Cycling the Camino de Santiago

There are many pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the goal being the famous Cathedral.

About 10% arrive by bicycle.

Two of the most popular cycling routes are:

  • Porto, Portugal to Santiago
  • León, Spain to Santiago

I’d first tried to start in Porto — but couldn’t find a bike to rent on short notice.

In Santiago itself I found Cycling the Camino, a shop that pretty much NEVER runs out of rentals.

I took the train to León, picking up the rental there. They will deliver almost anywhere you want to start — charging additional shipping to mainland Spain (30€/bike), Portugal (37€/bike) and France (65€/bike).

The cost of the bike itself is around 30€/day.

Inexpensive, in my opinion. And WAY easier than flying your own bike.

I booked 7 days to make the 300+km return which I assumed would be EASY. I did make it in 6 days, finding the adventure more challenging than expected. I was on the bike about 6-7 hours each day.

My short video includes a LOT of drone footage as that’s the easiest way to show the landscape.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Compared with most long distance cycling routes, this one is very civilized. Regular folks have been walking it for over 1000 years. The infrastructure very well developed.

It’s very social with both walkers and cyclists meeting up each evening.

Folks of all ages and fitness levels are pilgrims on The Way.

Though no book, map or app is needed, I did carry a paper copy of the newest Cicerone guidebook.

Visiting León, Spain

I took the train to León where I’d be starting a week long cycling trip to Santiago de Compostela on the French Camino. A pilgrimage people have been doing for over 1000 years.

It’s very walkable, a small city with most of the attractions close together.

León’s Cathedral is one of the finest in Europe.

Panorama of Plaza de Regla and Leon Cathedral, Castile and Leon, Spain
Me and the cops.

My official start is this Cathedral. I’ll finish at the Cathedral in Santiago.

León is a great tourist town. I did a lot of cycling there testing the rental bike.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

My Dental Vacation in Portugal

UPDATE.

I can smile again.

After 9 months with a missing upper tooth, I finally got the implant installed June 2022.

Can you tell which upper tooth was replaced?

I never want to get another implant. WAY too expensive. WAY too time consuming.

But I believe they did an excellent job. This tooth should see me out. 😀


I got implant dental surgery November 11th at 11am. #NotChicken

I’ll update this post with details on how it went.

Canadian dentists are WAY too expen$ive.

Nations around the world that cater to “dental tourists” include:

Not Portugal. BUT I wanted to travel to Portugal for hiking and cycling in November. Also, it’s one of the most vaccinated large nations in the world during a pandemic.

Of dentists in Lisbon I looked at online, most impressive was the Institute of Implantology.

Here’s their Dental Tourism page.

I booked a FREE assessment appointment on my birthday:

  • November 2 ~ free assessment
  • November 4 ~ cleaning and measurement for ‘flipper‘ (temporary replacement tooth)
  • November 11 ~ implant surgery and placement of the flipper
  • November 15 ~ final checkout

The last 4 days in Lisbon were in case of complications. And that allows time to adjust the flipper, if needed.

Happily I had no infection nor swelling. And the flipper looks pretty good. Can you tell which top front tooth is now removable?

In fact, I’m as good looking as ever. … Ladies? 😀

I’ll return to Lisbon in 4-6 months to have the permanent fake screwed in.

The Institute of Implantology is not cheap. Price everything included for me will be about CAD $5000 (US$4000, EUR3490). Here are some of the major costs:

  • €160 CT Scan
  • € 160 Extraction
  • € 890 Implant placement
  • € 650 Bone Graft
  • € 280 Flipper
  • € 695 Instillation of implant

The bone graft encourages regeneration of bone and increases the odds that the tooth will stay in my skull for life.


The Institute of Implantology is the second private hospital I’ve used. The other was Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Toronto. Both are excellent. I wish I was rich enough to use more private clinics.

My surgeon was Dr. Gonçalo Caramês. Trained in Los Angeles, he married another dentist. They planned to set up practice in Seattle but he opted instead to return to Portugal because of the pandemic.

The facility itself is impressive. Chic. Very modern technology.

Visiting Valencia, Spain

I’d never been to Spain’s 3rd largest city, so jumped on the chance to catch a cheap flight down to the sunny Mediterranean coast.

The historic centre is great.

But the highlight for me was walking and cycle the huge green space that runs through the city.

It was once the river Turia, drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed turned into a picturesque sunken park.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I did make it out to the beach.

But best was exploring the City of Arts and Sciences.

