Freddy “hot dogging” on his trials bike

As part of my effort to expand the variety and amount of trials content available from This Is Bike Trials!, I’ve started interviewing trials riders throughout North America. I figured Fefo “Freddy” Astrada would be a great place to start.

If you’re active in the trials scene here in North America, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about Freddy Astrada. Not only is he an expert level trials rider, but he’s also a strong advocate for the trials community here in the United States. Freddy started and runs the USA Bike Trials Riders group on Facebook, where he’s pretty active. My first contact with Freddy was on the Facebook group, but I finally got to meet him in person at the 2022 Bentonville Bike Fest where we shared an AirBnB with some other trials riders.

Freddie’s enthusiasm and energy are infectious. If you have the opportunity to meet him face-to-face, you’ll see what I mean. And if you’re up for a trip to Wisconsin this October, you can meet him at the trials competition he’s hosting this year! If you can make it out there, please consider it. Not only will you get to meet Freddy, but you’ll get to hang out with a bunch of other trials riders as well.

Just a bit of trivia about Freddy. You’ll note that he has some tattoos. One in particular that I spied while I was at the 2023 Bentonville Bike Fest is an absolutely beautiful image of a trials bashring. Man, it is sick! And it leaves no doubt that Freddy is passionate about and dedicated to trials. (I geeked out a little bit and asked him to send a photo so I could share it with you.)

It is because of Freddy’s passion for trials biking that he’s one of the first people I’ve selected to interview on This Is Bike Trials! Despite already knowing Freddy, I was excited to read his answers to the interview questions. Here we go!

How long have you been riding bike trials?

I started riding bike trials 15 years ago, injuries and life in general kept me from riding consistently for those 15 years, so I would say maybe about 10 years of proper, actively riding.

How did you discover bike trials and how did you get started?

Sketchy homemade trials bike

I discovered trials through a friend of a friend. I was already riding bikes around town, mainly BMX and a bit of MTB too with the local crew. One day one of the guys invited me to go ride with one of his friends that I hadn’t met yet, and when I showed up, there was this guy with a super weird homemade bike. If I’m being honest, the bike looked super sketchy and like it was a pile of scrap tubes welded together, and of course no seat… I did not know what to make of it.

Shortly into the ride, this guy started climbing all over the city walls, jumping off huge ledges, and doing all kinds of crazy things. I realized it was the same things I was doing with my bike, but much bigger and cooler! He then told me about trials, showed me a couple of videos by awesome riders like Neil Tunnicliffe and Damon Watson, and I was very impressed! But I still wanted to ride BMX.

The final nail in the coffin was when he invited me to a trials competition happening in a neighboring city. This was during the “golden era” of trials in Argentina where I am from. After spending a weekend with about 50 other trials riders, meeting the most amazing bunch of people I’ve ever met, watching them compete with tons of passion while still supporting each other, and trying as many trials bikes as I could, I went back home and immediately sold my BMX bike and made the switch to trials.

How would you define/describe “bike trials” in your own words to someone who never heard of it?

It depends, I like to describe bike trials as “parkour on bikes” to people that may not be much into cycling or sports. But when it comes to fellow cyclists, I like to describe it as a branch of cycling that focuses on balance, bike control, technical riding, precision, and measurable progression.

I don’t like to tie the notion of “bike trials” to a “trials bike,” so I usually focus on telling people about the skills I mentioned, and how those apply to any sort of bike and bike riding preference. If you are using your bike handling skills to overcome obstacles that come in your way, you are riding trials!

What type of bike trials riding do you prefer (style, obstacle types, moves, solo/group, etc.) and where do you like to ride?

I am a huge fan of taking my competition bike on a good street ride, on a busy part of town with friends! I dabbled into actual street riding for a while, but it didn’t go as well as I envisioned it… footjam whips are hard!

Even though I’ve competed several times throughout my riding career and achieved some podium positions, my focus has never been on being a competition rider. My joy for riding trials comes from urban environments, riding with friends (even if they are not on trials bikes), and the interactions I have with people walking by that see me ride. Give me a wall to pedal up to in the middle of downtown and I can have a perfect day!

