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You Can’t Ride a Bike to Alaska. It’s an Island! by Mickey Thomas

October 4, 2009


When I first saw this book there weren’t a lot of books I could find on the subject of cycle touring. This one came out the same year I did my first cross country bicycle tour, but I didn’t read it till a year later. It’s the story of Mickey Thomas’ tour from Montana to Alaska in the early 1980’s. It’s hard to imagine taking on such an undertaking ever, much less before there was the internet and resources from people who’ve done things like this before. Luckily Mickey had the bikecentennial organization to help him set things up.

Mickey struggles through sickness and aches and pains and at times comes off as a bit of a complainer. He hitches a ride early on due to knee pain, which seems like a cowardly way out but in a large group such as this you really can’t take a day off and hold everyone else up. This type of get it done attitude is easy to understand for anyone who’s ever gone on a bicycle tour themselves. You always hear people making claims like “I’ve never walked a hill!” or “I’ll never hitch hike” these kinds of proclamations sound great at a bar before a tour or years later but the truth is when it’s cold and raining, your all alone with a flat that just won’t hold air and a guy pulls up in a truck and asks if you want a ride up a steep mountain pass it’s not weak to say “yes” it just makes sense. Nothing is written in stone, there’s no touring rule book. Having chronicled my adventures I have learned not to harp on the bad parts too much, it comes off a little whiney sometimes when you mention every little stumbling block. Anyone with any imagination assumes your knees hurt some days, or that cold nights in a tent are uncomfortable even if it’s not expressly mentioned.

I can also sympathize with the problems in laying out such a book. Mickey Thomas wrote this book as a journal would be written. This definitely gives the reader an idea of how the author’s mindset changes throughout the trip and gives a road map of sorts for the adventure.

This book is worth reading but not very well written. It could have been better but I sort of like the just telling a story without fancying it up at all aspect of this book.

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