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« Memories | Main | NelsonVails »

Some late thoughts on the late Sheldon Brown

Like most people I never got to meet Sheldon Brown. After reading many online tributes yesterday, this morning I did a Google blog search and came up with around 3,700 blog entries on Sheldon’s passing.

Then I did another search for blogs on Heath Ledger, the young movie star who died two weeks ago, 148,000 blog entries. A ratio of 40 to 1; however, when you consider Heath Ledger was an internationally known movie star, and Sheldon was a bike mechanic; I still find this statistic pretty amazing.

Heath Ledger died two weeks ago and Sheldon Brown passed away last Sunday. The number of blogs on Ledger would have been considerably less just two or three days after his death.

When you also consider Heath Ledger’s death, and the drug related speculation that followed, was all over the media; whereas, the news of Sheldon’s passing broke on a few bike related websites.

The point I am making is this: You can measure a person’s greatness by the number of lives they touch; Sheldon Brown surely touched many lives.

The most common word used to describe Sheldon is “Guru.” It is a word that often gets misused, but in Sheldon’s case fits perfectly. There are leaders in this world, and then there are gurus.

When leaders speak, not everyone agrees; some don’t like the way they are being lead, and they protest and argue. However, when a guru speaks, people just listen in silence and nod their head in agreement.

Sheldon regularly posted on Bike Forums; he will be greatly missed there. His last posting on February 3rd. he helped someone who had a question on freewheel threading.

No one ever argued with Sheldon on Bike Forums, they just quietly nodded their heads in agreement.

This is rare, anonymous posters anywhere on the Internet are not opposed to telling someone they are “full of shit” when they disagree with something.

Leaders often demand respect, but in the end they have to earn it. Gurus never even ask for respect, they come by it naturally. A rare quality indeed; Sheldon Brown had that quality.

Reader Comments (8)

Well said.
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Marrock
A nice tribute. Thanks.
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter db
Interesting that only a few days after Sheldon left us the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi also passed on. Frankly, I'd prefer Sheldon as my personal guru.
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Anonymous
My buddy Justin emailed me today having noticed Sheldon's name on a couple of otherwise unrelated web sites. Who was that guy, he asked me.

Where would you start? I guess I'd start by suggesting that Justin read your post...

Thanks, Dave
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Maynard
Sheldon gave unselfishly of his knowledge, suffered fools, and kept his sense of humour. We've lost one of the good ones. Thanks Dave for your tribute; he will be missed.

I hope my epitaph is half as good.

Mark Petry
Bainbridge Island, WA
February 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter mpetry912
When Sheldon died, did you feel a temporary weakening of the good side of the "Force". He was one of the bike world's Jedi warriors.
February 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Moonlight Mark
Nice words, Dave. You are right; nobody ever questioned Sheldon's advice on Bike forums. I loved his webpages of old bikes and components. Lots of good advice.
February 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter bbattle
I had been to Sheldons 'Harris Cyclery' site many times for info, and about 2 years ago I emailed him about using a shimano wheel/cassette w/ campy shifters. I didn't really expect an answer as I know he gets LOTS of emails on a daily basis. But lo and behold I DID get an answer (yes, you CAN use that combo and vice versa..the actual diff is very small in spacing btw). I was suprise and touched by his resopnse, to me...a guy he had NEVER heard of on the other side of the country. And even though I never met him, I feel I knew him somewhat thru his writing, and Dave, I think you nailed it with the "Guru" title (here is the link to his 'humour' page btw...trust me, his writing is PRICELESS! I just HOWL over the 'Real Man' seat! Give it a browse and meet the man for yourself! http://sheldonbrown.com/humor/index.html) His passing surely is a sad day for cycling. We are doing an 80 miler this Sat, and I will pay my respects to him out on the road.
February 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Matt
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