Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sheldon Brown, 1944-2008


Sheldon Brown is gone. I get the feeling that I wasn't alone in thinking of Captain Bike on the ride home last night. I even hit the downhills hard in the soggy darkness, remembering tales of the big fella's grinning descents.

There are people in any age who set the standard, who seem to have figured it out while the rest of us are busy fiddling with all the new knobs. Sheldon had this internet age figured out before most of us bloggers could reach a keyboard. It's the reason that everyone writes Sheldon and not Mr. Brown, even though most of us never met him. He lived an open life and seemed to keep no secrets. His magic lay in revealing everything to us on the internet, answering every email thoughtfully, but somehow managing to also live a full life worth reading about.

I think Sheldon lived a cumulative life. Every experience along the way seemed to be adding up to something, like each new entry in his bicycle glossary. While most of us would say, "I'm glad I moved on from those heavy old 3-speeds!" Sheldon would say, "I have fond memories of those, and I still love to ride mine on occasion. And, have you tried a modern internal gear hub?" With Sheldon, there were no dead ends, just new links. As a good life, so a good website.

I guess Sheldon solved the internet. Just like any new technology, it's the living that matters, the rest is just (well organized) details.