BEST BIKE for the Camino


good bicycle is a must. Mine has survived five trips to Northern Spain and numerous flights with cheap airlines, which is even more impressive. I had some problems on the way like a loose chain for instance, but as experienced cyclists, we know how to handle these difficulties.

You can ride a mountain bicycle like most of Spaniards, or a decent hybrid like a Dutchmen I met, or touring bicycles like Germans tend to (the route I describe is not suitable for road bikes as half of the distance is off-road). I am tempted to say that you can’t do the route on a Brompton but as I know you guys, somewhere out there is the guy who will do it on a Brompton. So I resist.

And now here it is the part I love – where an author of a guidebook gets to describe his expensive state of the art bicycle. And the reader is getting smaller and smaller. So, I am cycling on a 6-year-old, three hundred pounds female hybrid. It is slow and indestructible, like a tank. It is white, which I hate, but at least I don’t have to worry that someone will steal it. Because who would want a white bicycle? And if you ask me what kind of gears it has I will answer the kind of gears you expect a three hundred quid bicycle to have. My bicycle is fantastic. I never had a single problem on the route. I can rely on it in all situations – slalom between lorries in the rain, going down slippery stony roads or cycling off-roads in Galicia. I am more than happy about its performance.

Two Korean cyclists debate if it is ok to do the Camino on bicycle like mine. The correct answer is YES. Hospital de Orbigo, Province of Leon Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

From the very beginning, the idea behind this guide was to encourage you to go to your shed and take out your bicycle. You don’t have to have gear worth thousands to do this route. Your bicycle has to be comfortable and in very good working order. If you have an older bike, don’t save money on repairs but pay for every single part that needs to be exchanged. The route is difficult, so use common sense. Other than that if you really want to go to Santiago, just take your bike and go.

Adjust physical preparation to the trip to your general health and physical condition. Before the journey, cycle A LOT. Cycling to work on weekdays and off-road in your neighbourhood at weekends should prepare you well. The Camino is hilly and mountainous at times and on the first day, you have to cross the Pyrenees. Take the preparation of the equipment, the bicycle and yourself very seriously. Really the Camino the Santiago should start at one’s doorstep so, treat the preparations for the trip as the very beginning.

2 thoughts on “BEST BIKE for the Camino

  1. I like your initiative and will to share your experience and I agree on it’s not about what bicycle you ride.
    I’ve never used a bike on my Caminos, but I have ridden a lot on bicycles where I live. Ordinary bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes. Commuted for years 60 kilometres a day all year round. So I’m interested in bikes and have always watched with interest the bikes the cycling pilgrims are using and the equipment they carry.
    So yes, your observations are absolutely right. The pilgrims from Spain zooms past you on the newest and most modern mountain bikes with modern lightweight equipment attached to them (they zoomed past but we’re always considerate and carefull, I must give them that). The northern European pilgrims tends to use heavy sturdy bikes. They sometimes made me think of Clydesdale horses. Solid, strong and unbreakable. Both bike and rider.
    I particularly remember a young woman from the Netherlands who had tramped on her old and heavy, well worn, slightly rusty but unbreakable hybrid bike of a non-descript brand all the way from somewhere in the Netherlands over the Pyrenees down to the Camino. Though she was blonde her face and hands were dark tanned and weather bitten due to weeks of exposure. She had obviously been through some rough weather on that journey! She was a student and from the looks of her equipment and bags she was clearly on a limited budget. But it was obvious she knew that bike in and out and how to keep it in working order with a minimum of effort. She took the time it took to get that chunk of heavy metal over the mountains. And (and that’s one of the reasons why I remember her) she had her violin case on the most prominent place of her luggage carrier! That case stood out against the rest of her equipment and immediately caught the attention. You couldn’t carry that one on a mountain bike.
    Yes there was something about that quiet, determined and always smiling girl, happily completing her Camino alone on that old well worn bike, her outdated bags, old second hand equipment and tools, not exactly stylish and anything but modern bike clothes (no modern tight fit neon clothes there!). With her violin case attached to the carrier. I wonder if she made it all the way to Santiago and back home. Undoubtedly she did!
    So yes, it’s not about the bike – but about the will and determination to do the pilgrimage.

    Liked by 1 person

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