Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Cycling tips for Bilbao

I'm currently in Bilbao, Basque Country - combining work and cycling again. I tried to get a rent bike (here) but ended up taking my own Oltre XR2 with me (Lufthansa 50€ / direction). Here are some DOs and DON'Ts.


The best route I've ridden here is towards Santander in the West. Take and follow the N634 road. You get out of the city pretty soon, and the first 15 km are easy and help you to settle to riding. After that there are hilly stints every now and then.

As the road doesn't go beyond 200 vertical metres, the climbs are not very long. Some of them keep 10% for a kilometre or so, which makes them tough for a big guy like me.

After 25 km the road reaches the coast. The views are magnificent especially from hill tops.

The tarmac is good, shoulders usable and car drivers polite. No wonder that I encountered a hundred other cyclists along my way towards Laredo, the "summer house town" of Bilbao folks.


My first ride was to North-East. The goal was to reach the coastal town on Bermeo. For a tourist it is difficult to avoid the highway to Mungia. Painful 10% uphills, and similar downhills.

When I put the bike together after arrival, I didn't fasten the front wheel tight enough. It caused me frightful moments. I was doing 70 km/h downhill, and the bike started to wobble. The shaking was severe and didn't stop until I came to a full stop. I was convinced I can't keep it upright but finally and luckily everything ended fine. What an idiot I was: I get a mechanical failure on a section where cycling is not allowed. Don't be a similar asshole!

In Mungia I failed to turn to the right direction and took a wrong road towards South-East.

I ended up to roads that were not very good for riding. Most annoying thing was the extremely rough tarmac.

It is 18-22 °C here and barely above zero in Finland. There are hill that we lack back at home. So, it is a pleasure to ride no matter what small nuisances there might be.

N634 seems to be a good choice for a cyclist here. Today I rode it South along the river. Again, the surface and shoulders are ok but on this side of Bilbao there is a lot of traffic. One delivery van turned right in front of me without turn signal. I had to brake tight and still ended up leaning its side. Overall not as scenic or pleasant as the North/West side but a good route for a workout.

If I had time, I would continue from Durango to Legutio mountain lake, or to Eibar as the pros did in the Tour of Basque Country this year.


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