Camino de Santiago

by antigob

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Just got back from riding this pilgrim trail in Northern Spain. I went with my Dad and brother Joe on a trip organised with Explore! This was good because they carry your luggage, and bad (only a very small way), because the bikes you get are big, heavy hybrids. They’ve seen a bit of wear so there were punctures, snapped gear cables and strict instructions from our guide Izzy, to only ride on the ‘big plate’ downhill with the wind behind us. But go because everyone should ride at least once through the Galician countryside and the tour is pretty good.

I can tell you this:

  • Riding downhill at 35mph is way harder than grinding up a mountain
  • ‘Spanish Flat’ = rolling hills
  • Get your climbs in before the sun gets hot at 2pm
  • Don’t be a vegetarian
  • Octopus is your food, not mine
  • Skip breakfast, eat fruit and pull into a café for a coffee. Hotel breakfasts along the trail are universally bad
  • Ah, but with the exception of Hotel Suiza in Arzua. It might look like it’s out of No Country For Old Men, but the food and wine are really good
  • Walker, Texas Ranger is bizarrely compelling in Spanish
  • Kem Nunn’s Dogs Of Winter is my favourite book this year. It’s like Riding Giants meets Deliverance.
  • Mariokart 7on the 3DS, what can I say? Mi amor.

Those on the Camino can be split roughly into two groups: religious pilgrims and adventurers. The really hardcore pilgrims walk the route barefoot in heavy woolen robes. The hardcore cyclists at the end of their ride hold their mountain bikes above their heads in Santiago Square and scream ‘Yeaaah!’ My bike was too heavy for any of that.