Editor's note: Jonathan came on board this year as a new staff member at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness. He works mainly at our Oakland shop, but occasionally does pull duty in Farmingdale. Even though he's "from away," he is a really nice person and he knows bicycles and how they work.
Name: Jonathan Bourne Age: 43 Town you live in: Belgrade
Tell us about the first bike you remember having.
My first bike that I can remember — aside from my Big Wheels — was a black BMX that I got for my eighth birthday. I cannot remember the brand, but I loved the bike and have a vivid memory of showing it off to my friends.
You've lived and cycled in both California and Wisconsin. Describe the riding in those two states.
I grew up in California's Central Valley, which is a hotbed for road cyclists. The country roads go on forever. I did a lot of mountain biking in California as well. It was fun and challenging, and you could also drive a short distance to the coast or the mountains for more scenic and challenging terrain. It was a road biker's paradise.
Southern Wisconsin also has beautiful riding, especially in the more topographical Driftless region. There are some smaller mountain biking areas similar to central Maine, but the northern region is truly epic. The Cable trails are my all-time favorites.
I think I've seen a road bike and mountain bike on your car. Which type of riding do you prefer?
As I've gotten older, I've started to feel less comfortable road riding. Especially on the rural Maine roads with minimal shoulders. Luckily, central Maine is going through a huge growth of mountain bike trails. With how great the mountain biking is, I don't see myself switching back any time soon. I think most of my road riding will be touring, benefit rides, or mixed road and gravel.
Rim vs. disc brakes?
I'm a full-on disc brake supporter. The added security of consistent stops is ideal. I've had many instances of long descents with rim brakes (road and mountain) that had some sketchy moments of brake fade. On top of that, it's much cheaper to replace rotors than rims. My mother is in her mid-70s and moved to hydraulic disc brakes on her road bike. She feels much safer now because braking requires less hand strength.
Would you consider Maine a bike-friendly state? Any suggestions for making it better?
I grew up in Davis, California, and lived in Madison, Wisconsin, which are two of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so my expectations may be unusually high. Both cities have bike lanes on nearly all streets, as well as greenways and off-street multi-use paths.
Maine definitely has a strong cycling culture, but it doesn't have the dedicated push to create safer riding conditions that I've experienced in other places. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is doing a great job of educating the public and bringing awareness. I hope to see this translate into infrastructure improvements geared toward riders.
As a bike mechanic, what would be your number one tip to customers for maintaining their bike?
I would have to say that keeping a clean bike is the best way to maintain it. Dirt and grime lead to premature wear of nearly every part of the bike and can mask other issues. A regular scrub and hose down is important. This includes the chain, which is often the cause of grime buildup. I recommend cleaning the outside of the chain with a rag as needed to remove any grit and grime. This won't affect the chain lubrication since only the inside of the chain rollers need to remain lubed.
And lastly ... why do you ride a bike?
I wish I had some profound reason for riding a bike, but it just comes down to it being a really fun sport. It's a great excuse to travel to new places and it's an easy way to meet new people. The fact that it is exercise is an added bonus, but not what drives me to ride. I'm thankful that I get to ride in such a beautiful state like Maine.