The Bicycle Man

Every community has one.  It’s the guy who is known as The Bicycle Man.  It’s fodder for many urban legends, but there is always that “weird guy” who rides around on a bike, probably because he either lost his license, never had one, or never could afford the luxury of a car.

Pennsylvania’s most famous bicycle man was actually a kidnapper, and during the subsequent manhunt was responsible for the first FBI agent killed in the line of duty.  (I’ll need to check these facts, but I’m pretty sure.)

We have a bicycle man.  He is this wirey little guy that I’ve seen several times, riding either an ATB or an old 10 speed.  Actually, most of the time I see him walking it up a large hill; either on Garrison or Old York Road.  He usually has an angry look on his face and he is talking to himself.

I figured it was just a matter of time before we met up, and the other day it happened.  I was headed home after a longish ride and came up behind him just as he was dismounting to walk his bike up a pretty steep hill.  I have to admit that my antenna were up a little, looking for any threatening moves.  As I got closer, I shifted into the granny and started grinding as fast as I could to get past him.  He heard me, turned, and with a kind of Forrest Gump tone to his voice, gave me a “Hi.”  Without thinking, I returned with a “hey, howya doin” and rode on by.

Harmless.  The Bicycle Man wasn’t carrying any axes or even a pointy stick.  He didn’t start swearing at me or throw anything.  He just said hi. 


From the Crime Sleuths Community Cold Case Board, 2005 post:

Peggy Ann was abducted while walking to her home after school. She was accompanied by her five younger brothers and sisters. A masked man jumped from the bushes with a rifle and ordered Peggy Ann into the forest. Authorities suspected this was the mysterious mountain man who had been sniping at people, seriously wounding two, and at passing cars for at least the prior 2 years. The man led Peggy Ann through the mountains by a chain around her neck. In the ensuing manhunt, the man shot and killed an FBI agent. The man, William Hollenbaugh, shot another police officer and was then himself killed in a shootout. Peggy Ann was rescued, safe and relatively unharmed. She wore out a pair of shoes trekking through the mountains during that week. Hollenbaugh had a hunting shack that he lived in, and also took Peggy Ann to three caves where he had food, guns, and ammo stored.
Hollenbaugh, known as “bicycle Pete” because of his habit of riding his rusted red bicycle around the local towns. 44 years old at the time of his death, he had served a 5-to-10 year sentence for robbery and was in and out of mental instutions for 13 years, finally being completely released in 1959.
Interestingly, Shade Gap is fifty miles by road to Bedford, but only thirty overland. Peggy Ann estimated they covered over fifty miles in her week of captivity.


2 responses to “The Bicycle Man

  1. We deal with our share of “bicycle men” at the shop. Mostly it’s good fun, but a few months ago, in the depths of winter (i.e. nobody else in the shop), I enjoyed one such conversation with my hand wrapped around the .357 magnum I keep close at hand behind the counter. The guy started out seeming harmless, but grew more and more erratic and frightening the longer he stayed, talking about relatives who’d done him wrong, a felony record, etc, and constantly jamming his hands nervously into his pockets. I was glad when he left, but as I locked up and walked home a bit later, I wished I could see around every corner, and I looked over my shoulder more than once. Thankfully, he hasn’t been back.

    On the other hand, most of these guys are good natured and, in many cases, full of interesting stories and chatter. When I say “interesting”, I should disclose that one of my hobbies is engaging homeless and eccentric street people in conversation. It’s a sort of conversational adventure, and I never know which way it’s going to go and what I’m going to learn.

  2. Pingback: Bicycle Man Follow Up « Pedalling Along

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s