Bicycle Adventures, a Pacific Northwest-based active travel company specializing in two-wheel tours in North America, Hawaii (the Big Island) and internationally, now combines the passion for bicycling with a spiritual component intrinsic to Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route across northern Spain’s Basque region through the Spanish Pyrenees.
A 14-day, nearly all-inclusive, professionally guided small group tour, Camino de Santiago, averages 40 miles a day on bikes that weave around and ahead of walking pilgrims (whose journeys on foot take up to a month). Departures are scheduled May 2 and May 17, 2015. The per person, double rate is $4,450. See: http://bicycleadventures.com/destinations/spain-bike-tours/Camino-de-Santiago—NEW!
Cyclists pedal to Galicia on Spain’s northwest coast from Pamplona in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. Enroute are ample samplings of the wines of Rioja, a tour of Burgos’ gothic cathedral and the tomb of Spain’s favorite son, El Cid, and the exhilaration of the wide open plains of Castilla Leon. The trip concludes with a toast at the destination, the shrine of the Apostle St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The complexity of cultural influences on this part of the Iberian Peninsula will drive cyclists to ponder myth and reality over that next glass of wine. Think Hemingway and the running of the bulls in Pamplona (San Fermin Pamplona July 6-14, 2015). Think medieval Spain when El Cid (so-called by the Moors who invaded the region in 711) achieved immortal fame in the 11th century. Think Galicia whose earliest inhabitants were here 200,000 years ago, making their marks on this verdant coastal area below 6,000-foot mountains.
Kempton Baker, the Bicycle Adventures (http://bicycleadventures.com/) guide for this tour said, “I did the Camino in 2005. I fell in love with the food, the spirit of the place, the landscape, the people. I felt comfortable and welcome there. I’ve ridden the route eight times now and can’t wait to return with a group of cycling enthusiasts!”
The biking route is the same that walkers take. However, rather than the mental and physical fatigue of a month on the journey and sleeping with upwards of 150 pilgrims in dorms at night, cyclists engage in sightseeing and enjoying relaxed meals and accommodations in delightful posadas (Spanish inns) and even a restored monastery.
“An advantage of cycling,” said Baker, “is that bikers get to meet many more pilgrims. We ride up to a group, slow down, exchange pleasantries, and then bike on to another exchange.”
This trip on two wheels, he said, is designed to test one’s mettle and have a lasting effect on your spirit and outlook on life.
“We don’t go around any mountains but straight over them, just like the pilgrims do. This is one of the things I really like. This trip has the ability to really change your life. It changed mine. It’s a profound experience meant to make you think about the rest of your life, question your choices. I think it does a great job of doing that. It’s a transformative trip,” Baker said.
As do walking pilgrims, cyclists obtain a Pilgrim’s Passport and official Camino de Santiago stamps. Riders pass by trout streams known to Hemingway and settle into tapas bars for leisurely feasts. The route passes through Atapuerca, the UNESCO World Heritage site whose caves cradled the remains of the earliest known human beings in Europe. Not all, however, is ancient, as a day is spent in Leon where bikes are stabled and shopping and sightseeing pursued.