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Light Behind Lockdown

Twenty-one cyclists gave us a glimpse into what their lives were during their weeks of lockdown. Produced by Spanish photographer Albert Gallego, a.k.a. “Brazo de Hierro”, the striking images show the cyclists’ ‘dream caves’, lit only by the orange glow from their TVs and computer monitors. The photos are an intimate portrait into the subjects home in a time when video calls put many people’s personal belongings on display. They show a love-hate relationship, where pedaling becomes a metaphor for daily life – reduced to tiny circles, confined to home. Pedaling to preserve physical and mental health while the world outside turned upside down. Pedaling to preserve a dream of outdoor rides, when the orange glow of real sunshine warms the skin and coffee with mates punctuates a day of adventure.

Wake-up call

After all, I think that this served us to realize and appreciate what we have, to enjoy the little things as can be a small bike ride on the road."

IVAN GARCIA CORTINA (BAHRAIN-MCLAREN) - La Massana (Andorra) strava.com/pros/igarciacortina

Prepping the KOMs

For some people, it's about making bread, for others it's devouring three seasons of a show in a day. For us, we just put on our bibs, go into our caves and start suffering. In the end we are trying to do something useful with this time. It's hard, but we'll have other times for KOMs."

SERGIO QUERPACHE - Granollers (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/squerpache

One for the family

This has been a turning point for me, where I've realized the value of my family, my friends and everything around us."

ANDREA ROCA - Madrid (Madrid, Spain) strava.com/athletes/15452480

Routine

When the lockdown started, I had a clear objective: respect my routines as much as possible. That included riding, so I got out my old indoor-trainer that I had for sale, I video-called my partner-in-crime Carlos and we went at it. Venga!"

KIKE VEGA - Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/kike_kiks

Love & Hate

I have to recognize that the trainer has helped me a lot to get through the lockdown and stay active. On the other hand, I have to confess that my relationship with the trainer evolved over time. I started very motivated. Then I wanted to get better on the rollers. In the final days, the sessions became a chore. I couldn’t stand this trainer anymore."

MARIONA CORTES - Terrassa (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/22374632

Proust's madeleine

The situation was unprecedented. We've never lived through something like this before, although it's not so different from my youth living in rural Canada. I love riding outdoors, but strangely, the daily indoor training never bothered me. Which I guess shows, what's most important to me is just spending time on the bike pedaling."

CHRISTIAN MEIER - Girona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/christian_meier

Habit

At first, you find it hard to accept that you can't go out and train, but now that I'm used to it, I don't mind training with the rollers. On the contrary, I've even come to like it."

DAVID ALVAREZ - Santa Eulália de Riuprimer (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/dalvareznesple

Meditation

Riding indoors is an exercise in mental strength and concentration. It’s different from riding on the road, but it can still benefit your body and mind!"

SEPP KUSS (JUMBO-VISMA) - Soldeu (Andorra) strava.com/pros/sepp_kuss

Bright side

You try to adapt and as much as you think you'd like to be training outdoors, you know this is temporary. And then you look for the positive side, which isn’t always easy, but it’s always there."

SANDRA HEREDERO - Vic (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/sann_hr

An ally

Being at home for so long and being able to share this with my family has been a gift that I enjoyed to the fullest. The indoor trainer has been my great ally, since it’s allowed me to take advantage of all this time. The days went much faster when they were organized around my training."

CARLOS VERONA (MOVISTAR) - La Massana (Andorra) strava.com/pros/cverona

Summer perspective

Cycling indoors was a reminder that lockdown was temporary and that long summer days on the saddle were on the way. A reminder that to enjoy the highlights you must be tough enough to (literally) push through the lows. Life was going to carry on and I wanted to be ready for it."

CARLA ALONSO - Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/16092261

Focus

When I got on the home trainer, I had three things on my mind: escape, sweat and clear my head for a few minutes."

MARCEL BATLLE - Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/mbatlle

Music box

Hours of music and indoor training in the pain cave have facilitated these almost 50 days of lockdown at home."

GERARD HERNANDEZ - Girona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athetes/geehxc

IRL vs Virtual

I've learned to train without leaving home, to share my training virtually, and I'm convinced that when all things return to normal, I'll continue to combine traditional and virtual training."

SANDRA JORDA PASCO - Molins De Rei (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/sjordapasco

Boundary

On the bright side, this situation has allowed us to free ourselves from the superfluous and, perhaps, now we will recognize what has true value. The rollers have been great for me, not so much for physical training, but as a mental break, to separate my work and home life."

DAVID CASAS - Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athetes/5008309

Cohabitation

Almost two months of lockdown served as an exercise of communal living that few of us were used to. A coexistence only interrupted by the sound of the rollers. In every single session, the ability to disconnect your mind has been awesome. There was only one thing to think about: keep the watts on."

ALEX LEBRON - Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/5951741

A bottle in the sea

In difficult times people help each other out; I posted that I didn’t have a trainer and a stranger named Maia offered me these rollers. I spent my evenings doing cadence drills and letting my mind drift away from the whole difficult situation."

MICK HOOGWERF - Girona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/athletes/mick_hoogwerf

Connected

I feel really lucky that even within the restrictions that we have to live with right now I can continue to discover new aspects of cycling to love. I realize more than I did before how important the social aspect is and I love riding together online with people from all over the world. The indoor challenges we came up with are at least as challenging as climbing an unknown mountain pass in Italy or Spain, and just as motivational."

MARTIJN VAN STREIN - Rotterdam (Netherlands) strava.com/athletes/fernwee

QOM goal

I decided to embrace my situation, to dedicate myself to indoor training... with the motivation of a Strava segment QOM attempt on my favourite climb, Rocacorba, in my mind for when the lockdown lifted. I live in Banyoles, at the base of the climb and every day when I walked outside I would look to its summit and dream of reaching the top."

ASHLEIGH MOOLMAN (CCC LIV) - Girona (Catalonia, Spain) strava.com/pros/apasio

Unplug

For me the rollers have been a way out of this situation, a moment of total disconnection with everything external and a connection with the bike and myself."

PEDRO GONZALEZ - Las Palmas De Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) strava.com/athletes/pedrglezpht

The only way

Knowing it's the only option you have makes you avoid thinking about anything else but doing it."

CARLA NAFRIA DE MIGUEL - Madrid (Madrid, Spain) strava.com/athletes/13700786

About

After a few weeks of lockdown, I thought about how I could take pictures, without leaving home. I kept seeing friends training at home, on the rollers. It's something that never seemed aesthetic to me, but it occurred to me that I could document with photos what is known as the "pain cave" to the cyclists. The space where they train at home.

I talked to a friend who I know has a camera, and while he was training on the roller, I helped his wife set up the camera, to capture the picture I had in mind, all through a video call. I wanted to take the picture in very low light and only with the light of a screen, a TV, a laptop or a tablet. And make that light orange, a corporate color. A light that spreads within the room and that lets you see what was there, but that gave the cyclist the leading role. On the other hand, I wanted them to be pedaling with a high cadence, so that they would not be totally frozen, and give the sensation of speed and movement. Creating a poetic and metaphorical image of what it's like to train during confinement.

Working with different cameras, at a distance, even with a phone like an iPhone 11 Pro, at no time did I look for perfect image quality, or for the rider to be in perfect focus. I just wanted to be able to see through that half-open door where a light was coming out and see the space where the athletes are training.
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Albert de Gallego, “Brazo de Hierro”