Meet Our All New Brand Ambassador // Rudy Testa

rudy-feature

A bio about Rudy

I have to admit,  I’ve never been the sportive type. A bit a jogging, played soccer as a boy and always saw bikes as a mean of transport….(apologies to all the bikes reading this). It’s only 3 years ago, at age 29, that I started to dig a bit deeper into cycling. Be careful, it often starts with an innocent afternoon ride in the countryside…well, that’s how it started for me.

But, hi!, I’m Rudy Testa. 32 years old and living in Brussels. A place where the sun will always be an abstraction of the mind. I studied a bit of philosophy, but passed my degree in anthropology, studying the influence of dogs packs on human communication. Seems strange, isn’t it? Spend several months living 24/7 with sledge dogs, take care of them, train them, feed them and you’ll soon be barking to people. Well, I barked….

Let’s go back to the beginning. Actually, I’ve always ridden my bike daily as I’ve lived in large cities and didn’t need a car (by the way, it should be about time to learn the code and get my driving license). I hate walking in the city, it’s just boring, but I love treks in the mountains. So a bike makes things much easier and faster. Unfortunately, I waited a dozen years before something tickled me about cycling.

At this time, I discovered that bikes come in different shapes and sizes… As I’m a bit short, my 57cm Peugeot was far too big for me and I started looking for something that would suit me better. It was when the “fixie fashion” was coming out of the “underground” in Brussels and I ended up building my own (which ruined my knees and back… Hopefully, not permanently). But I was so in love with my bike, I just had to ride it whenever possible. But soon after, the call of the countryside came back to me and a fixed gear bike with slick tires isn’t really suited for muddy forest tracks. Believe me…. So I bought a second-hand cyclo-cross bike and began to plan longer and longer rides (now, my beloved fixie stands proudly on my chimney).

Two brakes, right, better be safe than sorry (…even though the front tire exploded 30 cm from my left ear when I placed the bike)

Like many cyclists, my first century was as appealing as it was scary. I planned it to be the easiest as possible, turning North Belgium’s topography to my advantage, the Flanders’ flat roads leading to the North Sea are just 100 miles (160 km) with about 1000 ft in elevation (300 meters). I achieved it about a year ago and rewarded myself with 1,2 kg of excellent North Sea mussels (who said cliché?!)…

Not enough fries though…

At this point, I had become a complete bike geek. So much so, I planned to ride in Italy for a bit more than a month in June 2016. I managed to take a month and a half of unpaid leave and went to Fréjus (south of France, near Nice, Cannes,…) by carpooling. I took my camping gear, 1 extra bib and shirt, and too many little things… and just went on……

Too many things: 10kg of equipment including my 2kg bike lock…

Since then I understood why cyclists NEVER use a backpack…

I then rode following the sea towards Italy and continued like so until turning inland at Pisa. Then, Firenze, Siena, Assisi, but my main goal was to reach Monte Cassino. A steep hill where horrible battles took place during WWII. It’s history always fascinated me. After Monte Cassino, I rode my way back to Bormio (north of Italy, in the Alps) where another carpool was waiting for me. I stayed there 2 days and the guy who was going to drive me back to Belgium invited me to a charity race on the Stelvio. I hope this day will last long in my memory. Not because of the race in itself (the day before, I went up the Passo di Gavia from Bormio too, much less famous, but harder and more beautiful in my opinion), but because now I have a solid picture of what I never want to become: one of those miserable top cyclists of that race. Let me explain…

I began the race, literally, last (the sweep vehicle was 3 meters behind me!). I finished in the top 30 (I guess, but, honestly, I don’t really care) and we were more than 250 participants : the point here isn’t about bragging (the worst thing in cycling in my opinion, and, after all, it’s only a top 30… not much of a record!) but just to emphasize the fact that I overtook a lot of cyclists (so, around 200). And, each time I passed someone, as we weren’t rolling ultra fast (around 7% ascend all the way up), I tried, at least to nod, but generally to say hello. While the last third of the group wasn’t in it for the pride, the “hellos” were often responded to. But, gosh, how the guys in the last 7 kilometres ruined what was supposed to be the crux of my trip : the Stelvio for the last day of my Italian journey! You could tell just by their look they were pissed that a neophyte like me could pass them (I even kept two frame bags on my bike to take extra layers in order to have a couple of good beers comfortably at the top!!). Just two of these riders sent my “hello” back, the rest just ignored me.

I can’t understand what drives these guys: cycling is meant to be fun! It can also be a mean to push your limits, but, why does it have to be serious?? I just hope I’ll never take myself seriously, after all, it’s just cycling, so keep smiling…

Hopefully, around 2 km before the top (and it looks like a long way when you’re on it!), I saw one of the guys, middle-aged, smiling. He made my day.

Just had two well-deserved Morettis…

What’s next? Now, I’m training for the NorthCape 4000 race, you start at Firenze (Italy) and you make your way through 5 checkpoints to the North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe. About 4300 km, you make your own itinerary between each checkpoint and it’s fully self-supported (you can sleep in hotels if you like to, but you’ll have to book it yourself!). I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared sh*tless…

And that’s what I will write you about for the future: the preparation/training of a regular cyclist to an “ultra-cycling” race…

See you soon!

 


More From The Blog