sheldon brown died a few days ago, quite suddenly, by my way of thinking. i had no idea he was 63, but i often forget how old i am, so that's how that works. i never met sheldon, although we did--unwittingly--exchange emails two or three times over the years. "unwittingly" because to me he was just some guy who knew the answer to every question i ever asked him, and as he was available at my fingertips, that was pretty damned good.
but as time passed, and i became more curious about certain things and more adept at finding the answers myself, i grew to know and appreciate him more and more. i admire and respect folks with vast and to many folks obscure stores of knowledge and wisdom. and i really enjoy the subset of those who don't mind sharing that knowledge, wisdom and insight with others. but sheldon, while maybe not unique, certainly was a rare one, given his apparent passion for, among all these obvious things, disseminating these gems. sheldon was--and will remain--ubiquitous. if you google just about anything about bikes [common to obscure] a link to one of his many sites will appear. and the depth of the information is astounding. i suspect i'm not alone when i say that i can enter a site of his and come out two, three hours later, head spinning with new nuggets, and have no clue how i lost track of that time...and not really caring.
so thanks, seldon. i hope someone keeps your sites available; they're like carnegie libraries.
and like carnegie libraries, folks with knowledge stores akin to sheldon brown's while though rare, are not impossible to find.
i can think of a few right here in the central iowa area.
and like a really great library, it's a shame not to use it.
so here's my list of libraries [in no particular order, and certainly not in its entirety]: ronn ritz, now of skunk river cycles in ames, but who cut his teeth at michael's; micheal fatka, also still of ames; bill rumme, of bike world on merle hay; jeff bock, who lives just around the corner from the orphanage; ernie fisher, in west des moines.
like i said, this is just an off-the-top-of-my-scabby-head list, but it should be enough to give you and idea. i love talking to these guys, although, honestly, i don't think i've actually ever met ernie. might have, but i think if i had, i'd remember him. i like talking to people like him, and ronn, and so forth.
you guys should, too. the things you learn go well beyond bicycles, and that's why i ride 'em.
favorite ronn ritz quote discovered while trying to find a photo of him for this story: ronn was asked "how many bikes does a person need?" to which he replied "one more than he actually owns."