Oporto – Santiago a Journey Diary

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Index

This journey has been in my mind for quite some time now, but I didn’t had the chance to accomplish it. I’m glad I did, it was an amazing experience, something that I would love to repeat in a near future.

Stage: Oporto – Barcelos

  • Distance: 67.85km
  • Duration: 08:47
  • Climb: 1236
  • Calories: 3224
  • Weather: Sunny with heavy showers
  • Falls: 1
  • Flats: 0

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Monday, 21 of March, I left Oporto around 11 o’clock, after packing everything. I always envision getting everything ready by the time to leave, but in a way or another I end up finishing packing at the last minute.

In the first Kms, I found myself struggling with my backpack, it was too full so, I didn’t had room to move my head around, the top of the backpack was annoying me. After 20k, my first stop, to have a snack and tweak my setup.

Although I was really excited by what I was doing, a question was lying in my mind, am I able to pull this off, I never did nothing like it, on a bike, I wasn’t sure if I could handle it.

JB-160322-CaminoSantiago-4208 JB-160321-CaminoSantiago-4185By the time I got to Rates, I was really, enjoying myself, but it was here that things got difficult. I was following the yellow arrows, but for some part of the course, there were two marks, yellow and blue arrows, both pointing to the same place side by side. Suddenly, the yellow arrows are gone although, the blue ones remained, I wanted to keep moving forward, so I started to follow the blue arrows. At first, I was really enjoying it, then it started to rain, no worries, get the rain jacket, cover the backpack, and I was set, the rain just felt good, it was refreshing. Rainbows, a thunderstorm, and a gnarly course, by the time, the Sun was already gone and I was carrying my bike uphill, on my shoulders and thinking, no way this is the right path. It’s dark, cold, raining, I was exhausted, a lot of questions rumbling over my mind, am I on the right track, should I keep pushing it forward, should I turn back…

At some point, I turned back, and left the offroad path and went to the last village that I had passed by moments ago. There, I turned on my GPS, entered the coordinates of the Albergue in Barcelos, and faced the uphill, this time on paved road. By the time, when I finally started the descent, I was able to recover a bit, and give some rest to my legs, and then I saw it, the Santiago sign, and Iit gave me strength and a sense of relief, I was again on the right path. After, 20 minutes I was at the Albergue, I questioned the person about the choice that I’ve made – a wrong one – from where I was, in Rates, by bike it should have taken me around an hour, I ended up with 20+ Kms, and four  hours more.

I had planned to arrive at Barcelos around 17h30, got there at 22h00. I just need to refuel and have a good night rest. Cooked my dinner, had a shower, washed my clothes and went to bed.

Stage: Barcelos – Rubiães

  • Distance: 50km
  • Duration: 07:52
  • Climb: 1180
  • Calories: 2953
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Falls: 0
  • Flats: 0

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Tuesday, 22 of March, left Barcelos it already passed 10h00, I was the last one to leave. I need to rest, an hour later I was meeting all the fellows pilgrim’s that I met at the Albergue.

A couple with a son and a daughter of 5 years old, I felt amazed by this family, they where all doing it by themselves, without the support of anyone, at the pace of the young one. Like we are taught in the boy scouts, the weaker sets the pace for the rest, and there they were walking the 260km.

This stage is awesome, plenty offroad tracks, beautiful small villages, happy and friendly faces, well marked path, I was feeling great and happy. But it was a tough one, had to carry the bike at my back a few times, but them, I was rewarded with amazing descents, and a beautiful scenery, I was feeling blessed.

By the time I got to the Albergue, it was already 20h00, an american girl, Moly, was kind to show me around. Quite an international stop this one, people from the States, Spain, Italy, Germany, UK, and so many more countries where represented there.

The routine was already familiar, so simple, prepare dinner, take a shower, wash my clothes and wen to bed, next day…

Stage: Rubiães – Redondela

  • Distance: 53,98km
  • Duration: 07:08
  • Climb:  887
  • Calories: 2469
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Falls: 1
  • Flats: 0

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Wednesday, 23 of March, wake up, wash my hair, have a breakfast, pack everything and start paddling, dead simple.

This time, I left around 09h00, I was getting in the rhythm, first stop after a few Kms, in a coffeeshop, to get some fresh coffee and buy a few stuff like bananas and cookies.

Ok, so I went over the bars, yep. I hate helmets, just hate them so, I was only using it in main roads, and on rough terrain. I crossed from a small little village to this track, it was ok in the beginning, but then it turned into really rough really fast, from big roots, to loose rocks and boulders. I was descending, and thinking to myself, I should be using my helmet, and I kept going, and thinking, I should get my helmet on, when I passed over that first rough section I tried to stop and there I went, over the handlebar, smashed my left knee and hip, my backpack as a saver, it absorbed quite a lot, my camera also had a taste of the ground but it holded up. I was alone, it could have been much worst, I noticed that I needed to be extra careful, if something happens to me it can became a nightmare, I backed off a bit and chose my lines accordingly. Some water on the knee to remove some dirt and blood off I went, scared. I didn’t wanted to think too much about it. I will have time to take care, of the hounds, properly when I get to the Albergue by the end of the day.

First big city, Valença, I was a bit scared, loads of traffic, so I got off the bike and followed the signs, it was easier, and safer, this way.

