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.