- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
Santiago de Compostela : La Vuelta in the Age of Cathedrals
It is said that the tomb of Saint James the Great, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, is located within the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, and it’s at the foot of this very cathedral that La Vuelta 2021 will finish on September 5th.
Following the discovery of the apostle’s relics at the beginning of the 9th century, Santiago de Compostela became the site of one of the three most popular Christian pilgrimages, after Jerusalem and Rome. Whether or not the presence of this famous apostle’s remains is legend or truth (and it is still debated by historians today), the famous Saint James Way has certainly never seen so many visitors.
Every pilgrim who finishes their odyssey to Santiago de Compostela is invited to earn a compostela. The pilgrim’s certificate is reserved for those who journey at least 100 km to reach the city on foot or on horseback, or 200 km for cyclists, and for those who duly get their pilgrim’s passport stamped twice per day.
In 2018, more than 327,000 people walked through the doors of the office in charge of distributing the certificate, more than 6% of them were cyclists. Pilgrims on bikes are more and more common on the routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela, with its guarantee of a maiden voyage like no other, for those proficient enough in bike-packing.
It’s on this famous trail from France that we shared a one-day ride with other cyclists heading for Santiago. ‘Trail’ implies the necessity of equipment that can handle the terrain. Gravel bikes are ideal mounts for this type of route, which alternates between road and path. Of course, a pilgrimage is not a trek like any another. For most people who undertake the journey, walking is active meditation, and the final destination is a spiritual quest.
Here, cyclists are shoulder to shoulder with walkers – we alternate between road and path during the sinuous parts so that we don’t disrupt the walkers’ peace. Witnessing the sheer enthusiasm of these pilgrims, we take less and less notice of the fact that we’re riding in such a special place. No unnecessary noise, just the rustling of our tyres on the leaves and the ground, and we whisper, as though infused with the power of this place.
We dedicated this 50 km outing to discovering a mythical place and meeting fellow cyclists drawn to this extraordinary adventure. Travelling through the old town and arriving at the bottom of the huge 1,000-year-old cathedral, we can understand why it is such a unique site to visit. The sight of runners finishing the Spanish circuit at the doors of the cathedral, in a closely fought time trail, almost looks like an anachronism. When unveiling the route of La Vuelta, the director of the race exclaimed: ‘People say that any place is a good place to start the Camino de Santiago, but few places can match the beauty of Burgos cathedral, the starting point of the long route planned for La Vuelta’s 76th edition. 21 stages. From Burgos to Santiago. From cathedral to cathedral.'
It's Ventoux Time
When the organisers announced that the Ventoux would be climbed twice in the Tour de France 2021 edition, it was certain that July 7th was going to be a historic day.
Dancing on a Volcano
Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state of Hawai’i, with its peak towering at 4,207.3 m above sea level. It is often blanketed with snow and always protruding above the clouds.
Tracing the Torino-Nice Rally
A legendary gravel ride travelling from Italy to France. Sophie Gateau and Mathias Riquier explore the route ahead of the start of the Rally this September.
Sophie Gateau takes on the challenge of the 7 Majors of bikepacking. The route is a 345 km loop with 10,000 metres of elevation change through the Southern Alps in both France and Italy.