Friday, September 06, 2013

Pittsburgh and the Bicycle Crank

The PGDigs Tumbr page had a neat collection of photos the other day from Pittsburgh's bicycle boom of the early 1970s. Of course, it was not the first bicycle boom in Pittsburgh. For that you have to go back a few more decades and the era of Frank Lenz and his tragic trek around the world.

Not just a traveler and explorer, but writer and photographer as well. Sort of Pittsburgh's own Wilfred Thesiger. And just imagine carrying around a 19th century camera while trying to cross the planet.

I'm serious, is there not a movie to be made about Lenz, arguably one of the greatest American adventurers? Lenz's departure from Pittsburgh must have been the 2nd most important trek to originate in Pittsburgh since Jefferson's assignment to two folks who set out on a keelboat built here earlier in the 19th century.

But if you want to read about Pittsburgh's proto bicycle scene try this article about Lenz from the Pittsburgh Press in 1892. In paticular it describes the typical Bicycle Crank of the day:
The bicycle crank differs from every other variety of the genus crank. At first glimpse of sunshine in the spring he commences to dream about a new wheel and puts in the next month visiting the different agencies, studying the new patterns, trying to arrange a deal for his old machine, etc. At each stopping place he talks a man to death and finally goes home disgusted with a head full of facts and theories. He nary makes up his mind to keep his old wheel but next morning he is round once more always on the lookout for something new whether he buys or not. With the lowest figure from half a dozen agents he sits down and commences to play games with himself to see what wheel he will buy. Finally he buys and then he sorry for a whole season he did not wait a little while longer and bore a few more people. About the time for another other season he commences to fall in love with his old wheel, but the talk of 92 or 93 models once more distracts him and he becomes melancholy mad for another period.


Blogger Vannevar Bush said...

The more things change, the more they remain the same - I so identify with the 1890's crank.

Friday, September 06, 2013 12:10:00 PM  

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