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The Wind in My Wheels

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As a young girl, Josie Dew developed an overpowering urge to travel. She also fell out of a fast-moving vehicle and, rather inconveniently, developed a lifelong aversion to cars. Along came her first bicycle, and she has never looked back. Four continents, thirty-six countries and eighty thousand miles worth of astounding adventures, eccentric characters, varied cultures and ever-enduring optimism are the result of her travels.
From Saharan locust invasions to tree-climbing goats, and a customs official who wouldn't let her leave India because 'You are making me a very fine wife', her encounters are described with honesty, wit and perception. Strange incidents and bizarre circumstances punctuate her journeys: in Nepal she met a team of Frenchmen running from Paris to China, and a cyclist on his way from one Olympic Games to the next. In Udaipur she was greeted by everyone with the refrain 'Hello Mr. Jamie Bond Octopussy filmed here', whilst her view of post-Ceausescu Romania, a nation suffering and starving, affected her both physically and mentally.
THE WIND IN MY WHEELS is informative, illuminating, and ceaselessly amusing.

368 pages, Paperback

First published August 13, 1992

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Josie Dew

11 books12 followers

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5 stars
90 (32%)
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125 (45%)
3 stars
56 (20%)
2 stars
3 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Jukka.
305 reviews5 followers
September 2, 2008
The Wind in My Wheels - Josie Dew
Still more biking adventure. I listed Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy earlier. Here's three more women bike trek authors.
Josie Dew is crazy. On a whim she boards a ferry and bikes around Iceland -- just one of several treks she writes about in this book. Josie can find the funny part of just about anything, and while her writing is not as polished as Dervla's (of whom she drops by for a visit) this is still a fascinating and inspiring read. Josie also has books about her rides in the U.S. and Japan.
Another good read is Riding the Mountains Down by Bettina Selby. Bettina is a much more serious writer, and her books are both travel books and journalistic exploration. I really enjoyed her description, although i was looking for a little more excitement. She has a whole series of biking books after this and i'd be interested to read more from her.
Anne Mustoe is another writer who has written several recent bike trek books that have caught my attention. She like Bettina Selby is also a good example of an older rider.

Josie Dew:
The Wind in My Wheels: Travel Tales from the Saddle (1992)
Travels in a Strange State: Cycling across the USA (1994)
A Ride in the Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan (1999)
The Sun in my Eyes: Two-Wheeling East (2001)
Slow Coast Home (2003)
Saddled at Dust (2006)
Long Cloud Ride (2007)

Bettina Selby:
Riding the Mountains Down (1984)
Riding to Jerusalem (1986)
Riding the Desert Trail: By Bicycle Up the Nile (1988)
Riding North One Summer (1991)
Frail Dream of Timbuktu (1993)
Beyond Ararat: A Journey Through Eastern Turkey (1994)
Pilgrim's Road: A Journey to Santiago De Compostela (1994)
Like Water in a Dry Land: A Journey into Modern Israel (1998)

Anne Mustoe:
A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World (2002)
Lone Traveller: One Woman, Two Wheels and the World (2002)
Two Wheels in the Dust: From Kathmandu to Kandy (2002)
Cleopatra's Needle: From the Thames to the Nile by Bicycle (2003)
Amber, Furs and Cockleshells Bike Rides with Pilgrims and Merchants (2007)
Che Guevara and the Mountain of Silver (2007)
Profile Image for Sarah Stackman.
1 review2 followers
December 1, 2014
My favourite book in all the world. Have read it an embarrassingly large number of times since I first picked it up at 14 and it's travelled with me to 12 countries and throughout the Aussie outback in a motorbike pannier.
She's been my inspiration for a life of adventure, I'm now an adventure photographer and a lot of having the courage to get here has come from her.
Plus she's hilarious.

Her later books are a bit long winded and haven't quite got the same freshness to them. I'd recommend starting with this one.
Profile Image for Martinxo.
674 reviews57 followers
February 14, 2014
I really enjoyed this book, it's very hard not to warm to Josie Dew, her lust for life and sense of adventure is infectious and makes me want to fix up my bike and set off across mainland Europe to Siberian plains, or something similar.
Profile Image for Tala Al-Kamil.
22 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2020
In three words: inspiring, amusing, light.

