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Profile: Jon Jennings

Editor's note: Today's Q&A profile features my good friend, Jon, the person who I ride the most miles with here in Maine.

Name: Jon Jennings

Age: 69

Residence (town): Hallowell, Maine, center of the biking universe

Occupation: Mason contractor and chocolatier

Why do you ride?

Biking is a mood-altering activity. If I am down, it picks me up; if I am hyper, it calms me. If I stay in shape, I can live longer and, therefore, bike longer. If I bike until I don't think, then I can think clearly.

Jon at last year's Northwoods Gravel Grind in Rangeley, Maine.

Do you remember your first bike? What is your favorite bike now?

My first bike was a JC Higgins three-speed. My favorite bike is a 2007 Trek Madone 20-speed with Ultegra components that have all been replaced with Dura-Ace shifters, 11-30 Ultegra cassette, a Terry carbon-fiber seat, 50-34 Ultegra crank and ROL wheels.

Three years after I bought this bike, I heard a loud ping when I was biking with you on Route 201. At first I couldn't see anything wrong, then I found a small hole in the carbon-fiber seat stay. Trek would not replace the frame because a foreign object hit it — a tiny pebble. I was faced with a dilemma; spend $2,000 for a new frame — I originally paid $2,000 for this entire slightly used bike — or find a way to fix it.

I went online and found on YouTube some videos on fixing carbon fiber. I bought a kit on eBay for $35 and attempted to fix it myself. My first try was terrible, so I took it off and cleaned off the epoxy. I had sanded the paint off, so I was on bare carbon fiber. For my second attempt, I coated the carbon fiber with epoxy first and then cut it. Carbon fiber is very loose and frayed dry. When coated with epoxy, it stayed together and allowed me a clean cut.

I wrapped it around the seat stay, covered it with wax paper and then used stretchy electrical tape to tighten the fix, then I punched 50 pin pricks into the tape to allow the excess epoxy to escape after it set. I cleaned it off, sanded it smooth and painted it. It's been 25,000 miles and it's good as new.

You had shoulder surgery this winter. In May, you and I are participating in the Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City. What are you doing to get ready?

I'm riding the sit-down trainer three days a week and walk as much as I can. I can start riding a bike in late March and will start slow and work up to longer rides as my strength progresses and my shoulder has full rotation and is strong enough to hold me.

You literally ride thousands of miles each season. Do you think Maine is a bike-friendly state?

Mostly. Wherever there are congested areas and people compete for space, it gets dicey. Rural roads have less traffic, but  fewer shoulders.

We ride roads that have little traffic, but you have to look out for the sun in the eyes at first light and at dusk. You have to watch out for drivers not expecting them to see you. Bike riding is a dangerous sport and you have to anticipate drivers opening doors, turning quickly — not seeing you.

We were riding one Sunday morning with almost no traffic and a driver passed us, honked his horn and stopped and shouted at us. My buddy said, "That guy is having a bad day, let's leave that to him." And I thought just because someone (got upset with us) doesn't mean I have to get upset over his stupidity and we let that interaction dissipate.

Do you have a favorite route or event ride?

Yes. The back roads to Brunswick from Hallowell and back with lots of intense hills and little traffic — mostly on routes 201 and 24, with diversions on other roads along with way.

And finally, any tips for others on bike safety, bike maintenance, etc.?

Use a front flasher and back flasher for lights — you can't have too many, but you can have too few. Drivers need (to see) serious strobes to understand that there is a person on a bike when they might otherwise be distracted! Also, as far as maintenance, lightly clean your bike each time you ride, then a big clean once a month.

Click to read "Friendships" in cycling.

Know a cyclist who would be an interesting person to profile? Please drop me an email under the Contact heading and we might make them a blog "star."

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