The Camino Primitivo by bike : A challenge within reach of only a few
Doing the Camino Primitivo to Santiago by bike is possible, but you would face a great challenge. The Camino Primitivo bike path hides many wonders, but to access them requires a certain sacrifice.
As its name suggests, the Camino Primitivo is the first route that the pilgrims followed to Compostela and therefore, the most complicated. If you want to know more about the origin of this itinerary we recommend that you read our article on the origins of the Caminos to Santiago.
The itinerary on the Camino Primitivo
The Primitive road begins in Oviedo and from there it is directed, crossing the Western mountain range of Asturias, to Galicia. It finally joins the Camino Frances in Melide.
However, many pilgrims travel this path, following the route of the Camino del Norte, bordering the Cantabrian coast. On this route, when arriving in Villaviciosa, pilgrims have the option to go to Gijón or to divert onto the Camino Primitivo, towards Oviedo.
The Camino de Santiago by bicycle is a route of impressive beauty but also is extremely tough. Although the “Bikegrims” can travel up to 100 kilometres per day, the Camino Primitivo, given its hard ascents and descents, demands shorter stages.
If you want to do the Camino de Santiago by bike alone, as a couple, with family or with friends, you are in the right place! We are the leading agency in organizing bike travel tailored to each bikegrim. So tell us more about your travel plan and leave it in our hands.
Of course, the distance is based on the physical capacities of each pilgrim and the desire to have time to enjoy the tour. In Santiago Ways, considering the difficulty of the route and because we always say that the authentic wonder of the pilgrim’s route is on the Camino, we advise to plan for stages of 50 or 60 kilometres.
Based on the previous information, it could be said that the 316 kilometres on the official layout could be divided into 6 stages. Of course, you should consider that if you do the Camino Primitivo by bicycle you will have to pedal some extra kilometres in search of alternatives suitable for your transport.
Some sections of the Camino Primitivo are almost impracticable by bicycle, so on many occasions, you will have to leave the official route and divert to the main road to complete the stage. At the end of this article, we explain each of the stages on the Camino Primitivo bike path and the difficulties you will encounter, as well as the possible variants you can take to avoid them.
Who can complete the Camino Primitivo by bicycle?
As discussed in the title of this post, the Camino Primitivo by bike is not a suitable experience for everyone. To complete this itinerary of the Camino de Santiago by bike, it is necessary to have a certain skill and with enough experience.
We are not going to deceive you, it is not the most suitable Camino de Santiago to do on a bicycle. Other routes such as the Camino Frances or the two Caminos that run through Portugal are much more advisable for bikegrims.
Cyclists with a good background
On the Camino Primitivo, you will find hard slopes. In addition, the official section of this route is the one that has a lesser number of kilometres of asphalt, which, undoubtedly, is a pleasure for the pilgrims who walk it on foot, but that becomes an added difficulty for bikegrims.
To this, we must add that the climatology on the Camino Primitivo also does not help the pilgrims who go by bike. Of all routes, this is the one where it is most likely to rain. If you are going to do the Camino Primitivo, whether on foot or by bike, we recommend that you read our post about what to do if it rains on the Camino de Santiago.
In fact, in winter, the Camino Primitivo is almost impracticable. The high amount of rainfall recorded in that region, together with the altitude through which the route runs, make it an inadvisable route during the winter. However, you will always find the brave who risk facing this adverse weather.
In conclusion, it is a route for which you have to be very well prepared. To plan the challenge of doing the Camino de Santiago by bike, you have to have the experience necessary to cope with the difficulties that this route implies or train well for it. For experienced cyclists, especially those who are accustomed to mountain bikes, the Camino Primitivo to Santiago can be an interesting challenge.
The stages by bike on the Camino de Santiago Primitivo
As promised at the beginning of the article, in this section of the post, we want to tell you how each of the 6 stages are, and on which Santiago Ways advises you how to divide the Camino Primitivo. In each of them, we talk about the complicated sections you will find and the possible alternatives.
First stage: from Oviedo to Salas
For the first stage on the Camino Primitivo by bike, we advise completing two classic stages that pilgrims perform on foot. The one that goes from Oviedo to Grado and from Grado to Salas.
In total 49 kilometres of travel that you can complete following the official route. There are no extra kilometres today!
First section: from Oviedo to Grado
On the first section of the Camino Primitivo, you will not find many difficulties to complete it by bike. The point at which you should take more care is in the descent that is made on a concrete slope, full of holes, between Villamar and Llampaxuga.
Soon after, you will find a steep climb, the ascent to the Alto del Escamplero pass. Take it easy because the day has just begun and your joints are still cold!
Second section: from Grado to Salas
On the second section of the first stage of the Camino Primitivo, the bikers will once again have to face another important challenge: the ascent to the Alto de Fresno pass. After this, a considerable descent, with a drop of 200 metres, you reach the Narcea Valley.
If it has rained, it is very important to be cautious when going down to the valley, as it is easy to drift through the mud that accumulates in it. In that case, access to Quintana can also be difficult, when at the end of the stage.
Second stage: from Salas to Pola de Allende
On the second stage of the Camino Primitivo by bicycle we would advise you to complete the 48.4 kilometres that the official route marks. Although for bikers the stage will be much more complicated.
Those pilgrims who go by bicycle will not be able to follow the official route and will have to deviate along the road or take the alternative path designed exclusively for bicycles. The most recommended option is to follow the road route, in which case the distance increases to 61 kilometres.
Those who want to follow the marked mountain path for bicycles will have a particularly hard day. The altitude through which this stage of the Camino Primitivo passes, as well as the bad ground conditions, will not make things easy for bikegrims, especially those who carry their saddlebags.
