In the spring of 1892, Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh, a renowed high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist, quit his accounting job and set out west to cover twenty thousand miles over three continents to pursue his dream of cycling around the world. Two years later, after surviving both natural and man-made near disasters, he was killed in a village near Erzurum at the hands of violent Kurds. The Kurds were armed by Sultan Abdulhamid, as part of the Hamidiye brigades spreading unparalleled violence in Armenian territories and they were treated above the law for all the atrocities they committed.
Lenz was a strong, fearless young man. Some may consider him foolish for braving such a journey, even needlessly stubborn for resisting to take a boat or a train where the going got really tough. Or some may think he was a raving lunatic for trying to cross through Eastern Turkey at a time when there was widespread violence in the region. Lenz may have been too careless for his own life but he was so agonizingly close to achieve his objective that had he achieved it he really would have made something out of himself that ordinary people can not even dream of.
It seems Turkey was never safe for lonely travellers who relied exclusively on their selves and the mercy of people whom they would encounter in their journeys. The Italian artist who was raped and slain in Gebze no doubt would have thought twice before entering this country had she known in advance of Lenzs awful predicament. Unfortunately ignorance, intolerance and greed often prevail in this ancient land of ours despite all claims to the contrary.