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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

Old 01-02-15, 07:32 PM
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Subbahoe
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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

Hi. Just signed up for this forum because of the huge amount of knowledge among its users. Therefor I would love to hear few tips for my next extempore bicycle-trip starting from Madrid at 5.1.2015 and ending to Malaga at 13.1.2015. I'm planning to use only stealth tent accommodation, and ride of the main roads. I do know the basics of wild camping, (done it few times) but never in Spain. I assume that it's not a severe crime if you get caught. (Unlike in USA ) Are there any grocery stores (or any stores) in rural areas of Spain, or only in citys? Mainly because of the water issue... Lots of free space in bags for food and a Trangia to cook with, but water is kinda heavy. Which brings in mind, where can I get fuel for my Trangia cooker, and what is it called? I had difficulties in Canada cause they only had gel form fuel, and not the liquid one. Alcohol de quemar or Alcohol metílico says trangias website. All posts are most likely usefull for me, or to someone planning for a similar trip, so please post anything that comes in mind. Also you can join me if you wish

-Olli, from Finland

Last edited by Subbahoe; 01-02-15 at 07:36 PM. Reason: It's 2015 already :D
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Old 01-02-15, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Subbahoe View Post
Hi. Just signed up for this forum because of the huge amount of knowledge among its users. Therefor I would love to hear few tips for my next extempore bicycle-trip starting from Madrid at 5.1.2015 and ending to Malaga at 13.1.2015. I'm planning to use only stealth tent accommodation, and ride of the main roads. I do know the basics of wild camping, (done it few times) but never in Spain. I assume that it's not a severe crime if you get caught. (Unlike in USA ) Are there any grocery stores (or any stores) in rural areas of Spain, or only in citys? Mainly because of the water issue... Lots of free space in bags for food and a Trangia to cook with, but water is kinda heavy. Which brings in mind, where can I get fuel for my Trangia cooker, and what is it called? I had difficulties in Canada cause they only had gel form fuel, and not the liquid one. Alcohol de quemar or Alcohol metílico says trangias website. All posts are most likely usefull for me, or to someone planning for a similar trip, so please post anything that comes in mind. Also you can join me if you wish

-Olli, from Finland
Roads- The main roads in Spain are generally horrible for cyclists, especially around Madrid. Too much traffic, although the people are conscienscious of bikes. Look for small, side roads. In fact, if you wanted to you could follow the rural dirt roads/livestock roads you could probably get just about anywhere.

Stealth camping- Nothing is a serious crime in Spain In general, you will have a pretty easy time finding camping. Just be sure to get off the dirt roads because often time the farmers come screaming through in their trucks without warning, and teenagers too of course. You may have to be careful about being caught though, because they are really really protective of the hunting grounds (cotos/campos de caza). I have been out in what I thought were empty fields that no one could see me and have had the police come out to make sure I wasn't poaching. I doubt they would do anything, but don't be less careful in Spain than you would be otherwhere.

Stores/Shopping- Spain is a very traditionally organized place, that means very centralized little pueblos (villages) spaced out in what is otherwise farmland. That said, I have never been anywhere in Spain that was more than about 15 minutes from a pueblo (all have at least one or two bars), a bar, or a gas station. Many gas stations have a bar. The bars there always have food. All have bottled water always. If it's about food you can ask at most places for food to go if you would like. "Un ración de X para llevar por favor" (A portion of X to go please). The operational part of the phrase being "para llevar." [Par-a Ye-var] "To go."


Fuel: International Fuel Names Finding special fuel in anywhere but the biggest cities will be a problem. Get a stove that runs on normal alcohol or can run on normal gas.

Feel free to shoot me a PM with any other questions.

Last edited by fantom1; 01-04-15 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 01-03-15, 12:11 AM
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This page has 36 links to information about bike touring in Spain.

Not all of them will be of interest to you but it might be a good place to start in your planning process.
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Old 01-03-15, 07:48 AM
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Get the Michelin map for Andalucia. It shows every little road. Spent 7 weeks touring that region back in '00. Listen to what Fantom1 says, and the main east-west coastal road through Malaga is not a pleasant ride. The true beauty of that region is in the interior.
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Old 01-03-15, 08:05 AM
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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

The tap water in Spain is potable, even the fountains in village squares. BUT your system may have to get adjusted to the local water bacteria flora which can be an unpleasant experience... so yeah, on a short tour maybe better to buy bottled or take a water filter like the Sawyer mini.

No problem finding food shops. Best places to stock up are the big supermarkets on the edge of towns.

