Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wheels on Ice

Wheels on Ice is a 64 page magazine sized book about bicycle travel in Alaska from 1898-1908. The book is a collection of stories by people that used bicycles rather then dog sled to explore and prospect the Alaskan frontier.

The book has been out of print for some time, but can be found on,

The book is one of my favorite. Simple and sweet about rugged riders in a very cold world. Reading the stories you realize how good we have it and a how an 8 degree day seems warm.

One of my favorite parts was the protocol of the Alaskan Traveler when arriving at a Road House.
The book tells the story about how road houses would have a Oil Tank Stove in the center of the room, with a 100 gallon oil tank. The stove was also burning wood. All around the stove pipe was a rack made of poles and wires over which wet socks, shoes and jackets were set by patrions to dry. One can only amagin how bad the room must have smelled. Its no wonder everyone smoked!
A traveler would come through the door, find a box or a log to sit on, take off his wet boots and socks and put on dry. He than would hang his wet socks, boots and jacket on the rack, find his pipe and light it. Only after that, he might speak. Hundreds of travelers were said to follow the ritual and while taking care of business, was not spoken to by guests around the stove. Each mans business was own, and unless he choose to take others into his confidence, he was let strictly alone.

The little book is filled with great tid bits like that and is one of my favorite cycling books and will be cherished for years.

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