Mike Friddell does a drop gap at the Arrowhead Bike Farm’s Trials and Tracks Competition (2022)

Fefo (a.k.a., Freddy) Astrada and Todd Cook recently partnered with North American Trials, run by Mike Friddell, to provide a new trials rider spotlight series on Instagram. After hearing about their idea and seeing the first rider spotlight, I knew I had to talk to these guys to find out more about their concept as well as help spread the word. I reached out to each of them to get their perspectives on the new spotlight series and how it came to fruition. Naturally curious, I also asked them to share a little of their own backgrounds, and some of the history behind the North American Trials organization, all of which I’m going to share here with you.

Nathanial Moore was the first rider in the new spotlight series. Expect to see more like this!

The Spotlight Series Concept

Since the project has only just begun, the approach to the spotlight concept is likely to be refined with time. Freddy and Todd envision the spotlight series as a way to share North American trials riders’ stories with the broader trials community. The main qualification for being featured is that they live in North America and have a passion for riding trials; other than that, selected riders can be new or experienced, young or old, and riding competition or street.

In a nutshell, the idea is to provide a place where we can meet and connect with other members of the North American trials community and share our love for the sport.

One of the objectives of the series is to ensure that less experienced riders are included along with the experts, because doing so makes the idea of trials riding more accessible, and therefore, more likely to attract new riders. This is a good thing: most of us would love to ride like Danny MacAskill or Jack Carthy, I’m sure, but nobody ever starts there.

Freddy and Todd agreed that Nathaniel Moore should be the first rider featured in the spotlight series. Nathaniel was chosen to show that there are some extremely talented street riders here in the US; however, Todd and Freddy believe that sharing a variety of rider styles and experience levels adds value to the community.

“Freddy and I both independently thought that Nathaniel Moore was the perfect guy for the first spotlight. He’s definitely my favorite street trials rider in the US.”

Todd Cook

How the Idea Was Born

Worldwide, the bike trials community is pretty small. In North America, we have a small number of riders who are spread over a huge geographical area, with few trials events – all factors that collectively make it challenging to connect in person with other trials riders. However, meeting other trials riders – virtually and in person – and building relationships throughout the community is essential to sustain (and grow!) the sport.

Freddy had been thinking about how to provide a platform to showcase the North American trials community via social media. He had already created the USA Bike Trials Riders group on Facebook, but was looking for ways to reach a broader audience.

“I wanted to make sure the North American trials community had a voice, and in a space that was relevant, like social media, mainly Instagram.”

Freddy Astrada

Prior to creating a new Instagram account, Freddy first searched on “North American Trials” and came across the @northamericantrials account. Freddy remembered that the account was managed by Mike Friddell, so he reached out, offering to help with the North American Trials social media presence. Having secured permission to use the Instagram account, Freddy also sought talent to help develop effective content. Having been impressed by the Instagram content created by fellow trials rider Todd Cook, Freddy reached out to enlist Todd’s help.

“I fully support taking the opportunity to show the world that we have some excellent riders here and give them the recognition they deserve.”

Michael Friddell

Todd actually met Freddy via the aforementioned USA Bike Trials Riders Facebook group. He admitted to me that up until two months ago, he hadn’t heard of North American Trials. But Freddy approached Todd to pitch the idea, Todd was onboard with the concept of using the social media platform to strengthen and grow the North American trials community.

“Freddie and I both individually had the same idea for doing a series to spotlight North American riders and lists of riders that we already had in mind. I like the idea of this series, because there just aren’t many known names in trials in North America. When I think of Europe, there are a ton of riders that are known by the entire community. One way we learn about these people is through groups like Shindig Media, and @mindcontroltrials. My hope is that the NATS social media accounts can serve a similar function in North America.”

Todd Cook

The People Behind the Project

Fefo “Freddy” Astrada

Freddy began riding trials in Argentina at about 15 years old. He was first exposed to the sport by watching a friend ride a strange seatless (homemade!) bike over various obstacles like walls and benches. Injuries have sidelined Freddy a few times, but his love for the sport has remained, keeping him coming back for more. As you can see in his videos, Freddy loves riding street on his 26-inch comp bike; his style preference is early 2010s.

“I’m super excited to see how much growth trials has in the USA in the coming years, and I can already see a lot of riders being involved in super cool things locally. I would encourage everyone to add your grain of salt!”

