I first discovered Slipins in 2018 when I was looking for an alternative to the bikini. I was sick of all the shaving, awkward tan lines, and general impracticality of bikinis for being active in the water. I have always been a huge fan of onesies/jumpers, so I was so excited when I found out I could wear them in the water as well. I loved the beautiful colors and patterns inspired by ocean creatures. It quickly became my favorite piece of clothing.
As I started wearing it, I realized it was made for so much more than just the water. The fabric is so comfortable, breathable and quick drying that it works really well for doing anything active on land. Plus you get 60+ UPF sun protection. I began using it for hiking around my beautiful home on Kauai, Hawaii.
It's especially perfect for hikes to places you want to swim like waterfalls. You don't even have to change. You can just jump right in the water. Then you bask in the sun for a few minutes and you're dry and ready to go.
But my greatest discovery yet was when I tried using it for biking! I brought it with me on a two week bikepacking trip along the Camino de Santiago. I cycled 600 miles across Spain in my Slipin, from the foot of the Pyrenees mountains to the coast of Galicia. It was the perfect bike suit. It's form fitting, making you aerodynamic; and stretchy, allowing for easy movement; plus the thumb holes and foot stirrups keep the suit in place. When I was waking up just before dawn to beat the heat of the day, mounting my bike in the dim morning light, it kept me warm until the sun came up. And as I was riding in the middle of the day across the hot plains of Castile and Leon I stayed nice and cool even though I was completely covered up. With two weeks of riding 6 hours a day in the sun I never got burned. It saved me from having to apply annoying chemical sunscreen and from getting ugly bikeshort and bike t-shirt tan lines. I also got a lot of compliments from other bikers along the way for my unique style. By the end of the trip me, my Slipin and my bike were bonded for life.
Now I'd like to give you a glimpse into my bike adventures along the Camino de Santiago.
A Day in the Life of the Camino
I awake at 6 am to the sound of Gregorian chanting being played over a loud speaker. I begin to hear the rustling of pilgrims as they climb out of their bunks to tend to their morning rituals. I am staying in a giant convent in Roncesvalles that has been converted into a hostel to house the 300,000 plus pilgrims that make the journey to Santiago each year. The room is more of a hall, with high ceilings and large exposed wooden beams, and it is packed with row after row of bunkbeds. I climb out of my own and start preparing myself for my first day on the trail.
I have two 20 liter panniers where I keep a change of clothes, sandals, pyjamas, a sleep sack made out of a sheet (in case of bed bugs), a towel, my toiletries, a computer, a journal, 2 liters of water and an emergency kit. I pack up my bags and head down for breakfast.
At the hostel, breakfast and dinner were included in the price of my bed. All for just 10 euros. They have great deals for pilgrims along the Camino. There are so many of us they had to split us up into groups to feed us. They gave me a ticket for 7 am. I load up my bike and park it outside of the restaurant. After a quick breakfast of coffee and toast with jam I hop on my bike and start following the yellow arrows that mark the trail.
The sun is just barely up and it's much colder than I expected in the Pyrenees. It's 40 degrees and I have fingerless gloves. But at least I have my Slipin to keep me warm. The trail is dirt, alternating between fields and patches of forest. The air is fresh and sweet with the scent of pines and wildflowers.
I am alone, like most people on the Camino. But you're never alone for long. You can quickly make friends along the way if you want to. Everyone cheers each other on until the finish line. You constantly hear the trademark greeting as people pass you, "Buen Camino."
The trail starts getting into some steep downhills with lots of rocks to dodge. There's no stopping at this decline. You go too fast and you fall. You go to slow and you fall. It's all about finding the delicate balance. I manage to pause on a small platform, surveying the trail below me, unsure if I can go on. Another biker stops next to me, looks down at the trail and looks up at me. "Fuerza," he says, egging me on. He descends and I follow behind him. I steady myself on the bike, raised up off the seat with knees bent to absorb the shock. My adrenaline kicks in and time seems to slow as I make quick decisions on which part of the path to take. The earth slides under me as I go fishtailing through the loose rocks. It feels a bit like skiing but on a bike. I make it to the bottom, back on hard dirt, whooping in triumph.
I see some people that I recognize from the hostel on the trail, a couple from Pais Vasco. We both stop at a little restaurant along the trail and I ask if I can sit with them. Inside I order a piece of tortilla española. I see that they sell the mark of the pilgrim, a white scallop shell with a red cross painted on it. I buy one to hang on the back of my bike. At the register I pull out my Pilgrim passport, a document you are given to get stamped as proof that you actually travelled along the Camino. The cashier pulls out an ink pad and the restaurant's custom rubber stamp, pressing it onto the paper.
After our quick snack we head out together, riding little forest trails along the river. We make it to our next destination, Pamplona, checking into a hostel just outside of the city. I shower, change into my day clothes, hand wash my Slipin and hang it up to dry. I meet some walkers (most people walk the Camino) and we all head to the restaurant next to the hostel. We get the pilgrims four course meal: a soup for a starter, a pasta as first course, a meat as the main, half a bottle of wine, dessert and coffee, for 10 euro.
After dinner, a group of us go into Pamplona to sight see. We wander through the streets, chatting to get to know each other and occasionally stumbling upon bits of history. The hostel closes at 11, so we rush to the bus to get back but it never comes. We won't make it in time if we walk so we stick out a thumb and a sweet Spanish woman stops to give us a ride. We make it back just as the innkeeper is closing the gate.
I climb into my bunkbed, too excited to sleep, thinking about starting the adventure all over again tomorrow. But finally the miles catch up to me and exhaustion wins over.
Written by Racquel Jaclyn Segato-Figueroa
Cycling Enthusiast. Economadic Artist.