I also really enjoy doing shows. I started riding shows in Argentina with a company a friend of mine started (the same guy with the sketchy homemade bike). It was fun to travel around and ride bikes for cool events while we were in college, but it eventually became too much and we decided to focus on school. Nowadays I do independent shows, as well as riding for show companies that are MUCH more successful and high profile than our little show company back in Argentina. I think shows are a great way to introduce more people to our beloved sport!

Riding one of the obstacles in Bentonville

Why do you ride bike trials and what keeps you motivated to keep riding?

I ride bike trials because it’s meant a lot to me through my life. I have been to the most amazing places and met the most awesome people, who I consider brothers, through this sport. That is something I really appreciate, and sticking with the sport helps me stay connected to those feelings, those people and the community.

Also, as I mentioned before, I find trials to be a great sport for measurable progression. I really enjoy the feeling of identifying obstacles and techniques that are right outside my reach, homework if you may, and going through the process of figuring out how to improve my riding in order to overcome these obstacles. It is very rewarding to come back to that wall or rock that has been haunting you and nailing the line!

What’s the bike trials scene like near you? Are there other riders? Group rides? Comps?

The scene in Madison, WI has a lot of potential! The city has endless spots for some proper street rides, and we have a handful of people that own trials bikes in the area. Some of the local riders prefer mountain biking or moto trials and spend more time doing that over bike trials, but they do get out every now and then!

This year, I will be hosting a competition at a private farm that hosts an annual moto trials comp. I don’t think this is the first ever comp in the Madison area, but I am sure it’s the first one in a long time! This one on the other hand is an amazing place for some natural riding with endless rocks and lines. I am hoping that this competition can spark a bit of a passion in the existing local riders, and bring in some new ones so we can grow the scene around here.

Downtown gap

How do you manage fear when doing scary lines?

I don’t!!! This is my biggest struggle, I am always terrified when riding my bike! I am sure my skills are much better than what I think they are, but my fears get in the way all the time. My process usually involves slowly working up to the line I’m looking to tackle, often by going at it ready to bail and seeing how close I can get to sticking it. A couple of warm up tries usually does the trick and puts my mind at ease knowing I can bail, and that a bit more commitment can get me there.

Another really good one is support and encouragement from my friends! I always find that when out on a group ride, I send the biggest lines! When my friends see that I am terrified of a line or a move, they assure me I got the skills to pull it off, and their support and encouragement always makes it easy to quiet down the fearful thoughts and send it!

Who are your bike trials ‘heroes’ and/or influences?

I think there are too many to list! But I always had a special place in my heart for the riders on the global scene that were thriving when I started riding trials and during my personal best years in the sport. To name a few, I always looked up to riders like Damon Watson, Andrei Burton, Vincent Hermance, the Coustellier brothers, Neil Tunnicliffe, Benito Ross, Abel Mustieles, Borisevich Pavel, TRA… A nice mix of good ol’ TGS and great competition riders of that time.

What are your perspectives on the trials biking scene in general and in the US in particular?

I think there’s also a lot of potential here! There’s a ton of variables that can be tackled to encourage more people to get into the sport, and I don’t know which ones are the best, or more feasible ones. But I have seen firsthand how mountain biking has taken off in the past years, and I think that trials is not too far from experiencing a similar wave of growth.

I also believe that part of the key to this lies right there with mountain biking. There was a time where bike trials was basically very technical mountain biking, to the point where it was even part of the same events/races. With time, trials evolved into its own thing and grew apart from mountain biking, and I think bringing the two closer together can have a huge positive impact on trials!

I have personally done some shows at NICA races (NICA is a high school mountain biking association and they are awesome), and the response has always been outstanding at those shows! Every time I’ve done a show at a NICA event, at least one person has gone out and bought a trials bike to get started!

What would you like to see happening in the US with respect to bike trials?

I would love to see more events and dedicated spaces to ride, train, compete, etc. Our community is what keeps the sport alive, and there’s something quite amazing about getting together with riders from all over the country to share a weekend of bikes and fun, we need MUCH more of this!

