Surviving and Loving My First Bike Tour in Basque Country

January 16, 2023   3 Comments »

Surviving and Loving My First Bike Tour in Basque Country

June 19, 2018 3 Comments »

I adjusted the strap on the helmet, a helmet I was borrowing because I didn’t know I had to bring my own. That was mistake #1 on my first bike tour – and probably not my last. I put the helmet on, clicked the buckle into place, and patted the top of my helmet a bit as if I were making sure it was going to withstand an impact. The morning sun was shining outside the Guggenheim Bilbao museum as Sebastian and Luca showed us our bikes and we each eagerly adjusted the seats and gave them a spin. Little did I know that it was going to be the only morning the sun shone in the next week; I might have savored the warm sunlight more if I had known.

I took the bike for a little spin, a bit wobbly at first making a tight left turn, and wondering for a second if this week-long bike tour was a good idea. Our guide, Sebastian, came over to ask me how I felt and show me the various components of the e-bike I would need to get familiar with. It seemed pretty simple and he certainly had a reassuring tone. I’m sure it will all be fine I said in my head.

first bike tour basque country

Before I knew it, all 15 of us were rolling down the street along the river in Bilbao ready to take off on a new adventure. And within a few minutes, I was reminded that the old saying is true – you never forget how to ride a bike; however that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are as good at balancing as you were at 5 years old when you learned! Regardless, it all came back pretty quickly, and within the first few blocks of pedaling through Bilbao’s old town in the early morning hours, I was already loving it!

My First Bike Tour Takes Me Through Basque Country

The Basque Country is located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. We covered a great deal of the region biking roughly 150 miles and busing up any long uphill sections of the Pyrenees and foothills.

A map of our nightly stops covering the entire region:

There is a beautiful ritual and routine to hiking or biking tours and this one was no exception. Each morning we’d get up, pack our bags, put them outside our hotel door, go to breakfast, and then get on our bikes. We’d bike most of the morning until lunch, have an incredible picnic, and then bike to our hotel. Rest a bit, walk around town, meet for dinner, and repeat the next day. Even though our routine was the same every day, our landscapes changed drastically.

Cycling down the Gotthard Pass in the Swiss Alps: taking the Tremola Road less traveled

This was my first time in Basque Country Spain – or at least I thought it was. But then I realized that I did actually walk through a portion of it when I did the Camino de Santiago 6 years earlier! But instead of a brisk walk through one area, this time I was covering all of the regions of the Basque Country in Northern Spain.

We rode on little pathways, gravel farm roads, lake trails, roads, and through tunnels, on old railroad tracks, through forests, on beach promenades, and in little villages. Each day was different and exhilarating – see for yourself in my little Gopro handlebar video!