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Monday, February 04, 2008

Sheldon Brown (1944 - 2008)

Most anybody reading this blog won't know who Sheldon Brown was. He was a bike mechanic. But not an ordinary bike mechanic. If any worthwhile criteria exists for "best" bike mechanic, Sheldon Brown was the best bike mechanic, ever. And even that isn't saying much, not saying enough. Because it's really about touching people with your spirit. And that's something he did. He touched a huge community of people, validated their passion, and educated them about something they care about. Whether it's about bikes or chopped liver doesn't matter all that much. It's the humanity that came through that matters.

Sheldon gave me the confidence to build my own rims, to twist spokes, to lace up a 2-leading 2-trailing rim. Sheldon was my unofficial, virtual bike mechanic guru. Like so many (hundreds of thousands?) of cyclists, I never actually had any contact with him. But I read his stuff. And I got something from that. I have sincere appreciation for the effort he put into bike-sport. Sometimes I wish we had some monarchy, because this guy should have been knighted. Pure and simple, good guy. It saddens me that his cycle is over.

I say all this in stark relief to how I reacted to Heath Ledger's death. I've been embarrassed by my own lack of appropriate emotion to what is quite obviously a tragedy. Sometimes I wish I understood things better than I do, or at least could trust that my subconscious would supply me with normal behavior.

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