(Editor's note: John Waller is a longtime employee at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness Store in Farmingdale, Maine, where he sells and services bicycles and fitness equipment. He is also the content coordinator of the company's website. Speaking from personal experience, John really knows bikes.)
Name: John Waller
Do you remember your first bike?
I'm not sure if it was my first bike or not, but the first one I do remember was a yellow Huffy BMX bike. I rode that bike all around the grounds at Kents Hill School for years until I decided I wanted a 10-speed. My parents would not let me have two bikes, so I had to make a choice. In hindsight, I probably should have stuck with the BMX bike. I rode the new Ross 10-speed like it was a BMX and destroyed two wheels. It was after the second one I learned that if I wrecked any more I'd be responsible for paying for them.
What is it you enjoy about riding a bicycle?
What's not to enjoy! Because of my schedule, I typically ride alone and I'm good with that ... it's peaceful even when cranking my favorite playlist. I love taking in the beauty of my surroundings, on the road and in the woods. There is something heavenly when the conditions are just right; when fat-biking in the woods after a fresh snowfall. I love the feeling of accomplishment after conquering a challenging hill climb. Riding is my favorite go-to activity for stress relief.
Rim vs. disc brakes? And why?
I would say 100 percent disc on mountain bikes because they are just so much more effective in all conditions. In my opinion, in many areas, disc brakes are not required on a road bike. Where we live and ride in Maine there are no long sustained mountains that require constant braking power, so they're not as necessary. The way things are going right now you may not have a choice in a few years. More and more bikes, at even the lower-priced recreational levels, are now coming with disc brakes.
If someone is looking to purchase a bike, what are the important points to keep in mind?
What are your current and future goals you'd like to achieve with your new bike? How do you intend to use it? What is your overall budget? The answers to these questions will guide you to the right bike for your needs, riding style and your budget. Overall budget is important to consider because many new riders are not aware of the available and, in many cases, necessary accessories to go with their new bike that will enhance their experience and help keep them safe while riding.
Do you have a favorite place to ride in the Augusta area?
For mountain biking, the trails at Bond Brook are my favorite place to ride in the Augusta area. In the winter, my go-to place is the Res in Hallowell for a loop that goes out by Maple Hill Farm.
In your role as a mechanic, what would be your top tip for bicycle riders?
Keep your bike clean, especially your drivetrain and cables. A clean bike is a happy bike, and a happy bike is fun to ride!