Q&A with Josie Dew
I was given a copy of The Wind in My Wheels when I first got into cycling just under a decade ago. A travelogue which detailed the experience of the English touring cyclist Josie Dew.
At that time, I had read numerous cycling books but mainly about professional bike racing. I found Josie’s book inspiring and it gave me a different perspective on the bike.
Although a caterer by profession, Josie frequently takes long cycle tours and then writes books about her trips, full of humour and human observation. Sometimes putting herself in mortal danger - all in the name of adventure.
1987, her first time abroad by herself, Josie clocked up 7000 miles in six months riding through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Faroe Island, Iceland, Lapland, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland and France.
By September 2005, Josie had cycled through 48 countries, including circumnavigating Great Britain and Japan. Enduring “locust invasions, tree-climbing goats and ogling Arabs” in the Sahara. Across Katmandu, The Himalayas and “the chaos, rats, dhal and dubious water supplies” of India.
She has cycled around Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Around Hawaii ("lots of palm trees"). Through Mexico's Baja peninsula, down the west coast of the USA, Hong Kong, China and the Baltic States. She got pregnant and kept cycling until she went into labour.
I could go on …
I have wanted to get Josie on the journal for a long time and I am very pleased to be able to share this with you.
Many thanks to Josie for her time and for providing images.
"That's my Cycle", Wall in India, 1989
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
Some of my favourite local roads to ride are the lanes around Didling – quiet, scenic, lots of sheep and close to the foot of the always impressive South Downs. And one of my best local rides off road is the South Downs Way: no motor traffic, high up, great views of the sea and the Weald.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
Northwest fjords of Iceland, Scottish Highlands, north coast of Hawaii’s Kauai, west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, fjords of Norway, parts of Austria and the French Alps, Japan’s Okinawa archipelago and the Netherlands (for its incredible network of bike paths).
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling
Lots of memorable moments - one being going into labour while out on a bike ride when pregnant with my first child and trying to cycle home before giving birth.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
I approach cycling slightly differently now as I generally have children attached!
In the north of the Sahara desert, Algeria, 1985
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
My Exposure lights – at last I feel drivers can actually see me.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
If I could, I would go back to a time when cars were few and far between (or non-existent).
Are you the type of person who likes to have a plan? Or do you prefer to wing it?
As for plans – I tend to be spur of the moment.
Monument Valley, USA. Cycling across America, 1992.
Have you faced many challenges bringing up three children in a rural area without a car?
When my first child was 1 I got my first ever vehicle (rusty camper van) as both my parents were ill in hospital 20 miles away and because of where I live (rural - not train service no bus service) I bought the camper as I couldn't cycle down a busy A road for 20 miles with a baby in the dark winter nights to visit them. I still have the camper and use it only on the rare occasions when I can't get to the place I need to get to on the bike with 3 children.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
Being overtaken on my bike too fast too close or overtaken on a blind corner.
Cotton cap or helmet?
These days helmet.
Rough Road, Utah. USA, 1992.
Which three words best describe you?
Cycling writing mother.
When were/are you most happy?
On the move, on the bikes with my noisy offspring.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
If the amount of cars and trucks and vans on our roads metamorphose into bikes it would be heaven!
Bike Path near Zandvoort, The Netherlands. Cycling the North Sea coast with offspring, 2016.
Bike Path near Breskens, The Netherlands, 2017.
Comments on this post (2)
I have read all your books and look forward to reading the latest on your website.
I would be very interested to hear your opinion of Brexit and how will it affect you and your travels?
— Veronica Durkin
what an inspiration she is.
— Andrew Evans