Editor's note: Steve has been a staff member at Mathieu's Cycle & Fitness for a number of years. He understands how bicycles work and perform, but, more importantly, he loves riding them and passes along that passion and enthusiasm to others. I did the recent Frost Heave Fondo with Steve and his friend John.
Name: Steve Hall
Town where you live: Winslow, Maine
Tell us about your first bike and where you went exploring with it.
My first bike as an adult was a Trek 930. It was my first dive into mountain biking. It was a fully rigid bike, but it had a "flex stem," which was a very early attempt at a front suspension. This was the bike that got me fully addicted to cycling as an adult. I traveled a lot to Gorham, New Hampshire, at the time and did a group ride every Wednesday night. It was epic! Great trails, great people, and always a memorable ride with food and a beer afterward.
Rim vs. disc brakes. Your preference? And why?
I prefer rim brakes on my road bike for the weight savings vs. disc. But I prefer disc on my gravel and mountain bikes for the increased stopping power.
I know you utilize an indoor trainer throughout the winter. Talk about the benefits, but also address how you keep from getting bored. That is, if you do.
The funny thing is that I am in better cycling condition in April than I am at the end of the summer after riding outside. I always use Zwift on my trainer. It is a wonderful program. It is incentive-based and keeps my interest. I always want to get stronger and get to the next level. There are group rides that are competitive if you want them to be. The climbs on Zwift are challenging; we really do not have mountain climbs like that around here. I tend to ride harder on Zwift than I do outside. I usually do not get too bored, but I'm ready to get outside by April. I typically ride the trainer from November to April.
Off-road vs. road riding? Would you characterize Maine as a bike-friendly state?
That is tough question. I love both road riding and off-road. I bought a gravel bike a couple of years ago and love that too. I would consider parts of Maine bike-friendly. The secondary roads in Central Maine are good for riding, mainly due to the lower traffic. I would love to see more bike lanes and less distracted driving. I am cautious when I ride my bike on the road. I also ride with a flashing headlight and taillight. I have found this to help considerably.
Why do you enjoy riding a bicycle?
I think for me it is the solitude. Cycling for me is like moving meditation. I always feel better physically and mentally after a ride. I also enjoy the camaraderie of a good group ride. If the dynamics of the group are right, this is tough to beat.
Do you have a favorite place to ride?
Most of my road riding is done in Vassalboro. I love the hills and the roads are in great shape. I also have found very light traffic there and people are courteous. For mountain biking, I would say it is a tie between Gorham, New Hampshire, and Carrabassett Valley in Maine.
As a bike mechanic, what would be your number one tip for any cyclist in caring for their two-wheeled machine?
I would have to say my top tip is keeping the bike clean, especially the drivetrain. Everything lasts so much longer and works better when it is clean and properly lubricated.