Its been a few weeks since the Powton Pilgrims completed thier peddle pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago de Compostela, and I thought I would come in and post some thoughts about the trip, and ideas if you were silly enough to take such a trip on yourself.
Training, start early, ride lots, and the more hills and longer hills you do while training the better. Makes the trip that much more enjoyable. Lyn did a great job booking hotels along the way, something we needed to do since we needed seven rooms. Depending on the time of year, and size of your group you may or may not need to book in advance. We rented a van, learned that anything above seven passangers does not get insurance covered under the standard visa rules. Hired a guide to be our driver, so no one had to drive. He was great to have, and he did an awesome job.
Do over ... Smaller group, smaller van, and bring someone that speaks Spanish and bring a driver, find someone that wants to see Spain , but wouldn't want to ride the Camino. You do see some awesome parts of Spain! Much smaller group ...no more than six, whos conditioning is not in doubt, and ride each day without a fixed destination, as some days you may want to cover more ground, others less. Maybe Do it over 17 days, allowing you to stay
in some towns if you want. We rode every day, no breaks, and got the ride done as "planned"; departing on the 1st, arrived on the 15th. I am sure a few of us could have done it in a couple less days without much more effort, maybe just a little less beer and wine. Another key, make sure no budget issues, money buys you comfort on the Camino! if you have any budget restraints you can go the cheaper option on accomodations, and of course you can go cheap on food as well.
We had very good accomodations (thansk again lyn) , and ate very well almost every day. I did have Nuun tablets for my water, and cliff energy , and cliff protien bars to eat, oh plus Gu mint chocolate gel as needed.
Bikes ... Glad we went with rentals ... Thank you Bike Iberia, they held up very well. Full suspension is the way to go if you if you are going to ride the walking path, as these were newer Giant Anthems, you have the option to shut off the suspension. The down hills can be extreme, so I know I fully utilized all my suspension and breaking ability. Reflected on bringing my own bike, nope ... I would not want to, the bikes took a beating, and would need a full service when you got them home, unless you at a full DIY'r the cost of the restoration service, the shipping to and from would be greater than what we paid for the rentals (325euro).
While we have fully enjoyed our time in Europe after our ride, I'd suggest just booking a two or three week trip focused purely on doing the Camino. The cost of shipping of riding gear home so that we did not have to lug it around Europe was excessive (two duffle bags,under 30kilos ... 690euro)
Most important ... Just do it ! Doing the Camino was worth it