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Crossing the United States with Sergio de Arrola

USA end-to-end, 5.000 Km, 48 days  a backpack with a Leica M6 and a Hasselblad 500 and everything done on his bike. Millions of faces, landscapes and endless stories to tell!! This is what one day Sergio de Arrola said to himself…Why not?

We met in the last Cyclo Cultura in Barcelona and we saw that he was a really interesting guy, so much that we didn’t want to lose the opportunity to interview him and know some more about him and here is the result.

1. If you’d stop in front of a mirror, how would you introduce yourself? 

My name is Sergio de Arrola, I am photographer and from Madrid. As many who will read this, I got back in touch with fixed gear bikes a couple of years ago. Then, based on kilometers that I do, I’ve become road cyclist and particularly I like to do long trips on my bike.

 2. What is your relationship with the world of cycling, and how did you come up this big adventure?

My relationship with the bike world is totally amateur. For me my bike is a way to get around. It’s my way to escape and also connect to the amazing world which I live in. I know it sounds very hippie, but it’s hard to define my relationship with the bike.

A few months ago I planned to do a long bike ride and the U.S. has always been very attractive to me, so said it and did it. There I stood, with little more than a notebook with some handwritten stages, a wallet and I thought the material needed for this type of route. I don’t know how, but I managed to accomplish it 48 days has I had planned the route on Google Maps in Madrid.

3. What was the reaction of those closest to you, after you proposed to do this?

My mother was the one that encouraged me to cross the country. Surprisingly she proposed it to me at a family dinner and automatically started planning the trip.

First reaction was that they were surprised and did create distrust. As they were watching as I completed stages, via Instagram, I guess they started to believe. The same thing happened to me. I think I was confident until I reached the geographical midpoint of U.S. That night was I went ballistic with joy. The next morning, the weather gave me a lesson and everything covered in snow. So after that I didn’t believe until I reached my destination in Los Angeles. They say that you can never shout victory until the end. Lesson learned.

4. Can you tell us how was your trip? Good/bad times, what had most impact on you and what you will always remember.

My trip overall was very good. As I told you, I had everything. It was really sunny, it rained as I’ve never seen before and it even snowed, quite hard for a couple of days. But the worst thing was the wind. The wind dents you morally. Pedaling alone against the wind and also loaded with saddlebags is hopeless. Another thing that I learned on this trip, is that to ride so many kilometers it’s better to have a good head than two muscular legs.

I will always remember the sunsets in Colorado, the tranquility of the motels and the flat roads of Kansas.

5. Can you tell us about the “Rolling Habits”?

The Rolling Habits at first it was just the name of a photo blog and it’s become a sort of alter ego. Later on, I bought a printer, and I started sticking my photos all over the city, my friends house and all the places that they let me do it. So I continued using the name for this too.

After the U.S. trip, I was considering the title of the book and everyone recommended me Rolling Habits, so I listed to them.

Rolling Habits is Sergio de Arrola and Sergio de Arrola is Rolling Habits. Roll up a lot of things throughout the day, as spools, paper, wheels and some other thing.

6. How would you define the style of photography you do, and what do you look for when you taking photos?

The style of photography that I like to do is documentary and manners. I like to portray people in their usual environments, common objects and landscapes that tell me something.

I like my portraits make them straightforward. I like voyeurism, but don’t like to practice it a lot. I prefer to have a conversation and then take the photo. That’s usually my modus operandi.

 7. After your adventure, could you give us some advice on what you can’t miss on a trip like this?

As you began the journey I considered going as light as possible. The truth is that I think I achieved it. I wore an on pair of sets for the bike and one pair of street clothes. The drawback is that you dress the same way almost 50 days and have to do laundry dress or naked, but then when your on the bike you appreciated every pedal stroke you give.

Basic thing to take on a trip like this: Garmin (besides for not getting lost, you get entertained with speed average, and other things you come up with) meteor network (Very useful was taking my jacket that gives you heat, a biker for over saddlebags: Useful things for a journey fruit you just bought or anything that fits in the bag), and a scarf (useful for heat and cold… I don’t know what I would have had done without it).

8. What are your future projects and the destination for your next adventure?

I hope to continue riding my bike and shooting photos. I’m considering a long trip to Africa next year. This time on a cyclocross bike. What I would like is to have bike sponsorship, equipment and anything to diets. Although what I want most want is to edit a book around every great cycling trip I do.

9. Small phrase of your passion for cycling.

Make the transport a sport

10. Thanks to…

Would thank the U.S. for being so great and beautiful. To all the people that I have met along the way. To Bárbara for making me happier every day. My Friend at Gorilla Coworking for putting up every day and giving me coffee. My parents and my brothers for supporting me in all my craziness. To all my friends in Barcelona and Madrid for helping me become who I am. To Dosnoventa for being such nice people. To Paul at Kapelmuur for being the store in my neighborhood. To Paul, Stefan and all the people from Raw Cycling Mag for this interview and for being such good people. And to all who have helped me, for the ones that help me or will help me.

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