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The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance Paperback – Bargain Price, May 4, 2011
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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. He 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, 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.
A Look Inside The Lost Cyclist
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From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
He began his formal launch of the around-the-world tour on May 15, 1892 from Pittsburgh, setting out with a 57 pound Overman bicycle, 13 pounds of camera gear and 25 pounds of other equipment. He headed eastwards and in New York met worked with the editor of Outing to garner maximum publicity before beginning the trip proper on June 4, heading west and crossing the United States in five months. He was 25 years old.
Although Frank Lenz may have been slight in stature, weighing 145 pounds, he was clearly, as one witness is quoted in the book as saying, "he was quite a novel person-one possessed of great pluck, energy and determination...Read more ›
I'm pleased to report that The Lost Cyclist is a meticulously researched, fast-paced, supremely readable book that had me staying up later than I'd intended several nights in a row just so I could keep reading.
Focusing on what today is a mere footnote in cycling history, the book is really the story of two--even three--bicyclists whose exploits gripped the nation over a century ago, and only one of whom was actually lost. Frank Lenz, of the title, was an accountant and promising bicycle racer in the era of high-wheelers, but for a variety of reasons, never realized his potential. Inspired by the accounts of Thomas Stevens, who had traveled by bike on three continents and written about and sketched what he saw, Lenz aspired to cycle around the world too, only he would undertake his trip on a "safety bicycle," the new-fangled design that had two wheels of equal size and, in his case, inflatable tires. And he would travel with a camera, taking photographs of the sights.
Ambitious, entrepreneurial, intrepid and naive, Lenz successfully solicited the support of Outing magazine to underwrite his dream. He started in New York, then pedaled across the U.S. to San Francisco, where he hopped a ship to Japan and then to China. Embarking on the Asian portion of his itinerary, he encountered harsh conditions and xenophobia, particularly in China, but made his way to Burma, through India, Persia and finally to Turkey, which was experiencing considerable unrest on the eve of the Armenian massacres. And it was there that he disappeared.Read more ›
Herlihy's writing of the dawn of bicycle racing and foreign treks via two-wheels was quite enlightening. The story of Frank Lenz's journey was spotty due to the limited communications from him due to his locations. And, of course, much of the story of his disappearance must be conjecture.
There are different styles of writing here. Much is reportorial and many times doesn't really capture the emotion of the people in the story. Herlihy lost several opportunities to draw us closer to the locations described.
The photographs are great and significantly add to the book. The few maps included, however, do far too little to graphically show not only the locations, but also the great distances and geographical challenges Lenz and the others faced. Since those challenges were a major part of the book, more graphic information would have really added to the story.
The epilogue is mainly too philosophical and of little help in closing the story. Hindsight is, proverbially, twenty-twenty and postmortems are of necessity full of speculation. These what-ifs did not really add to the book.
Another negative was the continued use of certain buzz words. Too often I felt I was reading a story by a sports writer. I love sports, but their overuse of the same descriptive words is legend. After so many instances of 'globe girdler' and similar by Herlihy, I was ready to scream. The four stars are for the story being told. The writing, though, wasn't up to that level.
This should be of interest to readers with an interest in many fields - bicycling, travel, history, etc. The negatives don't outweigh the reading this little known story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a combination of a series of adventure stories about long-distance cyclists, a who-do-it focusing on the death of the lost cyclist, and an interesting perspective on the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by DaddyZ
Amazing writer. This is a fantastic story. He wrote an article for the first person to ride a motorcycle around the world also. Read morePublished 7 months ago by TONY Masters
This was an unexpectedly enjoyable read. I purchased it for a friend who was going on a long bike trip, but of course I had to read it first- learned a lot about cycling and the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Somebody's Mother
I had the unexpected surprised of finding a mention of a family member in the book.Published 9 months ago by Ellie Evans
It is hard to imagine how a story this intriguing has not become more widespread a tale. A young American catches an early wave of interest in cycling and decides to make a solo... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Shopping Spice