A book that never gets its balance
In this follow-up to his encyclopedic Bicycle: A History, Herlihy eschews color photos and glossy pages in an attempt to build a historical narrative surrounding turn-of-the-20th-century American cyclist Frank Lenz, who was murdered while traversing a politically unstable Turkey.
The story equally concerns William Sachtleben, another “globe girdler,” who eventually accepts the task of searching out Lenz’s remains.
Although Herlihy clearly did his research, he fails to sift out and emphasize potentially engaging historical elements, and the narrative pedals too hard, becoming a blur of unmediated tidbits. The two interludes of black-and-white photos prove more interesting than the text itself, which falls victim to trite descriptions and repetitive transitions.
While the book will probably find an audience in die-hard fans of cycling or belle epoque culture, those looking for the “epic tale” advertised on the book’s cover will ultimately find themselves wishing for a better set of wheels.