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<a href="" target="_blank">Nice story</a> published in today's Boston Globe.<br><br><b><span style="font-size:x-large;">Homespun wisdom</span></b><br><b><span style="font-size:large;">Beloved Newton bike-shop mechanic, cyber-sage Sheldon Brown will be missed</span></b><br><br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><span style="font-size:xx-small;">Harriet Fell was hugged by her two children, George and Tova, in Newton on Tuesday amid part of her husband’s collection of bicycles. (Globe Staff Photo / Joanne Rathe)</span><br><br><span style="font-size:xx-small;">By Ross Kerber</span><br><span style="font-size:xx-small;">Globe Staff / February 8, 2008</span><br><br>
To his legion of local customers, Sheldon Brown was an outgoing Newton bike-shop mechanic who could fix just about anything on wheels. To a worldwide readership, Brown was a sage in cyberspace, using his widely read Web pages to hold forth on everything from the merits of leather saddles to the care of old English three-speed hubs.<br><br>
When he died earlier this week of an apparent heart attack at 63, the news shook not just the close-knit cycling community in Massachusetts, but also readers of <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#45569C;"></span></a> far and wide.<br><br>
"He was the spine of the industry," said Richard Fries, a charity ride organizer in Boston. "He represented all those mechanics out there who have to work on the new stuff as it comes out."<br><br>
Brown's homespun wisdom on his personal website was interwoven with pages he created for the West Newton shop where he worked, Harris Cyclery Inc., just a few blocks from his home. The websites evolved from a hobby to become some of the best-known cycling sites and the first public source of news of his passing when shop employees posted a note after his death early Monday.<br><br>
The Web pages and the hundreds of e-mails Brown sent daily with free advice to fellow cyclists made him so well known that he was picked as a featured speaker at the bicycle industry's annual trade show in Las Vegas in September, along with Tour de France winners like Greg LeMond.<br><br>
On a blog this week, show marketing manager Rich Kelly described how he jumped at the chance to put Brown on a closed-circuit television program. "Sheldon would make the perfect guest, I thought to myself," Kelly wrote. "He's interesting, opinionated, [and] loved by thousands of cyclists."<br><br>
The websites also drove a booming e-commerce business for the shop, which owner Aaron Harris estimates brings in more than half of its revenue. Harris said he never tried to put Brown under contract, as many friends urged, since Brown told him he loved the work.<br><br>
"Everything we did was on a handshake, and you don't see that anymore today," Harris said.<br><br>
Bearded and heavyset, Brown was diagnosed last year with multiple sclerosis that curbed his riding, a difficult situation for someone so identified with two-wheeled transportation that he went by the nickname captbike on e-mail.<br><br>
Tom Quinn, Harris Cyclery's e-commerce manager, said Brown never complained about the illness and seemed to get as much enjoyment from a recumbent tricycle he could still ride.<br><br>
According to details he posted, Brown spent his early years in North Tarrytown, N.Y. After his father, an engineer, died in a plane crash in 1953, his mother moved the family to Marblehead, where she was an antiques dealer and later a librarian.<br><br>
Brown described tinkering with bicycles as a child and building them from parts at the town dump to sell for spending money. A longtime friend, John Allen of Waltham, met Brown working in a Cambridgeport bike shop in 1972.<br><br>
Soon after, Brown was among a group that began The Bicycle Repair Collective in Cambridge, a freethinking enterprise that has evolved into what is today Broadway Bicycle School near Central Square.<br><br>
Allen recalls Brown describing how he was "purged by Maoists" who had taken over the collective's leadership and then took a job at a Boston store repairing cameras, another deep interest. He kept riding, including one 1979 outing sponsored by the Charles River Wheelmen, a local club, where he met his future wife.<br><br>
According to Allen, Harriet Fell first noticed Brown for the difficult-to-ride, fixed-gear bike he was peddling. Brown, meanwhile, noticed the rare British hand-built frame Fell was riding.<br><br>
Despite their mismatched credentials - Brown never finished college, while Fell had a doctorate in math - they were married in 1979 and soon had two children, Tova and George.<br><br>
Fell, now a computer science professor at Northeastern University, said that when Brown lost his camera-repair job around 1980, she suggested he return to bicycle repair. He worked at several area shops, including Spoke 'n' Wheel in Waltham and Wheelworks in Belmont, before joining Harris around 1990.<br><br>
Brown told the Globe in 2002 how he became involved with online discussion groups in the early 1990s, then branched into Web work for Harris that combined content for the shop with information about his own interests.<br><br>
For instance, one page lists details of Brown's personal collection of 40-odd bicycles, ranging from mountain bikes to a 1954 Rudge four-speed with steel pedals so sharp, Brown wrote, that "anyone who tries to steal it will likely suffer severe injury!"<br><br>
Fell and Quinn said they will maintain the Web pages. "The business goes on, as Sheldon would have it," Quinn wrote in e-mail.<br><br>
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. March 2, at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, in West Newton.

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That's very nice obit. I can only hope mine is 1/10th as nice.<br><br>
He will be missed by so many.
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