Frank Lenz: Local Adventurer, Avid Photographer, Big-Wheeled Bike Enthusiast

Last Friday evening, I went searching for Frank Lenz, one of Pittsburgh’s most notable cyclists. To be fair, Lenz went missing almost 120 years ago, in Erzurum, Turkey, so I really didn’t have much hope of finding anything, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I headed over to the Brew House Art Gallery on the South Side, where David Herlihy, the author of The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance, was slated to give a talk about Lenz’s journey by bicycle around the world, his disappearance, and the adventures of William Sachtleben, another cyclist who had ridden around the world, and who was sent to find Lenz. Prior to Herlihy’s talk, I had not heard of Lenz or Sachtleben, but a worldwide cycling tour intrigued me, and plus, who doesn’t liked those old-timey, big-wheeled bikes?

Lenz and his companions, rocking the big-wheelers

Lenz and his companions, rocking the big-wheelers

Lenz was apparently a big fan. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to Pittsburgh and became an accountant by day, and a weekend warrior who captained the Allegheny Cycle Club. He organized and competed in his fair share of big-wheeled bike races, and pioneered the burgeoning field of cycle photography—an impressive feat, considering that cameras were just as cumbersome as bicycles at the time. Lenz developed a way to transport camera equipment on his back while riding, as well as a method of taking pictures of himself on his bicycle, by placing a trigger on the road, which would activate a camera on a leading car when his front tire (the big one) rolled over it.

Lenz used his growing portfolio to convince a magazine called Outing to fund his trip around the world. Outing agreed, on the condition that he give up the big-wheeler for the newer version, called a “safety bicycle,” which is similar to our modern one. Lenz reluctantly agreed, and, in May of 1892, he set off. Beginning at the Smithfield Street Bridge, Lenz rode for Washington, D.C. to pick up a passport, and then to New York City. He then crossed the U.S. in about five months, then sailed to Japan, and braved tough conditions in China and India before heading to Turkey. In May of 1894, almost two years after his departure, Lenz disappeared. Hoping to find him, Outing sent William Sachtleben, who had completed a similar journey, to Turkey. Sachtleben discovered that Lenz had apparently insulted a chief in nearby Kurdistan, who had ordered him murdered and his body buried by a riverbed. After some wrangling, the Turkish government paid Lenz’s mother $7,500 as a reparation for her lost son

Today, Lenz is commemorated with a sign on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the final leg of the Great Allegheny Passage, which connects Pittsburgh with Cumberland, Maryland, and which mirrors the path that Lenz took on the first leg of his now legendary trip around the world.

This sign can be found on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

This sign can be found on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Bike to Feed Families: Food Drive Delivered By Bike

This was sent to us by one of the organizers – not only do they have one fine looking event flier but they have put together a really neat event that shows off Pittsburgh and supports the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.


Bring your donations for the food bank and meet at the The Pump House (880 E. Waterfront Dr. Munhall, PA) then the group will hop on the bike trail and ride to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne.

The ride is suitable for all levels of cyclists.

The food bank is most in need of:

  • High fiber cereal
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna & salmon in water
  • Canned vegetables
  • Diapers & toilet tissue

The organizers have requested that you not bring items in glass.  This pretty poster was created by Joe Mruk.

Bike to Feed Families
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Meet @ 10am
The Pump House 880 E. Waterfront Dr. Munhall, PA
Facebook Event Link –

Bike to Feed Familes - Meets at the Pump House at the Waterfront

Sept 15 – Event & Raffle to Support Cyclist Who Was Attacked Last Week

I don’t know if you saw this story in the news last week or not – last Wednesday a cyclist was violently attacked by a driver on the South Side.  Please take a moment to read the story in the Post-Gazette here – they have released a description of the driver who has still not been identified.

The cyclist, Colin Albirght, has been in the hospital but he will be okay.  I have seen some photos of his injuries, I don’t think it is appropriate to share those with out talking with him first – but shocking is not strong enough of a word to describe the photos.

Some friends of the cyclist are organizing a raffle and event to raise some money to help with expenses and recovery.  This is where Pittsburgh is awesome – already numerous businesses and organizations have donated raffle prizes.

This is an opportunity to not only support Colin but to support the cycling community in Pittsburgh.  Bikes are a good thing for Pittsburgh – less people in cars is a good thing for Pittsburgh.  And the cycling community here has come together to do really good things for others in Pittsburgh – if you aren’t familiar with groups like Bike Pittsburgh, Free Ride, Flock of Cycles – please visit their websites and learn more about them.  I also just learned about the Positive Spin program from the MGR Foundation that is working to provide city youth with cycling mentors.