Click PLAY or watch highlights on YouTube.

A TOURIST in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

I’d always planned to get to the Holy City on foot or by bike.

It’s one of the 3 Christian pilgrimage cities: Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela.

Pilgrims have been walking here for over a thousand years to pay tribute to the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The Old Town is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I’d originally planned to cycle from Porto, Portugal to Santiago. BUT there were no rental bikes available out of Porto. So I arrived (eventually) by bus.

YES I felt like a pretender. Tens of thousands of other visitors look legit — like this guy.

I stayed 3 nights in a magnificent building, Hostel Seminario Menor, one of the most important stops on the Camino.

I got some work done in my monks / College student private room. (19 Euros). And did a LOT of walking around the city.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

A huge surprise to me was to see a massive ultramodern complex called City of Culture.

It’s impressive. But generally seems to be considered a white elephant, not attracting the numbers of visitors anticipated.

See more architect drawings and photos.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Tour Divide 2022 POSTPONED 🤨

I was hoping to cycle out of Banff in June 2022. START on the Tour Divide with the pros.

Ride to Montana. Do some hiking.

Then cycle to visit friends in Idaho.

But getting my NEW TOOTH installed in Lisbon, Portugal took longer than anticipated. I’ll be adventuring in Europe May / June 2022 instead of riding Montana.

HOPEFULLY I’ll be there for Tour Divide 2023.

Click to see a larger version of the Tour Divide map by Aussie Alex Hotchin.

Click for larger version

Portable Wind Turbine on the Trail

I sometimes hike and often bikepack with the 1.66 pound Big Blue Solar Charger.

It’s enough power for me on the trail, except on particularly overcast days.

I’d be tempted to carry a 3 pound portable wind turbine instead, on some adventures.

Though heavier and more expensive, wind power would be faster and more reliable than solar.

DETAILS.

Click PLAY or see how it works on YouTube.

Watch an unboxing and first set-up on YouTube.

Planning to cycle part of the Continental Divide

I was inspired by Lael Wilcox to pencil in a date on my personal calendar:

Friday, June 10th, 2022 at 8AM – Banff, Alberta 

That’s the start of the 2022 Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race.

UPDATE.  I had to cancel this adventure for 2022.  Hopefully I can reschedule it for 2023.

It’s free. No registration. No commitment in advance. I could show up … or not.

I’d dreamed of lining up with Lael and watching her for about 45 seconds as she pedalled out of sight.  😀  Sadly Lael is not racing 2022.  She’s in Europe this summer, instead. 

The Tour Divide roughly follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world.

The route crisscrosses the Continental Divide from north to south starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and finishing at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

I don’t have time, bike or talent to do the whole thing. But I’m hoping to ride the start down into Montana. Then divert over to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where I broke down on my 2019 Great American Rail-Trail  bikepacking adventure.  Dave Adlard had to rescue me.  😀

MIGHT do some hiking in Montana. Then head for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

UPDATE:  In 2019 an alternative further west was announced:

Western Wildlands Route (formerly Wild West)

This adventure is the flagship achievement of Bikepacking Roots, a not-for-profit advocacy group founded by Kurt Refsnider and Kaitlyn Boyle in 2017. 

It’s less technical and easier for touring bikes than the Divide — so I may divert on to the Western Wildlands starting at Eureka, Montana.  I’ll see how I’m feeling at the time. 😀 

Blue line to the west is the Western Wildlands Route

Likely I’ll end up making a loop of the two routes, returning to Calgary via Eureka.

For navigation I’ll likely be using the paid FarOut app (formerly Guthook) as it’s the most popular for both Divide and Wild West.  But I hope to have backup maps, as well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Here’s the Lael Wilcox documentary that got me started planning this trip.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – Lael Wilcox Is the Best. Why Does Anyone Else Bother?

(via Adventure Blog)

Beetle Kills and Forest Fires 😕

Mountain Pine Beetles are native to the forests of western North America from Mexico to central British Columbia.  …

As of May 2013, the Pine Beetle is aggressively devastating forests in all 19 US-American western states and Canada …

These insects are thriving as average temperatures increase. Dead and dying trees make good fuel for fires.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Cycle Touring Norway

The #1 expert is MatthewNorway on YouTube.

Matthew just launched a website for folks — like me — who want to information on how to ride in one of the most expensive nations:

Cycle Norway

I’d already hired Matthew to plan a 3000km route for me starting July 2022.

I’ll be using his new website, as well.

Click PLAY or watch an introduction on YouTube.