Literature Program

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Free admission

Talking Leaves...Books presents

David Herlihy

The Lost Cyclist

A Reading & Book Signing by
David Herlihy
Author of The Lost Cyclist
(2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Cyclist and author David Herlihy—who penned the definitive Bicycle: The History a couple of years ago—makes a Buffalo stop on the tour for his brand new book, The Lost Cyclist: the Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and his Mysterious Disappearance (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.) The new book's eponymous "Lost Cyclist" is Frank Lenz, whose attempt to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle ended with his mysterious disappearance in 1894 in Turkey. Herlihy will read from the book and sign copies in a free event to be held in Hallwalls' Cinema that is sure to appeal to all cyclists and cycling buffs, as well as readers of adventure stories, murder mysteries, travel writing, and history.

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.

The local connection: in 1888 Lenz participated in a grueling 100-mile road race from Erie, PA to Buffalo riding a high-wheeler and nearly won. He also passed through Buffalo while crossing the U.S. on his world tour, and was warmly received by the local wheelmen and wheelwomen, a not insignificant number at that time.

David V. Herlihy is the author of Bicycle: The History. His work has been featured on NPR, Voice of America, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, and Historic Preservation. In 1999 Herlihy received the McNair History Award from the Wheelmen, the preeminent American association of antique bicycle collectors.

For more information please contact Jonathon Welch at Talking Leaves, 716-837-8554, or email

Some publications related to this event:
June, July and August, 2010 - 2010