Books Luke Mehl bikes in the Nulato Hills in September 2017. The photo appears in the book "Wheels on Ice: Stories of Cycling in Alaska." (Luc Mehl photo) In late 1899, Ed Jesson heard that gold was being scooped from the beaches of Western Alaska. Seeking the quickest way there from Dawson City, he purchased a bicycle, and in early 1900 pedaled the Yukon River and winter trails all the way to Nome, becoming the first known person to ride a bicycle across Alaska. He wouldn’t be the last.
Jesson’s firsthand account of that epic journey opens the late historian Terrence Cole ’s 1989 book “Wheels on Ice: Bicycling in Alaska 1898-1908.” That slim volume, which compiled five gold rush-era accounts of bicycling the Last Frontier, holds “something of a cult status in Alaska,” said Jessica Cherry, a climate scientist with the University of Alaska. It’s also “nearly unobtainable,” which is part of why she and the late University of Alaska English professor Frank Soos co-edited a new and greatly expanded edition of the book.
“Wheels on Ice: Stories of Cycling in Alaska” reprints three of the pieces from Cole’s original along with a selection of essays from the 1980s and ‘90s — when all-season recreational bicycling surged in Alaska — and more than 20 contributions from current Alaska cyclists.
Cherry and several of those contributors will be reading selections from the book at Writer’s Block in Anchorage at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“There was such a wonderful diversity in the contemporary pieces of […]
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