Cycling is popular in Spain, cycling with panniers not so much… yet. Still, the movement is starting and there are some very well developed routes with some infrastructure that will allow you to explore the country. Here is some information about them:
Way of Saint Jacques // Camino de Santiago
Under the generic name of “Camino de Santiago” you can find several routes that will lead your way from the border of Spain and France to the mytical city of Saint Jacques of Compostel, where, according to the legend, the Apostol Saint Jacques the Young is buried. Truth be told, this very popular cycle and walking path is no longer used exclusively by pilgrims but also, and maybe more often, by sport addicts and tourists wishing to see the country under a different light. If you choose this path you will be entitled to a great experience full of encounters, culture, beautiful landscapes and of course, some serious workouts. Not to worry, the road is apt for anybody with a minimum trainning and skill. Under the name of “Camino de Santiago” you can find several different routes:
1. Camino francés
2. Camino de Santiago del Norte
3. Camino del Sur, Vía de la Plata
Across the Pyrenees // Transpirenaica
If your thing is to emulate the cycling heros of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, you may consider this route. 500kms from coast to coast, climbing some 20 high mountain pass on the process. There is a MTB version and a roadbike version, both spectacular and worthy. The MTB one though, is advised only for experienced, tought riders. This route is not marked although there are some quite good guides and in summer is easy to find other cyclist doing it.
Trasándalus is an ongoing project that will allow you to do a tour around Andalusia only on dirt roads and paths. For the moment the only way to do it properly is using a GPS, since the road is not marked. If you have time and experience it’s really a very nice route although beware that you will need a MTB and that some parts are marked as hard, which means you will probably have to carry your bike on your shoulder every once in a while.
Cid’s way // Camino del Cid
XI century and Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (also known as Cid) has to make his way from the city of Burgos, in the middle of the Central Plateau, to the coastal Valencia, where he will fight and eventually win a battle against the Muslims, back them the roulers of the Peninsula. This historical tale is the evocative plot that now gives way to a 600kms cycling route that crosses the country from NW to SE. Following small roads and sometimes old raiwailway lines, if you choose this path you will find yourself inmerse in one of the least known, more traditional parts of the country. Castilla is a land where winters are rough and summers hot and short, people quite and landscapes sober.
Green ways // Vías verdes
Old railways no longer in use have been stripped of their equipment and transformed into cyclepaths. Sounds good, hum? It IS good, and moreover, sometimes quite convenient. The downside of this project is that many of this cycle paths are not connected so eventually you will have to combine them up with small roads to do a long-distance itinerary.