The Wind in my Wheels by Josie Dew, Time Warner Books, London, 1992.
I read this book for a third time recently and found myself enjoying it all over again. The author seems to cycle and write with a great joy for life and takes nothing and no one she meets too seriously. Not even the attempted rape in Romania with which this book ends seems to phase her too much. At least it does not dampen her enthusiasm for cycling.
This is the first of 7 books Dew has written, each telling the tale of a road trip on her bike. This volume tells of 9 trips – each a bit more demanding than the one before. So the book charts Dews growing love affair with cycling and is brim full with her enthusiasm for travel and adventure. Traveling sometimes on her own and sometimes with a friend, she seems to see cycling as an adventure rather than an ordeal and this I find refreshing. While others play up the physical and emotional challenges of cycle touring, Dew seems determined to have fun and enjoy her trips. I don’t see anything wrong with that: far from it.
Don’t expect anything too heavy in the text therefore and be prepared for some fairly lame jokes and a light hearted tone throughout. This is more fizz and froth than frown and fight, but the writing is clear and gets the job done, describing in fair details the wheres, whens and hows of the trips completed.
I suppose there is a danger in taking such a light hearted approach in that the achievement of the cycling may be hidden a bit. In truth however, the author’s love of cycling has been demonstrated and sustained over many years and trips and her experience should not be under estimated. She may not be aiming for heavy weight literature, but she is no light weight cyclist and has lots of rich experiences to share.
Some might question how sensible she is to travel by bike alone in some of the places she goes: the near disaster in Romania where she is trapped and attacked supports such views. However, the more important message is that she is a brave and accomplished traveller who is determined to make the most of her cycling and squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of her trips. Her determination to be positive and her resourcefulness shines through these trips and so they have much to teach the cycle tourist – novice and expert alike.
A funny book by a woman who just seems to get on with it – her trips and her writing and who seems to be hell bent on enjoying her cycling as long as she can keep the wheels turning. More power to her ankles.