Wheels on Ice


Wheels on Ice

Stories of Cycling in Alaska

Edited by Jessica Cherry and Frank Soos

320 pages
26 photographs, 3 maps


December 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Wheels on Ice reveals Alaska’s key role in bicycling both as a mode of travel and as an endurance sport, as well as its special allure for those seeking the proverbial struggle against nature. This collection opens with the first bicycle boom and the advent of the safety bicycle in the late 1800s, at approximately the same time gold was discovered in Alaska and the Yukon Territory. As bicycles evolved, Alaskans were among the first to innovate: the fatbike, for example, evolved from the mountain bike in the late 1980s into a wider-framed bike with fatter tires, making snow biking more accessible and giving birth to the Iditabike race. More recently, ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox rode all the major roads in the state, totaling more than 4,500 miles of gravel and pavement.

Jessica Cherry and Frank Soos’s diverse group of stories covers cycling both past and present. From riders commuting in every kind of weather to those seeking long-distance adventure in the most remote sections of the United States, these stories will inspire cyclists to ride into their own stories in Alaska and beyond.

Author Bio

Jessica Cherry is a geoscientist, writer, aerial photographer, and commercial airplane pilot living in Anchorage, Alaska. She writes a literary column for the alternative weekly Anchorage Press. Frank Soos (1950–2021) is the author of Unpleasantries: Considerations of Difficult Questions, Bamboo Fly Rod Suite, and Early Yet and coauthor of Double Moon: Constructions and Conversations. He was a professor emeritus of English at the University of Alaska–Fairbanks.


"However often you ride bikes, you'll find something beautiful in this 320-page collection. You'll probably also find something inspiring. I certainly did, and when I finished reading, I pulled on my boots and went for a long ride."—John Messick, bikepacking.com

“Ever since bicycles were invented, intrepid Alaskans have set out through wilderness, over mountains, along frozen rivers, over thousands of miles of trails. This spirited and lively collection gives us history, starting in 1900, with Ed Jesson’s thousand-mile trip Dawson to Nome. We witness the development of mountain bikes and fatbikes, of pogies and GPS systems. We watch a Tuesday evening cycling club get bogged down, literally, so their ride lasts until the wee hours. From everyday bike commutes to weeks-long wilderness rides, Alaskans continue to push the pedals and their own limits. This book will delight hardcore riders, weekend riders, and readers who’ll enjoy vicariously these wild adventures on wheels.”—Peggy Shumaker, author of Just Breathe Normally

“Thrilling! This entertaining and thoughtful anthology captures the joys and adventures of bicycling in Alaska. From urban rides in Anchorage to perilous winter journeys above the Arctic circle, and from the earliest bicycles brought to Alaska during the 1890s Gold Rush to contemporary rides on fatbikes taken to help cope with our current pandemic, herein is a wide-ranging selection of essays filled with surprises at every turn. Readers will experience not only long pedals through the landscapes and wildlife of this most beautiful state but also the personal introspection that only a good ride can inspire. At turns humorous, inspiring, and thought-provoking, and all so beautifully written. It’ll make you want to ride, even at forty below.”—Daryl Farmer, author of Bicycling beyond the Divide

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Jessica Cherry
Frank Soos
Part 1. Bicycling in Alaska, 1898–1908
Terrence Cole
From Dawson to Nome on a Bicycle
Edward R. Jesson
A Broken Chain and a Busted Pedal: Max Hirschberg’s 1900 Bicycle Ride to Nome
Max Hirschberg
Cycling the Arctic: Levie’s Bicycle Ride from Point Barrow to Nome
H. B. Levie
Part 2. New Wheels, 1980s–2000
Jessica Cherry and Frank Soos
Iditabike, 1987
Charlie Kelly
Iditasport Extreme: 350 Miles
Rocky Reifenstuhl
Iditasport, 1991
Gail Koepf
Hellbikes on Ice
Roman Dial
Biking the Haul Road
Dan Buettner
Pribilofs by Bike, 1994
Bill Sherwonit
Rough-Terrain Unicycling, 1997
Michael Finkel
Part 3. Wheels Now, 2001–2021
Jessica Cherry
The Wind Grooms Our Trails
Daniel Smith
Skagway to Nome
Jeff Oatley
The Government Sign
Corinna Cook
Last Ride of the Season
David A. James
A Winter Bike Commute
Martha Amore
The Bike Thief
Don Rearden
The Killer Hill
Andromeda Romano-Lax
Cryo-Cave! An Ode to Indoor Training in Alaska
Eric Flanders
The Iditarod Trail and Me
Clinton Hodges III
That One Magnetek Time I Jumped Over Five Cars
M. C. MoHagani Magnetek
When There’s No One Left to Fight
Rachael Kvapil
The Books I Carried
Alys Culhane
Going Long, Going Solo
Corrine Leistikow
Physical Education
Jessica Cherry
There Is No Tomorrow
Bjørn Olson
A Positively Memorable Mountain Bike Ride(ish)
Eric Troyer
Back in Alaska to Share the Story of the Roads
Lael Wilcox
Nulato Hills: Biking Musk Ox Trails in Western Alaska
Luc Mehl
Growing Old with My Bicycle
Kathleen McCoy
The Magic Bus on Stampede Trail
Tom Moran
Tell ’Em about It: An Alaska Cyclist at Large
Earl Peterson
Source Acknowledgments

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