Unicycling in Spain

Does anyone have any experience unicycling through Spain?
I want to go and see some of the sights from the novel Don Quixote and sometime this winter or next spring I am planning a trip from San Clemente to Toledo.
I have checked routes on google maps and it looks like a slow downhill most of the way.
I have also read some different blogs and asked in a few touring forums on facebook and everyone seems to say that Spain is a dangerous place for touring because of the crazy traffic and the heat. They all seem to have ridden the coast during the summer months and I am going to be inland off-season.
Still the idea of dodging traffic the whole way is not my ideal holiday. Also people say the road just disappears at points.
So I would love any advice or feedback from anyone who has experience riding in this part of the world.

Windmills, watch out! :smiley:

We drove across Spain last summer: Barcelona - Valencia - Madrid - Bilbao - San Sebastian - Pomplona - Barcelona. I found the driving “culture” to be pretty normal, but I was in a car, not riding on the side of the road so that’s not very useful. Temps are known to get pretty hot in the inland areas. We’re from Sacramento, so we were never even a little impressed by the temps anywhere during the lead-up to Unicon, for what it’s worth.

Hopefully some Spanish unicyclists will chime in, but those may be pretty rare in terms of cross-country riding, so I’d follow the advice of bicyclists you can read about.

Enjoy your ride!

I don’t have any experience in Spain either, Vee, but I love the idea. I just Googled a little bit since I’m also a fan of the book, and retracing “La Ruta de Don Quijote” seems to be something of a regular industry in Spain.

Have you seen this page?:

Judging by a translation, there seems to be some specific information that other (bicycle) riders have followed with success. I would also want to visit Sierra Morena because of the stories of Dorothea and Cardenio.

Good luck with your trip!

Googlemaps will recommend bike routes just about anywhere, but as a general rule, from the year I spent living in Alicante, my recollection is that Spain’s roads are not bike-friendly, and I never met anyone in Spain who used a bike (let alone a uni) for transportation.

Every year, a lot of people in Spain walk a long-distance footpath called the Camino de Santiago. Most of it would probably be very nice for riding, and it goes through the north of Spain, where the weather is usually not that hot, even in summer. The Camino de Santiago is traditionally for Catholic penitents, and some people used to walk it on their knees, but my Spanish friends who went on it were all atheists, and told me that today it is a journey more dedicated to food and drink.

Most buses from Madrid to Alicante were express, but the 15:00 one used to make a lot of stops marked “Ruta del Quijote.” The times I got stuck on this very slow bus, I don’t remember seeing any bicycles, though, and La Mancha is a very hot, dry region, -not quite desert, but getting there. Going to Spain in the off-season is definitely a good idea, -a way to avoid elevated prices as well as heat and crowds of tourists.

Hi there

I am from Spain myself (northen area). As others above have mentioned the traffic/driving in Spain is not any worse than in any others places (at least in Europe). You get good/polite drivers and bad/aggressive drivers.

Let’s make something clear: in Spain cycling is very popular. Of course is not as popular as in the Netherlands for example, but you could say that it is as least as popular as in the UK if not more.

The problem in Spain is that, as in some other countries in Europe, the built up areas/cities where the majority of people live are not bicycle friendly at all (they don’t have a cycle lane and there is far too much traffic). The cities don’t spread out much due to the high number of apartment blocks so a huge amount of people live in a relatively small area. Therefore, many people choose to only cycle when going away on holydays/weekends etc…

If you are cycling through quite roads, small towns, rural areas you will be fine and I am sure you will spot many people cycling along the way. I am sure you are going to really enjoy it and have a great time.

As others have said avoid the peak of the summer time at all costs: if you are away from the sea the heat around that part of the world is unbearable if you are not used to it. Otherwise, just avoid the worst of the heat: there is a reason for a ‘siesta’ in the afternoon in a very hot/sunny day…:wink:

Have a great time and don’t worry about the traffic at all! :slight_smile:

Hi, I was with my uni a few times in Spain and I have quite positive experience out of that.
I commuted between Madrid airport area and Madrid center a few times and although on some roads I felt not very confident, I was still do majority of it without escaping onto the pavements.
I was also riding on the roads in Almeria area during winter last year. On some roads it was pleasure, especially the scenic ones in the mountains, but the others were just plain roads without any sideway and quite many trucks, which made them not very pleasant. So you might get a mix of both.
Anyway, that is nothing impossible to ride there, so just be cautious and give it a try!

If you speak Spanish you should definitely try http://foro.monociclos.com/ for information from locals.

There’s a cool trail (converted from rail) called Senda del Oso in Asturias that I rode last August. Maybe not what you had in mind but thought I’d add this to the thread for future reference. It a beautiful place.

I’ll just throw in that in San Sebastian they have a teriffic system of bike lanes, many of which are completely separate from the roadway. Some even have their own traffic lights! It was actually quite fun commuting the ~2km from the Unicon village to our apartment near the beach, not having to make many stops along the way. :slight_smile:

Yes! This trail also passes through San Sebastian, and a small section of it was included in the XC Muni race course. That fact was probably a factor in the needing to cancel part of the race and not be able to re-run the Experts after the course markings were messed up; presumably by hikers that didn’t like the tape strung across “their” trail. :frowning:

Here’s a video of one of the San Sebastian bike lanes, though not in the downtown area (not part of my Unicon commute)

Scenes from the Muni events

That bike path looks sketchy but in Moscow I have seen much much worse. We have some that just end - not an an intersection or a building but I think the people who were making the path just got tired half way through and so stopped.

I have decided to take my Hatchet to Spain and go slowly. I think maybe 20-30K a day. I will have about 10 days and I think the distance is about 180K total so plenty of time to see the sites and enjoy the trip.
With the Hatchet I can roll over whatever I need to on the way and even cut across the desert areas if needed.

The trip will be next March and I’ll keep everyone posted.

Thanks for all the good advice.

Not really mentioned in the video is that the path was routed around a building construction area. The sketchy part was some “custom” painted lines going around the wall of the construction site, until it joined back into the existing pathway. I should have made a video in the downtown area, which would have been more interesting to watch. You could probably get from the Unicon venue to our apartment near the beach faster than a car could, and do it all legally!

I think it’s great that there are any cycle lanes at all! I was there once, briefly, in 1990. Mostly I remember that the roads (and the headlights) were not good; not good at all. :astonished:

Hi, not unicycled but cycled quite a lot in Spain, moved from South of France to Malaga, partially cycling where it was possible (we drove a family van). I find the roads in Spain quite good, but sometimes it’s the traffic that scared us :D.
So, as locals say, everywhere you have bad (crazy) drivers and good ones (following the rules).
I spent most of the time cycling in Barcelona and around, I find this city very “cycling friendly” and generally friendly and hospitable. I would love to come back there one day and stay longer, maybe even live for some time, buy apartment in Barcelona https://tranio.com/spain/catalonia/barcelona/apartments/ and try a renting business :roll_eyes:

I was in Madrid past days… not at all that cycle-friendly like San Sebastian is.
But the pedestrians don’t seem bicycle tolerant, so for a unicyclist very likely fine.