Camino de Santiago is a world-famous network of routes, established by pilgrims hundreds of years ago, who would go on a typically religious-related self-exploration journey from their hometown to Santiago de Compostela.
While Camino de Santiago Spain routes are slightly more popular, there are also established routes in many other countries across Europe.
For instance, Camino Frances, Camino del Norte, Camino Portuguese and Camino Inglés are all popular European Camino ways.
However, while most people choose to walk these routes, some much prefer biking them.
The Camino de Santiago Route is described as being a veinous network of many different paths instead of just one giant way. You can choose your route based on a bunch of different factors.
These factors include how close it is to you, how many people you want to be around, and the landscape. Camino Frances includes a lot of mountains, and the Portuguese Coastal Way is more sea-faring.
In total, there are 9 different routes to choose from. No matter which route you choose, the tips we have for you today will remain the same. It’s always a good idea to be well-prepared no matter the journey!
Biking one of the Camino de Santiago routes is perhaps slightly more challenging physically, but you will also be able to cover a much longer route and therefore see more of the beautiful local culture.
Here’s how to prepare for any of the bike routes!
5 Things You Need to Know Before Biking Camino de Santiago
Start Biking Regularly
If you’re not someone that bikes often, or at all, that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself to a Camino biking holiday.
However, you must also keep in mind that biking the Camino de Santiago may sometimes require some physical stamina.
The difficulty of your chosen route may not be that high (i.e. there may not be that many steep hills to cycle through), but you will still be biking for 4-6 hours per day, which is longer than most people are used to.
It is, therefore, a good idea to start biking regularly, perhaps to and from work or for just an hour every evening.
Doing this will ensure that once you have to be on the bike for quite a few hours every day, your body will not be shocked – but rather take the rewarding challenge.
Choose the Right Bike
Not everyone is able to choose a type of bike they will take with them on the Camino de Santiago trip. This highly depends on the route you have chosen – for more hilly routes you will ideally choose a mountain bike.
It is also recommended to choose a bike that has front suspension, as that will hurt your arms less during the long hours of biking.
If the bike you have is completely the opposite of this, perhaps it’s a good idea to rent a suitable one for the trip.
Prepare the Necessary Equipment
The absolute worst thing that can happen to you while biking the Camino ways is your bicycle breaking down, leaving you unsure how to fix it.
Most of the Camino de Santiago routes will lead you through small local towns and tourist attractions, so you can be sure you won’t get stuck in the middle of anywhere.
However, you will never be sure that you will be able to find help if needed.
Think about the different scenarios and prepare for them as much as you can. For example, pack a little toolkit to fix basic issues, bring some oil for the chain and a little air pump for the tires.
Some other useful but lightweight tools include straps, insulating tape, a spare cable, a spare inner tube, etc.
Don’t forget to consider any safety measures too. A helmet is essential and you should wear it every time you are riding a bike, especially on the more dangerous, busy roads.
Consider bringing a small first-aid kit, with some painkillers, plasters, and antiseptic liquid in case you fall or hurt yourself in any other way.
You should also ensure that you have water with you at all times during your trip – it can get very warm if you are doing your Camino route in the spring/summer season, so staying hydrated is incredibly important for your health and safety.
Make sure that both the front and the rear lights on your bike are working properly, so you can safely cycle in the dark hours too. You should also have a working horn or a bell on your bike to act as a warning system for other bikes and passengers.
Lastly, you can feel completely safe during your biking trip in Camino de Santiago, however, bringing a padlock and a chain for when you leave your bike outside is common sense and should always be done.
Bring the Right Clothes
The clothes you wear during your biking holiday will really depend on the weather conditions of your chosen Camino route.
If you picked one in Spain or Portugal, it would most likely be sunny and warm for most of it, so bring light clothes, sun protection, and sunglasses.
In more rainy places, such as the UK or Norway, consider bringing a raincoat and rain protection for your backpack. Having a breathable windbreaker jacket in your backpack could also come in handy.
Other than that, it is always recommended to prioritize practical and comfy clothes during your biking trip. Trainers or other types of comfortable shoes are the way to go. Leggings or cycling shorts will keep you dry and breezy while staying comfortable too.
Essentially, try to pack as light as possible but bring enough changes of clothing for hygiene, including your swimwear, underwear, and other clothes you may want to change in for dining in the evenings.
It may be the best idea to pack fewer clothes but do a quick hand wash once or twice during your trip.
Choosing to bike the famous routes of the Camino de Santiago can be an excellent way to take care of yourself mentally and physically! It can even be an excellent family bonding experience.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is no easy walk in the park. Before embarking on any of the Camino de Santiago routes, you must be prepared mentally and physically!
As stated in the article, there are many ways to do this- the simplest is to start biking regularly! Get into the routine of biking, and push yourself a little further each time. Give yourself time to prepare!
Once you choose a route on the Camino de Santiago, make sure you have the right type of bike. A bike suited for joy riding will not be super helpful on routes such as the Camino Frances where you’re practically riding through mountains and hills!
Always make sure to pack the right clothes and review all recommended safety measures! Hydrate and eat well before you go. As always, err on the side of caution!
We hope these tips will help you on your biking adventures on this historic and picturesque bike route. Hopefully biking the Camino de Santiago will be the bike trip of a lifetime, or inspire you to incorporate bike riding into your daily life!