Oh, the tap water in Barcelona tastes like **** as it is so chlorinated. DO NOT make coffee with it! Dunno about Madrid. And yeah, inland Andalucia is magical and easy to find somewhere to sleep. No mosquitoes this time of year. Why not just sleep under the stars in a warm sleeping bag? Nights can be pretty cold now.

Have a great tour!

Last edited by imi; 01-03-15 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 01-03-15, 08:14 AM
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I don't see the sense of stealth camping in a foreign country. Why go to a foreign country and hide in the bush? Campgrounds, hostels, inns and B&Bs are places to meet people. As far as travelling is concerned,meeting people, locals or fellow travellers, is one of the best parts of the whole experience.
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Old 01-03-15, 08:17 AM
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One minor annoyance I had while touring in northern Spain was the hours that bakeries were open. They typically opened later in the morning than elsewhere in Europe. I usually had to buy bread in the evening if I wanted bread for breakfast before I began to ride the next morning.

All of my touring in Spain was north of Madrid, so I can't help you for riding to Malaga.
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Old 01-03-15, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
I don't see the sense of stealth camping in a foreign country. Why go to a foreign country and hide in the bush? Campgrounds, hostels, inns and B&Bs are places to meet people. As far as travelling is concerned,meeting people, locals or fellow travellers, is one of the best parts of the whole experience.
I love the peace and solitude of sleeping under the stars in the middle of no-where.

Campsites can often be full of noisy people and brightly lit at night.
The only reason I go to organised campsites is for the hot showers.

I'm not so interested in meeting new people everyday, but understand that many are. Miles vary.

Oh, and sleeping on beaches with just the sound of the waves is pure magic to me.

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Old 01-03-15, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
I love the peace and solitude of sleeping under the stars in the middle of no-where.

Oh, and sleeping on beaches with just the sound of the waves is pure magic to me.
Yes, but these things I can find at home. I lived in the American West and know the solitude of the wilderness. but when I go to Europe, I'm looking for something else.

I remember hiking and camping on the last real wilderness beach in the lower 48, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Sadly they've ruined it with a road.
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Old 01-03-15, 12:29 PM
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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

I was in spain this november and bought a bottle of alcohol de quimar in a big supermarket. It was hard to light, and didn't burn hot. The worst alcohol I've ever encountered. It was blue.

I'll be back there in a couple of weeks and will try to buy denatured alcohol in hardware stores, so I don't happen to buy that crap again...
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Old 01-03-15, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
The tap water in Spain is potable, even the fountains in village squares.
This is not true, please don't believe it. You might not die from drinking it, but that doesn't make it potable. It depends on where you go. If you see other people drinking there, you probably are ok, but you will also probably have some stomach issues.

Also, I forgot to mention: be aware that pretty much everywhere except for gas stations, bars and restaurants (including grocery stores) will be closed between 2pm-4:30pm.
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Old 01-03-15, 02:50 PM
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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

From Lonely Planet:

Water
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Spain. If you are in any doubt, ask ¿Es potable el agua (de grifo) ? (Is the (tap) water drinkable?). Do not drink water from rivers or lakes as it may contain bacteria or viruses that can cause diarrhoea or vomiting.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/practical-information/health
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Old 01-03-15, 02:57 PM
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Old 01-03-15, 03:03 PM
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Tips for a short bicycle tour in Spain

^^^ beautiful, but in january it can get pretty cold in northern spain
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Old 01-03-15, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
From Lonely Planet:

Water
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Spain. If you are in any doubt, ask ¿Es potable el agua (de grifo) ? (Is the (tap) water drinkable?). Do not drink water from rivers or lakes as it may contain bacteria or viruses that can cause diarrhoea or vomiting.

Practical travel information on Health in Spain - Lonely Planet Travel Information
From the guy who lives and has lived throughout most of Spain (me)- You said even in fountains, which is terrible advice. Don't assume the tap water and especially local fountains, etc. is potable. 90% of the Spaniards I know use bottled water because you can't rely on the tap water, especially outside of the big cities, which is where he is likely to be.

Last edited by fantom1; 01-03-15 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 01-03-15, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
^^^ beautiful, but in january it can get pretty cold in northern spain
Sorry, but again, this is wrong. If you take the coastal route it is actually one of the warmest places in Spain during that time. This is because of the ocean and relatively warm, wet air that comes off of it. At any rate, it is no colder than anywhere else in Spain.

It is definitely super rainy, but it is also definitely much warmer than Madrid and all of central Spain until you get a few miles from the Mediterrean/Atlantic.
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Old 01-04-15, 01:13 AM
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