How you can help

Fundraiser for Pgh Cyclist Who Was Attacked Last Week

Storified by I heart PGH · Mon, Sep 10 2012 15:14:53

Colin Albirght Fundraiser
Saturday, September 15, 2012
OTB Bicycle Cafe, 2518 East Carson Street

More Details on the event from BikePittsburgh
The Bike Pittsburgh Blog Archives " Sat Sept 15: Fundraiser for South Side attack victim Colin Albright at OTBLocal cyclists are throwing a fundrasier for Colin Albright, the Pro Bikes mechanic who was brutally attacked in a road rage incident in …
Here is the link to OTB’s website if you need directions
OTB Bicycle CaféDeprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /var/ www/otbbicyclecafe/data/www/…

Win A New Bike!

just one of the many awesome prizes donated for this event – scroll down for more
Here is a picture of the KHS flight 100. City Bikes

More Awesome Raffle Prizes from…

Pittsburgh businesses are AMAZING at donating their time, money and product to support others. Even if you can’t attend the event – keep these folks in mind and shop locally!  If you would like to donate something to raffle send an email to and we will forward it over to them.
Commonwealth Press
Commonwealth Press: Screen Printing and Media Designcustom screen printing in pittsburgh, pa we are a small group of hardworking, fiercely independent, ink soaked, music addicted, code sp…
fundraiser for colin at OTB this sat: – read up/help out. @otbbicyclecafe @bikepghcommonwealthpress
East End Brewing
East End Brewing Company – BUY A GOOD FRIEND A GOOD …Pittsburgh microbrewer. Descriptions of beers, background, events, news, photo gallery, and bars where the beer is served.
Fat Heads’s Saloon
Fat Head's | Saloon, Brewery, Brewpub | Pittsburgh, PA and …Welcome to Fat Head's. Fat Head's consists of Fat Head's Saloon, located in Pittsburgh, PA, as well as Fat Heads's Brew…
OTB Bicycle Cafe
OTB Bicycle CaféDeprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /var/ www/otbbicyclecafe/data/www/…
Thick BikesCustom frame builder of freestyle, BMX and mountain bikes located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In The Blood Tattoo
In The Blood TattooWelcome to In The Blood Tattoo… … We are proud to provide clean and classic tattoos in a professional environment. In The Blood was e…
Just picked a gift certificate from In The Blood Tattoo for a tattoo up to $200 for the fundraiser. City Bikes
Free Ride Pittsburgh
Free Ride PittsburghFree Ride is a bicycle recycling and education facility focused on teaching the do -it-yourself approach to bicycle repair and maintenan…
Here is some swag from Free Ride! City Bikes
Iron City Bikes
Iron City BikesEmail: Follow us on. Recent Updates. Select Category, News, Racing, Uncategorized. © Iron City Bikes. Powered by…
Big Dog Coffee
Big Dog Coffee :: South Side Pittsburgh Coffee ShopToday, that bakery is now home to Big Dog Coffee. It's the first time this incredible structure has gone beyond the original bloodl…
Piper’s Pub
Piper's Pub – Food , Drink and Football ( Soccer ) from Scotland …Pipers Pub is a Pittsburgh PA pub. We have a full menu for brunch,lunch and dinner. Pipers Pub also has extensive beer & Scotch lists.
Smokin’ Joes
Best Beer Selection | Smokin' Joe's SaloonSmokin' Joe's Located In The Historic South Side Of Pittsburgh.
Cafee Davio
Caffe DavioWebsite for Caffe Davio, East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Carson Street Deli
Upscale, Casual Dinning – Pittsburgh, PA – Carson Street Deli …It is our goal to provide each of our customers the best upscale, casual, fast dining experience possible. We use only the freshest and…
REI Pittsburgh
Store – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Sporting Goods, Camping … – REIREI Pittsburgh is a premier outdoor gear and sporting goods store serving outdoor enthusiasts in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Cycling Organizations

Bike Pittsburgh
Bike Pittsburgh, Bicycle Advocacy, Safety and Community in …Fun Event! Friday, September 7: National Bike Challenge Wrap Party. Pittsburgh region finishes as largest Metro Area in the top 40. Pho…
BikePGH (BikePGH) on TwitterInstantly connect to what’s most important to you. Follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news.
Free Ride
Free Ride PittsburghFree Ride is a bicycle recycling and education facility focused on teaching the do -it-yourself approach to bicycle repair and maintenan…
Free Ride Pittsburgh PA – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Community Organization | FacebookFree Ride Pittsburgh PA – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Community Organization | Facebook
Flock of Cycles
Flock of Cycles | Riding safe and fun.This morning, at a Pittsburgh Cultural Trust press conference, the board for first night announced that Flock of Cycles will be part of a…
Flock of Cycles (Flockofcycles) on TwitterInstantly connect to what’s most important to you. Follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news.
MGR Foundation – Positive Spin
The MGR FoundationPositive Spin is an exciting health, wellness, and mentoring program offered by the MGR Foundation for Pittsburgh’s high school youth. Th…
MGR Foundation (MGRFoundation) on TwitterInstantly connect to what’s most important to you. Follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news.

Press coverage about the attack

South Side bicyclist stabbed in road rage incidentColin Albright was bicycling home Wednesday night when, he told police, he may have inadvertently cut off a motorist as he headed from th…
Cyclist’s Throat Slashed in Pittsburgh Attack " Urban VeloFrom WPXI: A man was rushed to the hospital after police said his throat was slashed during an attack in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Accordi…
Police release description of bicyclist’s attackerPittsburgh police provided a description of the man who repeatedly stabbed a cyclist Wednesday night on the South Side in an act that may…