Hosting an event can be as simple as setting a date and time, sharing the stoke, and having a sick group ride! Same with competitions, other than location and insurance, you don’t need much more to set a date, invite everyone over and have a great event!

The more events we have, the more our presence will be felt. This will lead to even more events, bigger attendance numbers, more dedicated spaces to host these events, companies looking to support and invest, etc. But none of this can happen if we don’t get the ball rolling!

Freddy Astrada holding up his medal and prize check
Medal and prize check from Bentonville Bike Fest

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start bike trials or has just started?

My advice to anyone starting or looking to start their trials journey, would be to take it easy and enjoy the process. Setting up big goals or having crazy expectations can lead to burnout and frustration really quick.

Just get out, ride your bike to your abilities, be creative to find your next challenging line or move, and practice a lot! A stack of pallets or the curb outside your house is all you need to practice the basics, get comfortable with your bike and start progressing! Don’t worry about expensive gear, back wheel hops, fancy techniques, and all of that at first. Just focus on nailing your balance and bike control, the rest will come with practice and time!

Any interesting / funny / crazy bike trials stories or experiences you can share?

Again, so many!!! One of my earliest great memories from trials is from when I was living in Argentina. Some riders from Chile had recently visited for a competition, and while they were there, they invited us to go over to Chile and participate on one of their comps.

Some friends and I decided to jump in on the opportunity and a couple of months later we hopped on a 16-hour bus ride over the Andes and into Chile. We really didn’t know much about what to expect when we got there, other than one of the Chilean riders said he would meet us at the bus station, and they would take care of everything.

When we arrived, a couple of the local guys met us and took all 4 of us and our bikes to an emptied out van, threw us in the back, that was already packed with probably 10 other riders with their bikes (this was NOT a big van), and we went on a super bumpy and fun ride to one of Chile’s most famous spots, where there were probably 20 other riders waiting for us to kick off a group ride, all within 20 minutes of arriving to Chile!

Arriving in a new country with absolutely no idea on what to expect and, being thrown head first into a wild ride on a sketchy van with complete strangers, that organized a sick group ride to welcome us, was absolutely amazing! Needless to say, that was just the first moments of an awesome trip overall.

Anything else about bike trials that you’d like to share?

I love this sport and community so much I could talk about it for days. But to keep it brief, I wanted to point out how being such a niche small corner of the cycling world can feel like a disadvantage, but it can also be a huge blessing!

Trials has taken me to many places all over North and South America. Every time I found myself visiting other places with my bike, I have been welcomed with the utmost hospitality by everyone I have ever met. We are part of something very unique, and that creates a connection between all of us that is very strong even if we don’t even know each other… Enjoy this! Other sports may be more popular, have more events, or support from brands. But they don’t have such a tight and welcoming community as we do!

How do people find you online? (i.e., YouTube, web, social media, etc.)

I can be found on YouTube and Instagram as “Greenfefo_FPV”, and on Facebook as “Fefo Astrada”. I also created and manage the USA Bike Trials Riders Facebook group and I want to find every last trials rider in this country with this group, so come hang out with us there!

What other US bike trials rider(s) should I interview here?

It seems like some years ago trials was thriving in the US. Maybe someone from those times that can tell us all about the competitions and events that happened back then? Matt Meyer possibly?


Interview With Matt Meyer - This Is Bike Trials! · November 17, 2023 at 12:02 am

[…] you have interviewed some of them but I’m going to list them all so I don’t miss any. Freddy Astrada, Aaron Lutze, Mike Steidley, Robbie Pfunder, Ross Winsor, Sean and Ian Farrar, Mike Friddell, Tom […]

Interview With Todd Cook - This Is Bike Trials! · December 22, 2023 at 12:03 am

[…] they have in Spain and some other countries. But with people like Kenny Belaey, Mike Friddell, and Freddy Astrada working on it, I expect to see more competition opportunities in the coming years in the […]

Interview with Sean Farrar - This Is Bike Trials! · December 29, 2023 at 12:02 am

[…] so I think even though we are very spread out, we will come together for comps. A few weeks ago Freddy Astrada put on a competition in Wisconsin and my dad and I drove 15 hours with Matt Meyer and Robbie […]

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