I fired up my blog reader tonight to hear from six different bike-blogging heroes across the country that Sheldon Brown has died - the gleeful know-it-all, tinkerer, bike mechanic extraordinaire, and keeper of the esoterica at sheldonbrown.com. Even though I never met him, I'm feeling, like a lot of people are I'm sure, like I've lost a teacher.
He taught me, among other things I can think of off the top of my head - how to turn a 10-speed into a fixie, how to overhaul a headset, how to lace and build a wheel, how to lace a wheel four leading four trailing, how to lace a wheel half-radial, what parts would fit my wacky old french bike, why i needed to to put a un-72 bottom bracket into phil retaining rings to keep my old Raleigh going, how to pull my stronglight cranks, how to unstick a stuck bottom bracket fixed cup with just a carriage bolt and some nuts, how to figure out bike gearing in gear inches or in gain ratios....
And his umpteen personal bikes are an inspiration for tinkerers and why-the-hell-notters of all stripes everywhere. In high school, I stuck two bikes together into a tandem with some rope, but that didn't work, so I found somebody with a welding torch. I set this one up as a three-speed fixed gear, and I put the crank on goofyfoot, just because. This one has fifty-seven speeds. This one has two sets of handlebars, with brakes on each. Yes, do try this at home!
The world will be smaller without him.