful plan to be making!

    The Camino can be a fantastic experience.Note - I said can!

    First things first, 5 years is a very long time for planning - there is a danger of over-planning or over preparing which means less of a reaction. If 5 years is chosen because that’s when you have the time or money, then that’s different. If 5 years is what you think you need to plan such a thing, I’d suggest you think again. The unhappiest people I met were those that had very specific ideas of what the Camino "should" be like, normally due to far too much research.

    Secondly, you’ll want to decide if this is more of a typical Bike Tour or more of a Pilgrimage experience. As much as I hate defining things, I think it is an important first step that will help you decide on timing and length.

    To my mind, the Pilgrimage experience implies a slower than normal place, frequent stops to mix with other pilgrims, visits to interesting places along the way and mixing it in the Albergues (Hostels). It implies a less planned, more go with the flow type of trip.

    The Touring experience is more destination based, staying in more private accommodations. You can go with the flow, too.

    A typical pilgrim is up before dawn, and therefore early to bed. A typical cycle tourer is later to bed. In a lot of places most pilgrims are in bed when the town is coming to life. Some of the best food is only served later! :-)

    I did both, cycling from my home in NL, joining the Camino Frances at St. Jean Pied a Port, following to Santiago, then hitting the west coast, before wandering back along the northern coast, approximately following the Northern route (in reverse). For pure experience, I loved the Camino proper. For cycling, I enjoyed the wandering more.

    You can cycle on roads the whole way, if that is what you want. Or you can try the walker’s path.
    The roads in Spain are great, traffic is incredibly respectful. The path is various surfaces, some impossible in rain, some impossible in sections unless you’re an experienced MTBer with no baggage. Sometimes the road is right beside the walker.

    I followed the walker’s path as much as possible, but….. It often meant me sitting down for an hour or 2 in the mornings having a coffee or 3 while I let the crowd disperse along the path. It meant I walked, pulled or dragged my bike over the most inhospitable sections. It meant I cycled very slowly because there were lots of people walking lost in thought.
    However, I had some great conversations with people along the way and I firmly believe that it heightened my experience over the road options.
    The last 100 km from Sarria was so busy, I only cycled the route in late afternoon when most of the walkers were already finished for the day.

    Don’t forget there are different routes to Santiago, so you can approach from different angles.
    CrazyGuyOnABike will have journals of people who have done different routes.
    Caminodesantiago.me will have lots of info on routes etc.

    One thing I will strongly suggest is to take your time. Depending on your route and your comfort levels there are places to stop and stay every 5 -10 km or so. You don’t have to do big mileage days. In fact, it’s often nice to explore an area in the morning while waiting for the walkers to spread out and then head off on the route proper. If you can take the time, use it. You won’t regret it.

    Expect poor weather, especially rain. The rain can be heavy!
    Expect hills!
    Navigation is easy, but not foolproof.
    There is a fantastic infrastructure so there is no need to worry - about anything.

    A lot of walkers develop a “Camino family” of people they see most days, eat with, walk with etc. These bonds can become very strong. Unfortunately, these are more difficult to develop for a cyclist as we tend to move faster than most walkers.

    I did it on a no-name hybrid bike with front suspension, carrying 4 panniers and a tent on tyres that were 1,4 inches wide. The only thing I’d choose differently would be wider tyres. Comfort is everything. From St. Jean to Santiago, I think was 15-16 days. If I’d taken a few more days I believe i’d have enjoyed it even more.

    Timing depends on your route. Spring can be wet. Summer busy. Autumn, I think would be a good time.
    There are no shortage of services in Santiago for boxing/packing your bike and shipping it home. There are also packing services at the airport. Again, easy logistics.
    Fit a bell and use it.
    Learn a little Spanish. It enriches the experience.
    The Brierly guide is the most famous (English) guide book for pilgrims with the result that most people stay at his stages. Therefore, don’t follow his stages! :smile:

    My story:
    I had planned on doing the Camino from St. Jean in September, catching a bus down. In the end, I decided to pack in my dead end job in April and within a week of making the decision I was on the road. So very little planning was done. I biked to Paris, (picking up a stamp at Notre Dame - very Dan Brownish with secret doors etc!) across to the coast and followed the Velodyssey down to Bayonne. Over to St. Jean and started the most famous route - Camino Frances.

