Get to know yourself on your bike. Blending technology with spirituality, Eurovelo Route 3 allows you to follow the footsteps of the pilgrims across Santiago de Compostela and discover yourself, all while supported by EuroVelo’s app. The app, launched in 2019, provides interactive maps, waypoints, and guidance about accommodation and supplies, thus easing your journey.
Self-discovery has a new shape and form – that of the electric bike pilgrimage. Blending technology with spirituality, EuroVelo’s Route 3 allows you to follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims across Camino de Santiago on your electric bike and have a life-changing experience, all while supported by an intelligent app that guides you on your journey.
Here is how technology is shaping the new self-discovery experience.
What is Camino de Santiago?
The legend goes that in the early 9th century, a hermit named Paio, who lived in the old town of Santiago de Compostela, and Bishop Theodemar discovered the tombs of Apostle Saint James and his two disciples. Apostle Saint James was one of Jesus Christ’s three closest apostles, and his prominence attracted many pilgrims to Santiago. That marked the start of Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of St James.
Back in the day, the pilgrims knew about the route from word of mouth and would give each other tips about which villages to pass and what’s the safest way to cross the mountains. In the 1980s, the official route was created by Father Elías Valiña Sampedro, the priest of the Galician village of O Cebreiro, who used yellow arrows to mark the ancient route for the pilgrims. They usually started the route from their homes, but various ‘official’ ways were developed with time.
Map it out
Today, there are many official ways and maps to follow. But what’s revolutionising the modern-day pilgrimage is smart cycling tourism. EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, encourages cycling amongst citizens and has 17 long-distance routes across 38 countries, totalling 90,000 km. In its mission to bring together the continent’s cycle paths, EuroVelo has developed an app that brings the cycling experience to the next level.
The official app, launched in 2019, features overview information, interactive maps, waypoints, and guidance about supplies and accommodation. It’s all of the pilgrim’s knowledge displayed on your mobile device. Currently, it’s available for five of the major routes (3, 5, 8, 10, and 13), and there are plans to add the other routes in the future too.
The way of the electric bike pilgrim
Equipped with this app, you will be able to follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims, as EuroVelo 3, called the Pilgrims Route, is featured on the app. The full route starts from Trondheim, Norway and goes south following St Olav’s Way. After that, it continues through the Oxen Way, an ancient trackway from Viborg via Flensburg to Hamburg. Further south, France and Spain, the route will give you a taste of some of Europe’s famous pilgrims’ ways, ending in Santiago de Compostela.
The route is 5,300 km-long, but the good news is that it’s split into stretches, meaning you can pick the ones you want to do. If you want to tap into the Camino de Santiago vibe, then the last stretch Camino Francés, or the French Way, will take you through one of the most well-known routes. It runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side. That’s followed by another 780km to Santiago de Compostela, through the major cities of Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, and León.
While walking the Way of Saint James by foot is incredibly gratifying, hopping on your electric bike will give you a totally different experience. Exploring the pilgrims’ route on two wheels, an electric motor, and a battery, you can cover more distance and have an ease of movement, all while devouring the beautiful scenery.
The route transcends you to the authentic pilgrimage ambience, saturated with ancient old churches and cemeteries, breathtaking landscapes, and old towns. The EuroVelo app is handy once again as a tour guide. It features Points of interest (POIs) that help you discover UNESCO sites, famous sightseeing spots, and other hidden gems with your electric bike. Moreover, you can partake in a gamification system that lets you ‘check in’ to numerous POIs and update your friends and family on your progress on the route.
Sylvie Francotte, a life-long pilgrim who’s completed EuroVelo 3, shared: “What cycling shares with walking is the possibility to experience a deep contact with the environment we are travelling.” Electric bike pilgrimage gives you a taste of both – the self-discovery experience and the chance to be a part of the welcoming cycling community. So, channel your inner pilgrim the biking way.