Cycling the Way to Santiago

The Way to Santiago is an ancient institution. For centuries, pilgrims have traveled this sacred route in ill-fitting shoes and without roads to match. Only the richest could be lucky enough to travel comfortably on a pack animal.

However, today we can even do the Camino de Santiago by bicycle. These people are called bicigrinos. But you need to pay attention to a few details! In this article, we’ll talk about the positive aspects of making this journey by another means of transport, what you really shouldn’t miss and, at the end, a suggestion for you! Put your reading in first gear, because we’re about to get started!

Doing the Camino de Santiago by bike gives you more time.

While it takes about an hour to walk six kilometers, you can cycle 20 kilometers in that time. In other words, if you do stages similar to those suggested on the website, you’ll arrive much earlier at the place where the albergues are waiting for you.

This situation allows us to explore the more hidden parts of the Way of Saint James at will, entering places and routes that we would never have imagined at any other time, especially with the restrictions of time and tiredness.

We also gained precious time to rest, discovering the best food on this wonderful route and getting to know the good people of these lands.

Even better, in the months when there is the greatest demand for the route, bicigrinos are able to get to the municipal hostels first, which often operate on a “first come, first served” basis.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the best times of year to cycle the Way of Saint James.

uma seta para quem faz o caminho de santiago de bicicleta

Best times to cycle to Compostela

As we saw in the article on the stages from Porto to the Galician capital, the best months to cycle to Santiago are May, June and September. For two reasons:

  1. The weather is milder. The heat is constant in these parts during the summer months. The combination of the strength of the sun and the breeze means that the race is less affected by the extreme heat.
  2. Fewer walkers. Of course, it’s good to know that the Way of Saint James is never done alone. What’s more, the more people the better. But with weight and measure. This is because the more people who share this adventure with us, the fuller the restaurants, albergues and other accommodation will be.

Between spring and the end of summer, that’s when you should book your trip. Get your legs ready because you don’t even need to save up for a trip to the gym:

It’s cheaper to go by bike.

As with all statements, this one comes with a catch. If you have to buy the bike and the equipment – such as clothes and a helmet – then of course it’s not going to be a cheap trip, as you’re spending more on transportation than on the trip itself.

However, as it’s a quicker adventure, spending fewer days (if you want to) on the Camino, you’ll also spend less on food and accommodation. On foot, the metric used is 1 euro per kilometer. By bicycle, since the kilometer is shorter, it’s worth less. At the end of the day, you can even go out to dinner in better restaurants, so you don’t have any extra money in your wallet.

Nevertheless, make sure you don’t eat too much!

To cycle the Camino de Santigo, you need to be in good shape.

If, for many people, making the pilgrimage is simply putting one foot in front of the other – there are even many examples of people who haven’t even prepared to do the Camino de Santiago – this can’t happen on a bicycle.

The Way of Saint James is as much mental as it is physical, so when doing it by bike you need to have the ability to concentrate, to be focused at all times, to avoid falls and other accidents.

We also need to be used to making such crossings on two wheels. Not just anyone can spend so many hours sitting in the saddle, climbing mountains and covering 70 kilometers.

But without fear. You don’t have to be Froome, you just have to do some more demanding training in the near future.

That and knowing a bit about (bicycle) mechanics.

During the Camino de Santiago, we spent many hours alone in the middle of nowhere. The perfect place to loosen the chain of your companion, of course. The best thing is to understand how to keep a bike rolling. And for that, you need the right tools and equipment, like a first-aid kit for two wheels!

What not to miss in your bike-saving kit!

Swiss Army Knife: These friends from the Alps always come in handy. Whatever the problem, they have a tool for the occasion.

A tire changer: Or a spatula. This tool is great for emergencies, in case you need to change a tire.

Bicycle lubricant:You’re going to be doing a lot of miles on two wheels, so you need to take good care of your transport. Hydration is essential for you and your bike.

Tube and tire patches: For when your tire breaks. Necessary even for shorter crossings.

Hand pump: The road wears down your bike, so at some point you’ll need to inflate your tires.

What to take?

We’ve already written an article on what to take on the Camino de Santiago, but we’ve never talked about bicycles. Although many essentials remain unchanged, such as sunscreen, a hat and comfortable shoes, others always have to be adapted for bicigrinos!

Let’s start with clothing!

Lycra! The invention of the (last) century for cyclists the world over. For those who are used to it, you know how important it is to have the elasticity that this material offers pilgrims on wheels. In addition, cycling shorts will also be important and essential for comfort during the journey! This combined with a proper top for navigating the wind, heat or even cold!
A helmet will also be important, if not compulsory, to maintain total safety during the journey. They also help protect us from the sun or keep us cool, so make sure you choose this travel companion well.

The right sneakers for cycling. Those who don’t practice this sport or are regulars on the Tour de France may not even know that this type of footwear exists. However, they will be important for keeping you safe from the dirt and water you may encounter on the route. What’s more, you’ll often need to leave your means of transport to see the sights, get your certificate stamped or grab a bite to eat. You don’t just have to be comfortable when cycling.

And where do I carry my backpack?

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself how you manage to carry all this on your back. Well, that’s the last place a bicigrin should put his goods. The best thing to do is to take bicycle panniers (proper backpacks, as the name suggests), so you can move around without too much difficulty.

Cycling the Way of Saint James

All in all, cycling the Way of Saint James is – as with all routes – a moment of adventure and a totally different way of traveling from what we’re used to!

And here’s the suggestion we promised at the beginning. Answer us one question, please! Have you done the Camino de Santiago by bike? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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