PC #79 – Cyclists…

Okay – use the bell baby! Let’s devote a post to cyclists.

My daughter and her boyfriend at the time, a renown restauranteur from the Basque country, cycled the Camino several years ago while she was working in Spain.

That’s how I first heard about the Camino.

He was very fit, she wasn’t – and it was tough for her. She got sick from drinking non-potable fountain water, but even so they cycled from Roncesvalles to SdC in 11 days, with two days off due to the illness.

She said that walkers don’t realise how difficult it is for cyclists – you have to literally carry your bike, laden with all your packs, over some sections that are too rocky or steep to cycle. Also her brakes failed going down the hill from the Cruz de Ferro. She nearly killed herself.

Also, they encountered some hostility from some pilgrims, who resented cyclists. They had their tires slashed one night.

Also, there were some albergues that wouldn’t accept them until all the walking pilgrims had got beds – cyclists were second on the priority list.

My personal experience with cyclists was always very favourable. I remember having a wonderful chat with a fellow – a cyclist from Germany – while we climbed up Alto de Perdon. He was walking his bike, because the track was too rough.

I remember wondering at the time how difficult it must be hauling the bike up rocky mountain tracks.

The way I figured it, the cyclists were very skilled riders and there was never any chance of them knocking me over. And most of them always called out something cheery as they passed.

They were all part of the colour and texture of the Camino. Plus I did take a terrific shot of a Japanese cyclist, on the Meseta –

The Alien

5 thoughts on “PC #79 – Cyclists…

  1. Bill,

    I agree, I have the utmost respect for cyclists.

    One might say that is because my eldest son is a mountain biker. But there has to be a tremendous skill level there, especially with any off-road cycling. You won’t catch me attempting that especially on Camino!



  2. I too only had positive experiences with cyclists. They were generally a very friendly, happy crew.

    We came across an English father and son team with whom we became good friends over a week or so. The son talked his Dad into doing the ride with him because he wanted to do something together before his father died. The father maintained that his son was actively trying to kill him.

    The dad had done a lot of cycling in his youth but not for many years. The cyclists physique had long gone and his lycra sort of didnt quite cover his paunch these days. But he had the most wonderful smile and pride in his son that more than made up for any other shortcomings.

    They had a vehicle and would camp the night in the car. In the morning they would decide on a meeting place then the son who was super fit would ride some outrageous distance and the father drive as far as he wished before setting off on his bike. They would then meet for a late lunch, the son ride back, pick up the car and drive to meet up with Dad.

    I just remember so much laughter and fun between the two of them. It was just delightful to see. Not to mention such a hoot bumping into them over and over again. Sometimes they stuck to roads and sometimes they went on the walkers path. I remember Dad saying they had made a terrible mistake when they decided to take the path up OCebreiro.

    The Camino is great for restocking the memory bank.



  3. Unfortunately, my memories of cyclists are not so pleasant. On a number of occasions, I’d be jolted out of my thoughts, by a cyclist whistling past at a rate of knots (if that nautical term can be used for bikes!!), often churning up the already muddy ground I was trying to get through at the time. I did wonder at some of my low points (tired, in pain … you know the story!) whether they actually sadistically chose to thunder past, splattering mud, and why the heck (thought I’d be polite in writing!) they didn’t just stick to the road and more than anything I wondered why they hardly ever used their bells or even voice would have been good, or at least not until they were so close that it invariably made me jump at the surprise of them about to seemingly run me down – so not a single good bicycle memory from this pilgrim! 🙂


    • Ah Britta –

      sometimes these things can be so much a consequence of time and place.

      That’s the extraordinary thing about the Camino – two people can walk the same track at pretty much the same time, and have vastly different experiences.

      Seems like you had a bunch of inconsiderate riders. I noticed the closer I got to Santiago, the less considerate the riders became – but I sensed those were the ones that had come into the Camino late – from Astorga etc.

      Ultimately, good experiences and bad, things happen for us to learn from. People come into our lives for a reason – sometimes to hold a mirror up.



    • I’m with Britta here (and as most of you may know now, I was with Britta on the Camino last year). I confirm our particular experience of the cyclists generally was not great. The fact that we had had so much rain meant that everyone, those on foot and those on bikes, had to navigate their way along muddy paths and the cyclists sometimes chose to ‘burn’ their way through it, as Britta said, with the result that those walking copped all the spray. Not good! However, at the end of the day, over a glass or two of tinto, the cyclists we chatted to were all great – particularly the Spanish guys in Villafranca in the VERY crowded restaurant on a Saturday night! Camino memories! Guaranteed to make you smile! Cheers, Jenny


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