Well, I don't know how it is that I'm so far behind the curve on this one, but I've just learned of Sheldon Brown's death, four months ago, of a heart attack, and am deeply saddened by the news.
To say that Sheldon Brown was a walking encyclopedia of the technical knowledge and lore of cycling would be a ridiculous understatement. Sheldon was nothing less than a guru. That he was wacky and eccentric, endlessly entertaining and generous, and enough of a lunatic to ride his bike through the dead of winter in Massachusetts only serve to illustrate further what a unique and special person the cycling community lost back in February. Sheldon had long been employed as a mechanic at the Harris Cyclery in West Newton when he established their online presence in the world wide web's salad days of the mid-nineties. What began as a bike shop's webpage grew into an enormous resource which gained Sheldon a far more enormous cult following. In recent years, he would receive as many as 1,000 e-mails a day! Despite this incredible amount of correspondence, when I e-mailed him last year with a bottom bracket related question, he answered my inquiry not just promptly, but at considerable length. Unfortunately, he had all too much time to answer his mail by then, as primary progressive multiple sclerosis had robbed him of his ability to stay upright on two wheels (although he did manage to soldier on for a time with a recumbent tricycle).
Not merely a tireless advocate of two-wheeled locomotion, Sheldon Brown was also a well travelled wanderer, a philosopher savant, an inveterate basement engineer, a gifted amateur photographer... but above all, he was the personification of grace and passion and generosity. He is irreplaceable. Sheldon, you will be sorely missed!