Small and quiet villages, off road tracks it’s my thing, even though, I wasn’t that much time away from the big city. I had left Oporto 2 days ago, but it felt like I have been away far more time then it really was, suddenly faced with loud noise, cars, loads of people running around, I felt out of place.

Bikers – bicigrinos – the first ones that I came across with, was a couple from Italy, great company until Ponte de Lima, where we split,  they stayed and I continued my journey.

Porriño, Industrial zone, ugly, ugly, there are alternatives so you can avoid it but, my goal was to do the traditional way so, I went through it.

Just a quick stop at Lidl, to get some fresh fruit, and to get some rest. The Sun was really hot, and it was killing me, I needed to rehydrate and have some food on my belly.

Tired and planning to stay in the next Albergue, I changed my mind since a fellow portuguese pilgrim told me that the Albergue in Redondela was a really nice one, the best of them all, she told me, so I went for another 10k.

The Albergue, was quiet nice alright, but I had to find an hostel since it was already full, what a bummer.

It was a day of contrasts, beautiful tracks, nice villages and big noisy cities.

Stage: Redondela – Santiago de Compostela

  • Distance: 86,25km
  • Duration: 09:39
  • Climb: 1758
  • Calories: 3545
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Falls: 0
  • Flats: 0

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Thursday, 24 of  March, started at 07h30. With the already dialled, simple, routine. Wake up, have a breakfast, pack everything and start pedalling.

Here I met a trio of Spanish guys, they where MTB XC athletes, but there objective was to accomplish the way running, they told me that it was possible to get from Redondela to Santiago in a day, biking. It left me thinking, if I could do it.

First stop, Cunha coffeeshop, to get my daily dose of caffeine and pick some fresh bread.

What a day, the Way led me through some old city parts, easy but enjoy full tracks, with some main road sections. By noon, I made my first stop to refuel my body, followed the same strategy from other days, fill in my pockets with plenty food, like bananas, cookies, dried fruits and bread with Nutella and cheese. This way I didn’t had the need to stop, unless I needed to refill my camel bag.

By the time, I had already done, around, 50K, I started to believe that it was possible to get to Santiago in that day.

Along the way I met some more bicigrinos, a middle age couple from Colombia, they came just to do the Santiago Way, they where fit, I saw myself pushing my bike uphill a few times, but not them. Then another couple, from Galicia, Spain and was this way that we all arrived at Santiago later that day, In company of lovely people.

Although, we where there with the same goal, to get to Santiago, by our own means, be it by bike of foot, we all had different reasons, some faced it as a sport, other for spiritual reasons and some for religious reasons.

For me, I think it was the three, although I couldn’t stop from seeing it from the point of view of a sport, it was spiritual, definitely, religious, also. I kind of had a really bad time last year, being 6 months away from my daily life, because of healthy issues, although I didn’t made a promise, I told to myself that I would do Way, I had my times, when I said my prays, every day, it just made sense, mainly in the rougher times of the journey but also when I felt blessed, witnessing the beautiful sunsets, sunrises, the amazing scenery.

And so I did it 🙂 . pedalling for 4 days by myself, an average of 8 hours a day, you have plenty of time, to contemplate what you are experiencing and think about your life and be thankful.

Although, I went from Portugal to Spain, it all felt like one big country, where you meet people with different ways of expressing themselves, that’s the way I see it, it may seem a romantic view of the world, but I wish we all saw it that way.

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Conclusion

Overall Stats:

  • 0 flats
  • 1 fall
  • 4 days
  • 12191 calories burned
  • 260km

Things to consider:

  • Take every meal from home, there are markets along the way, so it would have been wiser to get the goods on the way, instead of having to carry so much stuff from the beginning.
  • Heavy backpack, although it isn’t the best option to carry stuff on a bike, it was a plus to have it in my back when I went over the bars. It was quite convenient when I got to the Albergues, instead of unstrapping a zillion of small packs, just had to take my sleeping and my backpack.
  • Guidebook, is a must to have, full of useful information, all the stages are well described. I would say, it’s probably the only thing you need regarding navigation.

Other options to consider regarding bike luggage:

I’m looking forward for my next bike trip, just loved the experience.

When I got back I went to look if existed anything like the Colorado Trail Race in Portugal, as far as I know we don’t, just a couple o XC marathons and a TransPortugal. It’s a 1000km race, but you got to stay in nice hotels, probably you won’t be carrying your gear, a fancy team would take care of it for you and the application it’s quite expensive. I will give a marathon a try and I will plan my own trips.

 

Gear junk

Bike

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Bike Spares

  • Rear derailleur hanger
  • Chain lube
  • KMC chain quick link
  • Tubes
  • Small pump
  • Duct tape
  • Zip-ties
  • Flat patches
  • Brake inner cable
  • Gear inner cable
  • Multitool
  • Locker
  • Lights
  • Adjustable spanner

Bike luggage

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Backpack – Lowe Alpine Attack 45:55

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Riding

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Navigation

Electronics

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Nutrition

  • Breakfast
    • Coffee
    • Greek yogurt with Granola
    • Banana
    • Bread with Nutella
    • Gold Nutrition Total Whey Protein
  • During the day
    • Dried fruit
    • Bananas
    • Bread with Nutella and cheese
    • Cookies
    • Isostar to stay hydrated
  • End of the Ride
    • Gold Nutrition Total Whey Protein
    • Snack
  • Dinner
    • Vegetables Soup
    • Noodles with Tunna
    • Bread

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