The fact that the Camino Primitivo goes into the mountains, thus increasing the altitude of the route, does not make things easy for pilgrims who go by bike. Those who want to follow the marked bike layout will suffer quite a lot because the road conditions are not very good. Especially those carrying their saddlebags.
We take advantage of this added difficulty, to remind you that completing the Camino Primitivo with a baggage transfer service is an option if you want to ride your bike in comfort. You can read more about this service in our article on doing the Camino de Santiago without a backpack.
The section from Salas to Tineo by road
To follow the road on this stage, you must join the N-634 road towards La Espina. On this road you won’t find much traffic, so you’ll find it quite comfortable to pedal.
Then you’ll have to take the AS-216 road. This does have a lot more traffic, so you should take extreme precautions when riding.
From Tineo to Pola de Allende
After Tineo, you will have to detour to take the AS-350 road. Along this road, you will pass next to the Monastery of Obona, a good excuse to take a break.
The tour continues along the almost deserted AS-209 road. A comfortable track to complete the climb to the Alto de Lavadoira pass, located at the end of the stage, just before Pola de Allende.
Third stage: from Pola de Allende to Fonsagrada
The third stage of the Camino Primitivo implies a greater distance than the previous ones. A total of 65.7 kilometres means going from Pola de Allende to Fonsagrada following the official route.
However, at this stage, cyclists will again have to divert on some sections towards the road. For them, the route is around 73 kilometres.
This stage runs in the middle of the Asturian mountains, so it poses even more difficulties. To the challenge of the terrain and its layout, we should add that the infrastructure is also at a low level. Therefore, it is best to follow the road for almost most of the entire route.
The dreaded ascent to the Puerto del Palo pass
On the first section, which runs between Pola de Allende and Berbucedo, you will face the dreaded ascent to the Puerto del Palo pass. The most feared climb on the Camino Primitivo and which worries both pilgrims who go on foot and by bike.
The bikers make the climb following the path of the AS-14 road. This saves them from the steep slope, which is distributed over 10 km. However, the ascent is hard because you will be pedalling at a height of almost 1,200 metres.
The reward to Salime
After the effort, as always, comes the reward. The bikers will enjoy on the second section of the day a long descent that will allow them to recover strength and enjoy magnificent views of the Salime Reservoir.
However, after the pleasure of the descent, a new climb awaits you. This time to the Alto do Acevo pass. A steep 800-metre ascent concludes in Grandas de Salime.
Entering Galicia by bike
Luckily, on the last leg of the day, it’s possible to complete it on the original route. In Fonsagrada, the Camino Primitivo enters Galicia.
This stretch does not involve any great difficulty. The steep slopes continue and you cross some steep descents like that of Gestoselo, but nothing that you can not complete if you have completed the previous two sections of the stage.
From Fonsagrada to Lugo (stage 4 on bicycle)
This stage can be done by bike following the official route of the Camino Primitivo. A total of 53.9 kilometres separate Fonsagrada from Lugo.
Section from Fonsagrada to Cadavo Baleira
In this section, you face a steep descent from Hospital de Montuno. Then the path continues to face the ascent to the Alto de Fontaneira pass. If you are very tired, you can do this part of the road tour by diverting in Paradavella.
Arrival in Lugo
El The second section of the day is much easier. The terrain is easier and the road surface on the original route is in much better condition than on previous stages. In fact, in relation to previous days, this stretch of the Camino Primitivo by bicycle could be said to be almost flat.
The fifth stage: from Lugo to Melide
There are some bikegrims, who, from Lugo, head directly to Santiago de Compostela, thus completing just over 100 kilometres. We recommend splitting the section into two parts.
Melide is a classic stopping point and in it, the Camino Primitivo joins the Camino Frances, therefore it is a good stop, to adapt to the change of pace that involves joining the Camino Frances. Another option is to divide the tour by staying overnight in Arzúa.
From Lugo to Ferreira
This section is very comfortable because the official route itself runs mostly along asphalt tracks. It also has little unevenness.
From Ferreira to Melide
The last stage of the Camino Frances by bike
Once the Camino Primitivo joins the Camino Frances in Melide everything becomes easier. On this last stage, you will find many more services and also many more bikegrims.
From Melide to Arzúa by bike
This section is moderately difficult if completed by bicycle. However, if you come from the Camino Primitivo, it will be quite simple.
You’ll find constant ups and downs but moderate in relation to those you’ve encountered on other stages. You can complete the route along the official route, but if you prefer to avoid the bad road conditions on this stretch, you can go to the road and follow the route of the LU-664 road.
Pedalling to O Pedrouzo
This section does not imply any difficulty. The surface is in good condition and you will be able to follow the official path, without any problem.
Arrival at the Apostle’s tomb
For all pilgrims to reach the Plaza del Obradoiro is a real reward. For those who have followed the Camino Primitivo, it is even more so, given the great challenge of doing it by bicycle.
On this last stretch, you will not find any difficulty, only intense emotions and wonderful rewards. Be sure to read our article on what to do in Santiago de Compostela and what to visit in the Cathedral of Santiago so that you can enjoy some well-deserved rest days in the capital of Compostela.
Now you know all the challenges you will have to face if you dare to do the Camino Primitivo to Santiago by bike. As you can see, it is not an easy route and therefore it is up to you to judge whether you will be able to complete it or it is better to do another of the routes on the Camino de Santiago by bike.
Be that as it may, whether you decide to do the Camino Primitivo by bike or on foot; or even if you decide to do any other itinerary on the Camino de Santiago, we would like to remind you that you can count on us. In Santiago Ways, we are an agency specialized in the Camino and we can help you organize your pilgrimage both on foot and by bike. Call us!