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

The Hills Are Alive…

Canton Avenue, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's B...
Image via Wikipedia

not with the sound of music, but with the sound of cyclists and Rick Sebak brought some video cameras along.  Tonight (Wednesday, January 26) and I am sure many other times because these things do get repeated – Rick Sebak’s show Its Pittsburgh takes a look at The Dirty Dozen.  The Dirty Dozen is an “unofficial” bicycle race that goes something like 58 miles up and down 13 of the steepest streets in Pittsburgh, including Canton Avenue, arguably the steepest public street in the world).

Make sure you check out the The Dirty Dozen website here for a complete history of the race, winners and temperature on race day – amazing that it has only snowed during the race in 1983.

If you would like to watch this with other cyclists – there is a screening party tonight at OTB Bicycle Cafe with drink specials too, screening is at 7:30 but the party starts at 6:30.  More info at BikePGH and OTB Facebook Page.

(h/t to @PatrickK for the heads up on this screening)

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Top Google Searches in Pittsburgh

So what are Pittsburghers really searching for online? Over the past year, I have been following the idea of search a little more closely. I know that lots of people come to IheartPGH looking for more info about Big Jim’s In the Run – I was a little confused by how this could be so popular because the post about Big Jim’s is from 2006. Fortunately, I was sharing this story with someone who watches the Food Network and apparently there was an episode of Diners, Drive-in and Dive’s where they visited Big Jim. Check out the great photos of dinner at Big Jim’s from awesome Pittsburgh food bloggers Joe and Betsy.

I have also been upgrading the search here at IheartPGH – thanks to a nifty tool called Lijit – you can now get more info from the searches and I can learn more about what the searches are about (and the folks at Lijit are super nice too – they even fixed some formatting errors on my site).

But today’s post on HyperLocal Blogger (a great blog about local blogs) points out the Google Zeitgeist page and the top searches by city. Here are the top searches for Pittsburgh from the past year:

Google Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Pittsburgh, PA

  1. carnegie library oakland
  2. hofbrauhaus
  3. rivers casino
  4. cmu directory
  5. ccac blackboard
  6. kdka news pittsburgh
  7. cmu blackboard
  8. cmu hub
  9. parkvale online banking
  10. port authority pittsburgh

Mr. Rogers, Nancy Reagan and Jimmy Carter – Pictures of the Pittsburgh Quilt

Official White House photograph of Nancy Reaga...Image via WikipediaWhat do Mr. Rogers, Nancy Reagan and Jimmy Carter have in common? They all signed the Pittsburgh Quilt along with Ronald Reagan, Mr. McFeely and 30,000 other Pittsburghers back in 1988. (Never did I think I would have a reason to write about Nancy Reagan on IheartPGH).

Over the summer I wrote about the Pittsburgh Quilt which had been lost in the storage archives for the past 19 years. While I was writing about the quilt, which I had also forgotten about I couldn’t find one picture of it on the internet. So I headed out to the show to see for myself and to take some pictures so that it would have a home on the internet. The quilt was more impressive than I had imagined and I posted a few pictures from the Quilt Show here.

I have finally uploaded the rest of my pictures from the day to Flickr. Click here to see the pictures on Flickr or watch the slide show below.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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