Bicycle tech guru to the masses Sheldon Brown has passed, and maybe the best tribute to his impact on the bike world is in the diversity of folks posting their thoughts. Velo Orange, Velonews, BR&IN, Gwadzilla, BikesnobNYC, bikeportland.org, and forums galore, plus his home at Harris Cyclery. But I'll never forget the etched flask.
I was lucky enough to meet him about a year or so ago. Looking back, I probably should have better expressed my appreciation for his website, which gave this normally cautious canadian cat the stones to hack apart and reassemble -- in increasingly crackpot configurations -- multiple bikes. I converted a vert dropout road bike to fixed, in spite of common wisdom and good sense, because Sheldon said it was possible, and he demonstrated the joy found in trying. I reworked a 70's Motobecane (yes, a true French bike, rife with non-conformist Gallic threads and metric-rich) into a fixed city bike (small case intended). I even dabbled with a left-side drivetrain. These monstrous rolling bastardizations of good engineering practice never would have soiled the streets without Sheldon's passion for sharing his life's work with random idiots like me who found him on the Internet.
There's a whole subset of folks who got into this industry because they saw a bit of that Sheldon Brown eccentricity in themselves, and I proudly count myself among them. I still haven't tried a BioPace chainring, though.
p.s. -- next time you're in the Boston area, go to Harris Cyclery in Newton, which is a really cool shop.