Freddy Astrada

Todd Cook

Todd is an attorney located in the Seattle, WA area. Like me (and many others), he had never heard of trials until he saw a Dannay MacAskill video – in his case, Way Back Home. Having had no trials experience and no idea what would come of it, Todd bought an Inspired Arcade in April 2020 to give him something interesting to do during COVID lockdown. Since then, he’s been plugging away at it, making steady progress. He’s also added a GU stock comp bike to his trials bike fleet, though the Arcade remains his favorite. He sees himself primarily as a street rider, but loves pure trials as well; in fact, he’s hoping to try riding in some trials competitions at some point.

“I post a lot on Instagram as @todd_on_bikes and give a lot of credit to the worldwide Instagram trials community for helping me progress. Kind people all over the world have helped me learn new skills and progress on my riding. #RideInspired”

Todd Cook

Mike Friddell

Mike started riding trials in 1993 through mountain biking events, when he rode XC. In reflecting back, Mike is amazed at how long ago that was (30 years!). He was exposed to trials via XC and downhill events that included trials competitions. Using his XC bike, he entered hist first trials competition and performed fairly well, prompting him to cobble together his first trials bikes and enter future competitions.

Since those early days in his trials career, Mike has taken over the reins of North American Trials and has been organizing the annual North American Trials Championship competitions, which have become part of the Bentonville Bike Fest for the past couple years.

North American Trials: A Bit of History

Mike Friddell runs the rider meeting before the 2022 North American Trials Championship competition

In preparation for writing this post, I asked Mike if he’d be willing to provide some of the history behind his involvement with North American Trials, because I knew it would be really interesting, in addition to providing some context for the new partnership with Freddy and Todd. Mike’s response certainly did not disappoint! I’ll let Mike tell the story in his own words.

Around 1998-2000, Tim Williamson started the North American Trials Series (NATS). At the time, it was just a loose-knit group of event directors: Tim, Randy Vancil, Robin Coope in Canada, Pete Wilk in the northeast, Steve Arrowood in Gunnison, CO, and a few others scattered around. It was around the same time that Aaron Lutze started riding in Wisconsin. I knew I had to get more involved and really wanted to try running my own event. I teamed up with a mototrials group in southern Ohio called “Trials, Inc.” and invited everyone I knew in the trials world. We had four riders including myself but I was seriously hooked. I went back home to WV and started setting sections in the woods near my parents’ house.  

In 2001, I drove to Nashville to visit my then-girlfriend, now my wife, and was passed by a pickup truck with a mototrials bike in the back. I tailed him to a rest area and, like a psycho, I walked right up to him and asked where he was going to ride his trials bike. Luckily, mototrials riders are just as kooky and cool [as] bike trials riders so we stood there and talked a while. He told me about the Southeastern Trials Riders Association (STRA) and the Trials Training Center (TTC). Soon after, I visited the TTC and met a whole bunch of great folks – not to mention drooling over the jaw-dropping terrain they have. It really is a trials paradise. Right then, I started making plans to put on bicycle trials competitions at the TTC.

At the same time, I took over as the director of NATS from Tim [Williamson] and started working with the other event directors around North America to keep the series going. We had about six to seven events every year such as the TTC, Flint Michigan, Motorama in PA, EFTA, Colorado, Tishomingo Oklahoma, Eureka Springs in AR, Big Bear Lake and Mammoth Mountain in California, and Squamish in BC. There were others that I’m forgetting about. It’s rather amazing how many great people and venues we had compared to today. Oh, and I have to shout out Mike Steidley for acting as the riders’ representative in the decision-making and planning.

In January 2005, JP Sickler contacted me about taking over as the manager of the USA Cycling Trials team for the 2005 UCI World Championships in August. I jumped at the opportunity and went to Livigno, Italy, that summer with Ryan Cecil, Ed Gildea, Cam Kowall, Brian Eberle (Yezierski), Jeremy VanSchoonhoven, and Ian Poor. It was an eye opening trip for all of us. The leadership at USA Cycling were happy with my role and the team so they asked me to do it again in 2006. As it happened, my first child was due, and was in fact born, the same week as the UCI World Champs in Rotorua, NZ, so I didn’t get to go that year. I recommended Zak Maeda as my sub and he went. USAC asked me back again in 2007 (Fort William) and that’s where I first met James Barton. Back then, he was on fire in the Junior 20″ and 26″ field and went on to take bronze in the 2008 (Val di Sole) Junior 20″ and silver on 26″.  I continued to serve as the trials team manager 2008 through 2011. In 2011 (Champery), we only had one trials rider on the US team, Ryder Okumura, so USAC decided that I wasn’t needed anymore. Plus, USAC wanted to focus on the 2012 Olympics in London and so trials fell by the wayside. I did get to help coordinate with Ross Winsor going to a few UCI World Cup events and the Farrar boys going to the BIU World Championship in Spain in subsequent years but I didn’t travel with them.