    That first morning departing St. Jean was a highlight simply because almost everyone was starting. The atmosphere was fantastic! (I highly recommend starting or joining in at an established starting point for this reason).

    Truthfully, Santiago was a let down. I found it very commercial. On the advice of a friendly bar-tender, I headed for the coast. Fantastic! Then Finisterre. Then the wandering commenced. I really enjoyed that. The freedom to sleep when I wanted, sleep past sunrise was wonderful. It was a relief to be back in my tent.

    Please don’t be one of those cyclists who bombs past people walking on the path. There are a lot of people for whom walking the Camino is the realisation of a long held ambition. Flying past is just disrespectful in my view.

    The problem with an idea like this is that once it takes root, it just grows! ^_^

    Forgive my verbosity:blush: P1010525.JPG P1010739.JPG P1010443.JPG P1010469.JPG P1010495.JPG P1010537.JPG P1010746.JPG

    Buen Camino!
  7. alicat

    alicat Legendary Member

    Wow, what a great post! So encouraging. Where's the Double Like button?
    tom73 likes this.
  8. mudsticks

    mudsticks Über Member

    Of course you can do it.
    I hope your partner becomes a little more supportive about your plans.

    As @HobbesOnTour on tour says there are plenty of variations.

    But also I'd agree about the dangers of overplanning, but I think that's maybe down to personality.

    Most of my tours have a beginning and an end point (pre booked trains)
    But things can get a bit random in the middle.

    The idea (for me) of touring, especially solo, is the freedom, and chance to change plans at a moment.

    I'd say don't turn it into a mission, that has specific winning and losing goals, such as monster mileage, or ridiculous hill climbs..

    Unless they're you're thing.

    As they say in the walking community 'Hike your own hike' HYOY.

    So why not bike your own bike.

    I'm doing Santander, to Western Galicia this Autumn, route not yet totally decided.

    I take a tent too, so as to have maximum options for stopping.

    To me tha adventure is in the unexpected, and travelling through unexplored landscapes, meeting new people, eating different food, all that stuff.

    Just beware it becomes a bit addictive..

    Maybe this was the origin of your husbands nervous laugh..
    Once you've started....

    Autumn and spring are probs better than mid winter, or mid summer.

    But of course you can do it.
    Your bike just has to be serviceable, comfortable, and capable of carrying some bags.

    It doesn't have to be top of the range anything.. They say 'steel is real'.. But it turns out other frame materials exist in reality too :blush:

    All I'd say otherwise, is don't take too much luggage.

    Pare down to the essentials - only one lightweight evening dress, for example:rolleyes:

    Then get going, and maybe try some shorter tours in UK first (assuming you are in the UK)
    All uphill and Andy in Germany like this.
  9. YukonBoy

    YukonBoy The Monch

    Inside my skull
    Of course you can do it. Have your dream, work towards it, and when you think you are ready give it a go. Turn your dream to reality and ignore the naysayers.
  10. RobinS

    RobinS Senior Member

    I don't know your fitness and experience levels, but assume from the Slimming World reference you are overweight. However unless you are morbidly obese - 30plus stone, 5 years is far too long a planning and preparation period. Contrary to what some people would have you believe you do not need to be slim and fit to cycle a very long way. My wife and I are just back from a three month 4500km+ tour around Europe (see travelogue "European Tour 2019"). When we started we had not ridden a bicycle since last September, and hardly much then. Janet is a Slimming World regular and would admit to being over 3 stone overweight when we started. We worked on the basis that day 1 is good training for day 2, week 1 for week 2 etc, and by the time you get to month 3 you feel fit! If you want to do it plan it for next year, and you will have plenty of time to get ready. (incidentally Janet lost 1st 4lb on tour despite eating and drinking loads!)
    deptfordmarmoset likes this.
  11. mudsticks

    mudsticks Über Member

    I'd agree with all of this, you don't need to be superfit, just able to pedal a bike, and have some persistence.

    Also if you leave it for five years you'll look back then, and wonder why you didn't start (four) years ago.

    Of course there may be other reasons such as work, that you have to leave it that long.

    But don't feel the need to overdo the fitness prep, just be realistic about your daily mileages.
  12. HobbesOnTour

    HobbesOnTour Über Member

    The Netherlands
    I've notice the OP hasn't come back. I hope that's because she's busy already out on her bike!

