Our new President: Josie Dew & her cycling thoughts

We asked Josie Dew (of cycle touring books fame) if she would become our Honorary President and she happily agreed,

We thought we would ask her to answer some questions about cycling for our website.

questions and answers with Josie Drew

1. When did you first start cycling and how did you learn?

I was 3 when I learnt to cycle on a bumpy muddy lane outside our house when my dad let go of me.


2. What was your first bike? and your favourite?

My first bike was some bashed-up and bent-wheeled mini steed that had been passed down through my older brothers.
I don’t have a favourite bike – I like them all for different things: my first big wheeled bike – a 5-speed Raleigh Misty for being a present from the local bike shop (A.J.Penny) on my 11th birthday and for being the first bike I rode to Land’s End on (when I was 11) among multiple other places; my Italian Campione – for being the first bike I raced on (when I was 13) and for being the bike that I toured on around Wales, Ireland, up to John o’ Groats (when I was 14/15) and cycled across Europe on to Africa after I left school at 16; both my Roberts Roughstuff tourers for taking me all over the shop; my Brompton for speedily squashing down into a tidy portable package; my Danish Nihola trike contraption for being fun to ride and carrying multiple offspring and husbands (well, one actually, of the latter); my Circe tandem for keeping Molly tucked in safely behind me and taking us across Holland, Germany and Denmark. And I like all my other bikes too!

3. Have you ever had a bike stolen?

I’ve had a bike light stolen but never a bike.


4. Have you always cycled or was there a break at any stage of your life?

I have been cycling virtually every day since I was ten (which is the age I became besotted with cycle-touring). The only time I haven’t was due to injury (wonked knee and pinged Achilles tendon). I also didn’t cycle when I travelled to New Zealand by a Russian rust bucket cargo ship. It was supposed to take 5 weeks but took nearly 2 months as the engine broke down reducing speed to half. I had my bike with me and when we finally hit first land (Tahiti after about 6 weeks of being at sea) I was like an unsprung spring and rode all over the island non-stop until the containers had been loaded again and we off.

5. How do you think teenagers can be encouraged to keep cycling?

How can teenagers be encouraged to keep cycling? Pay them? I jest – although it might work.
Put cycling in the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools so that it becomes more a way a life. The government needs to make it less glamorous and more difficult to travel by motor vehicle and provide safer and far more Dutch-like facilities for cyclists (eg bikes have priority at roundabouts and dangerous junctions, lower the speed limit in villages and urban areas to 20mph and lower it on rural roads with strict enforcement and serious penalties for those who break it – and stricter punishment for drivers who hit cyclists – make the motorist liable until proven otherwise as in many European countries). Parents will only let their children cycle when they consider the roads are safe enough (as in Holland) and once young children start cycling daily (to school, friends, for fun etc) it becomes a normal activity for all and they will automatically continue cycling into teenage years and as adults.
Far more cycling (racing, time trials, mountain biking, bike polo, cycle touring, BMX-ing) should be televised and the government should give British bike manufacturers a load of money so that they could compete with car manufactures by making glamorous adverts for cycling on television, cinemas, computers, phones etc.
6. How have you managed the tricky stages when children are too big for a bike seat? and later when they can cycle independently but not very far?

I have managed tricky stages for my children when they become too big for bike seats by moving into cycle trailers then Danish trikes (the Nihola) then tag-along bikes and Follow-me kits that fit on their bikes to tandems when we need to travel big distances for little legs.


7. Do your little ones need encouragement sometimes and, if so. what are the most successful enticements?!

My girls rarely need encouragement to get on the bike because we do it every day so it’s as normal as brushing their teeth. And anyway there’s no other choice as there is no other way!


8. Where is your favourite cycle route? and your favourite long-distance cycle? and what is the most memorable place you have visited by bike?

If I answered all my favourite places visited by bike I could go on for ever!


9. What do you feel are the most important cycle campaigning issues for the UK?
Campaigning issues I’ve mostly answered in question 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.