Last week I had the pleasure of sharing a beer or three with David Herlihy. Familiar enough, meet a friend to talk bikes, great cycling trips, heroic riders. But chatting with David—the author of the best english language history of bicycles, Bicycle: The History and the incredible Frank Lenz story in The Lost Cyclist—is something else entirely. He regaled with mesmerizing details of Thomas Allen and William Sachtleben’s 1891 trip around the world, the first on safety bicycles and chronicled in the classic Across Asia on a Bicycle. We shook our heads at Fred Birchmore’s 42 lbs. balloon tired machine, ridden around the world in the 1930’s. Best of all was hearing about the adventure craft of the historian. Tracking down obscure leads, getting lost in archives, flying overseas to ride some of the landscapes.
David recently curated a successful show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, a collection of Allen and Sachtleben’s black and white trip photos along with their captions and diary entries. This is another dimension of that period that stands out: the new availability of portable cameras for the traveler to use to chronicle a pedal.
If you’re in NYC, save the evening of May 19th. David’s giving a talk on the history of bicycles in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Historical Society. It’ll be excellent.
Wheeling Through Brooklyn
Tuesday, May 19th 6:30-8:30
Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont St
Brooklyn, New York
RSVP here and arrive early for a seat