    But if not....

    My first experience as an adult on a bike was setting off on an old clunker and breaking down (physically) after a massive distance. As it turns out, it was 6km!^_^
    I kept at it though and when that bike literally fell apart, a friend gave me his old hybrid.
    The next year I used my holidays for a supported tour on the Danube (my bags being carried from hotel to hotel!)
    The year after, I set off myself heading south through Germany, carrying my own bags.
    The year after that was Spain & the Camino.

    Every forward step built my confidence. Every backwards step (and there were plenty of those!) were a lesson learned.

    What was surprising (for me) was the lack of support and sometimes downright opposition from some of those closest to me. It's not for me to speculate on their motivations, but sometimes people don't want us to stretch our wings, even a little bit. That may be because they just don't "get it", it may be because their own fears are holding them back. (There I go speculating on their motivations! ^_^)
    Nobody ever said "You can't do it", but there was lots of "Are you not worried about....?" or "Check in every hour/day so I'll know you're still alive". Way too much of planting negative seeds.

    My advice is to concentrate on enjoying your cycling. Find nice, quiet local routes. Pay attention to the nature, the birds, animals, plants, sounds and when you're comfortable start to imagine cycling in Spain, stopping for a cafe con leche and some tapas, enjoying a vino tinto at the end of the day and chatting with people from all around the world who are heading on the same journey you are.

    In a less serious vein, on a cycling trip you can eat like a horse and really enjoy your food, completely guilt free! And the Spanish food is fantastic! ^_^

    Buen Camino.
  13. mudsticks

    mudsticks Über Member

    It's interesting isn't it, how people will react / project their own fears.

    It may even be a bit of jealousy, or lack of imagination, on their part.

    Although imagination can be a double edged sword when your camping in the middle of nowhere and all those strange noises start up.

    Similarly, I started touring just rode off on whatever bike I owned, with varying methods of luggage attachment.

    Now its slightly more refined..
    Lightweight camping gear etc
    But certainly not state of the art by a long shot.

    The journey is the thing for me.

    But mmmn, Spanish food, is an added bonus.. :smile:
  14. HobbesOnTour

    HobbesOnTour Über Member

    The Netherlands
    I believe firmly that the psychology is the most important and most interesting aspect of bike touring. And like bike touring, it's deeper and broader than we might think at first glance.
    I base that on the people I know, sometimes with great gear, who never venture on a tour, on encounters with people I've met on the road who were either giving up or not enjoying themselves, despite having all the material things to succeed.
    Similarly, the happiest were often those with the least suitable bikes/gear but who had a smile plastered across their face.
    Then there are those I meet who say they'd love to do something like what I'm doing but quickly follow up with they'd never actually be able to do it. I used to be one of those and am grateful that I left that attitude behind.

    The great part of bike touring, for me, are the encounters - with people and places, or the environment, in other words. Of course, there is still our "normal" environment to consider. Our touring environment can be welcoming or hostile and all the places in between, but so can our "normal" environment. The trick is how we deal with it. Experience, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones a little bit (and then discovering they're not that uncomfortable at all!) is the way to proceed - or at least it has been based on my experience.

    And yes - don't read any Stephen King while wild camping! ^_^
  15. mudsticks

    mudsticks Über Member

    Absolutely, all of this.. I don't read or watch horror of any sort, at any time. For this very reason.

    I recall perusing the bookshop in Oban, for suitable nighttime reading material 'entente'.. Before going up the Outer Hebrides.

    I very much enjoyed 'The Loch of the Green Corrie' by that esteemed Scottish writer whose name escapes. (to my great shame) quality writing, but nothing fear inducing.

    I've had to ditch novels along the way, sometimes, if they've taken a dark turn :blush:

    The most rational person in the world can start imagining all sorts of shapes and shades at 4am..
    I guess that's why they call it the witching hour.

    It's sensible to be cautious, in practical matters, but really most of the world out there, is pretty friendly to the touring cyclist, on the whole.. I've encountered great kindnesses.

    But I think a lot of that is to do with how you meet the world out there.

    Friendliness, curiosity, and generosity of spirit is more often than not reciprocated.

    As is the obverse..
    HobbesOnTour and Andy in Germany like this.
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