During those same years, the attendance at NATS events was dropping off and fewer people were willing to keep running their events. I kept the TTC events going through 2018 but even had to stop myself because we only had six riders that year. In an effort to consolidate resources, reduce travel expenses for everyone, and get more riders together, I decided in 2014 to stop the points series and hold a single 2015 North American Championship event. Old School Colorado rider, Bryan Everhart, stepped up to secure and plan the venue at Keystone Ski Resort. He helped create a new logo, order swag, and pull in sponsorship money for a big prize purse. It was a huge deal with carved logs for obstacles and vendor tents from WebCyclery and Northwest Trials. Bryan helped me keep that going in Valmont (2016) and North Carolina (2017). The events went great and we had as many as 39 competitors so I decided that the single-event championship was the way forward for now. That said, I’ve always been committed to restarting a points series if the population of competitive riders and event directors allowed for it. My hope is that the increased popularity caused by Bentonville, these social media efforts, and the overall recognition of trials in the mountain bike community will allow trials to grow.

Thank you for giving me a chance to tell this story. There is really a lot more to it but I feel I’d better stop here. That said, there are a few more people I would like to thank for their contributions to our sport beyond those mentioned above (in no particular order):  

  • My parents to helping me with absolutely everything
  • Doug White for running the NORBA Trials series
  • Tom McNeal for being a huge moral support and top notch competitor
  • The whole McNutt family for the North East Points Series (NEPS)
  • Jay de Jesus for helping me get started in trials and pushing the development of the sport
  • Laird Knight for putting on the trials competitions in Davis, WV that started my journey
  • Doug Farrar for being a constant friend and encouraging his boys to push the level
  • Billy Hendrickson for helping me put on the event in Prescott, Arizona
  • Tony Delima and the northeast crew for helping me put on the event in Exeter, Rhode Island
  • And finally a massive thank you to innumerable people who have encouraged and supported me over the years 
Mike Friddell

One Last Thing…

Make sure you follow North American Trials (@northamericantrials), Freddy Astrada (@greenfefo_fpv), Todd Cook (@todd_on_bikes), and Mike Friddell (@mikethebike_friddell) on Instagram.


Freddy · February 8, 2023 at 11:17 pm

Tim, this was an awesome read! I loved reading all the folk roe that Mike had to share and it makes me want to turn into a series of podcasts haha. I am glad I can put my grain of salt in and help our community thrive 😊

    Tim Chemacki · February 9, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    Hey Freddy, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m also really appreciative of your inputs to the article and everything you’ve been doing to promote trials. I’m pumped to see the growing energy over the past couple years. Yeah, definitely some cool info from Mike there for sure.

Nathaniel Moore · February 9, 2023 at 1:09 am

Great article, especially the bit on Mike Friddell

    Tim Chemacki · February 9, 2023 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks! Yeah that was super interesting stuff from Mike!

Aaron Lutze · February 9, 2023 at 9:55 am

This was great! Well done pulling it all together!

Ronnie Traba · February 9, 2023 at 4:21 pm

Awesome. This reminds me the old times when I was still living in Brazil where we tried to make a big trials comunity at that country. I became an Echo Dealer, supported riders like Diego Magno. It was a great era for me and now I see Tim putting his effort to make things happen here too. I meet Fefo’s friend in Argentina in 2008 during a competition, but I didnt konw him at the time. Finally I met him In Fort Lauderdade in 2016 but I moved up no north, and we didnt ride together, then, he moved ut to north too, but far away from me 🙁 Story of my life. I would like to be more active in trials now and help the comunity to get bigger somehow. EUA is a great and huge country and deserves a big trials comunity too. Thanx for the Northeast Trials rider Group.

    Tim Chemacki · February 9, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks Ronnie! I’ll bet you have some cool stories from back in the day! The Northeast Bike Trials group here has been awesome. I’d love to see groups like that growing all over North America.

OTN LURKER · February 9, 2023 at 7:20 pm

Great little history piece.

North American Trials Riders, You Need To Watch This - This Is Bike Trials! · September 18, 2023 at 10:44 am

[…] here in North America, as well as his role in organizing and coordinating trials competitions. As a passionate bike trials advocate, Mike runs North American Trials and the associated annual trials competition. He’s committed […]

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *