Sheldon Brown passed from this world February 3rd, 2008. I never met him or spoke with him. Yet somehow, upon reading that first post to the iBOB mail list, I felt as if an old friend was taken from me. This news, of a man I did not know, left a lump in my throat and mist in my eyes. It couldn’t be. I searched frantically – wikipedia, the Harris Cyclery site, anything Google would return – for some sort of confirmation. Nothing. Then another post to iBOB. And then the ICEBIKE list. And the touring list. Someone had updated wikipedia within a few minutes of my first look. And finally, the Harris site confirmed what I hoped wouldn’t be true. Sheldon Brown had died.
Sheldon Brown’s site was among the first I found last year when searching for information about building up my old beater bike. It seemed like everything I could possibly want to know was there, and then some. I had a peek into the life of a wonderful man who gave more than he took and created more than he consumed. Articles about his life, his bikes, his photography, politics, family, you name it. It was all there and it was readable to a numb skull like me.
Very few days go by without referencing sheldonbrown.com. Mr. Brown’s writings convinced me to try building a fixed-gear bicycle. The gearing for my new touring bike was chosen with the help of his online gear calculator. And when I sent my stupid technical questions off into cyberspace, Sheldon was often among the first to respond.
I hope that Sheldon’s family can find solace in the fact that so many lives are better because of his charity. He’ll be dearly missed but not forgotten, and we should all strive to leave behind a legacy like Sheldon Brown’s – one that continues to give well beyond our short stay in this world.
I’d like to think that Sheldon’s not really gone. He and Igor are just out for one long, last ride. Rest in peace.