The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance

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This “fascinating” story of a nineteenth-century mystery “should appeal to most lovers of history, as well as to bicycling enthusiasts. Strongly recommended” (Library Journal).

In the late 1880s, Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh, a renowned high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist, dreamed of cycling around the world. He finally got his chance by recasting himself as a champion of the downsized “safety-bicycle” with inflatable tires, the forerunner of the modern road bike that was about to become wildly popular. In the spring of 1892 he quit his accounting job and gamely set out west to cover twenty thousand miles over three continents as a correspondent for Outing magazine. Two years later, after having survived countless near disasters and unimaginable hardships, he approached Europe for the final leg.
Lenz never made it. His mysterious disappearance in eastern Turkey sparked an international outcry and compelled Outing to send William Sachtleben, another larger-than-life cyclist, on Lenz’s trail. Bringing to light a wealth of information, David Herlihy’s gripping narrative captures the soaring joys and constant dangers accompanying the bicycle adventurer in the days before paved roads and automobiles. This untold story culminates with Sachtleben’s heroic effort to bring Lenz’s accused murderers to justice, even as troubled Turkey teetered on the edge of collapse.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ChrisNewton - LibraryThing

Much as I was obstructed by Herlihy's sort of quaint 1890s prose style, I eventually did get caught up in this remarkable story, set in a world I knew absolutely nothing about. First, an 1890s America ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - hhornblower - LibraryThing

A fairly interesting read that just falls apart in the end. Rather than just end with what was last known about Frank Lenz, the author descends into a series of conjecture about the wheelman's fate. Deeply unsatisfying. Read full review


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About the author (2010)

David V. Herlihy is the author of Bicycle: The History, winner of the 2004 Award for Excellence in the History of Science. A leading authority in his field, he has been interviewed by numerous television, radio, and newspaper personalities in the United States and abroad, and his work has appeared in a wide variety of general-interest and specialty magazines.

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