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

David Herlihy


Frank Lenz

Lenz was one of the foremost cyclists of his time. He quickly gained respect for his speed and endurance on the high wheel. Even though he raced on a heavy model, he was able to challenge the best racers. However, Lenz quickly realized that he enjoyed traveling more than racing. His second passion was photography. He was quite ingenious and devised a system for taking delayed photos, a system that allowed him to photograph himself. When Lenz secured a sponsor to cycle round the world, he immediately set out. Lenz’s trip was ostensibly to promote human harmony and self-education, but Herlihy points out that Lenz hoped to launch a career as an adventurer.

Lenz’s adventure began well: He cycled west from Pittsburgh and crossed the ocean to enter Asia through Japan, a country that he enjoyed. He next entered China through Shanghai and headed south through the mainland. Lenz quickly learned to eat using chopsticks, but was attacked in more than one village. He is considered to have escaped China with his life. Although Lenz’ reports in Outing praised Japan, he was critical of the Chinese. He next entered Burma, which was at this time a part of the British Empire. Lenz hired locals to carry his bicycle for him as he made his way through the jungles. Lenz traveled through India before finally entering Turkey in 1894, making his way to Erzurum. He was never heard from again and his body was never found.

William Lewis Sachtleben

William Lewis Sachtleben and his companion Thomas Gaskell Allen Jr. traveled around the world shortly before Lenz, finishing in 1892. In comparison to Lenz, Sachtleben and Allen had an easier journey in so far as they were rarely attacked and ultimately survived their journey. To some extent, their success can be explained by their reliance on diplomats to provide them with protection. Their decision to cross China through the Gobi Desert proved safer than the more populous and divided southern parts of China.

When Lenz disappeared, Sachtleben was hired by James Henry...

(The entire section is 840 words.)