Inspiring. I am ready to buy a touring bike and hit the roads! My dream of European road-trips May finally be realised thanks to this wonderful book. I feel like I met a like-minded soul who views the wonders of an undiscovered land with the same zeal as myself.

Amusing. Josie writes with charm and playfulness - I only wish I could have been cycling with her! Her approach to meeting new people and experiencing new cultures was so refreshing and her quirky story-telling made it all the more enjoyable!

Light. In just two days, I successfully explored each and every page of this wonderful book. Its easy-going nature allowed me to pick it up in every spare minute I had, and it was a refreshing way to spend my evenings.

A definite four stars from me - I’d recommend it as a light-hearted read to anyone who yearns for travel as much as me!
Profile Image for Monica.
20 reviews
February 4, 2021
An irrepressible character who just loves to cycle. Impressive addendum of all her cycling gear which will be useful when I decide to go off on my cycling travels... except that even the roads down yer in Deb'n scare me. I don't even enjoy pootling along the nearby cycle paths because I always seem to be in the way of some lycralout.
Of course a woman alone will be harassed by flashers, but her dangerous experience in a flat, with a bloke who told her his wife and kids were expected to return shortly... well it was inevitable.
Yes Josie. Your exhuberance has made me think that I might enjoy a cycling holiday but I will need to plan my route carefully. I could go anywhere... if the pandemic ever goes away
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sophie Rhodes-martin.
15 reviews7 followers
December 8, 2017
What a woman! Reading Jose's stories make me want to get on my bike and just cycle into the sunset! I liked the quirky illustrations/ maps and the way she used so much humour in her stories that made them so easy and fun to read. I think she broached moral issues tactfully and avoided becoming lecturing but was also able to advocate for things she is clearly passionate for, in a way that was sensitive, interesting and persuasive! Escapism and inspiration in equal measure.
Profile Image for Rowena C..
57 reviews
November 22, 2019
This gal is CRAZY, but I wouldn't have enjoyed the book much if she were any other way. At times I felt things were over-embellished for a good shock to the reader, but on the whole, I loved it from beginning to end. If you don't mind TMI (potty issues), gross situations (filthy camping environments), a dangerous situation (made me sick to my stomach), and a bit of a ramble (never a dull moment even with herself), have a go at this entertaining armchair travel.
920 reviews
March 11, 2019
Not as funny as the writer would have liked.

Her adventurousness is inspiring nevertheless. And has some interest as as a snapshot of different countries in the eighties.
Profile Image for Colleen.
30 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2019
AWESOME, biking across the world. MAKES you wanna pack up your bike and GO
Profile Image for Arjun.
41 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2021
I picked this one up from a library wanting a change from all the fiction I had been reading this year. Turned out to be a really interesting one!

This book chronicles all the cycling expeditions of a (seemingly) crazy British woman. Josie Dew, who is involved in a not-very-serious car mishap in her childhood, develops an aversion towards motorized vehicles, and instead, chooses to see the world from the saddle. Her ventures include most of Europe and North Africa and a long haul in Nepal and India.

The account of each journey begins with a hand-drawn map of the route with all the major details scribbled in or drawn as graffiti. The stories are descriptions of the main incidents (good and bad) that happen during the journey. Since the first trip was with a male friend of hers, the events are mostly pleasant and interesting, barring a few exceptions. It was quite shocking to know that places like France could be notorious for sexual advances and aggression.

The excitement of taking a few risks and the joy of cycling never stops the author as she goes about cycling, with an occassional "Pant dropper", to cases such as once, when she is held at gunpoint by a criminal for her passport (in Poland). The experience with the medical system in rural Spain was also a surprise to me. This happened in second trip through Spain, when her friend, Ward, is hit by a vehicle that speeds off after the mishap, and he has to be admitted for head injuries. Luckily, both escape unscathed!

The one thing I was looking forward to the most, in this book, was her experience in India. And I was not quite surprised about this part. Although I felt initially that she was being a bit too harsh about the third world and especially India, the later part of the books indicates that she understands what she is talking about. The rampant corruption of the Police and Customs officials (incidents in India and Nepal respectively), the yawning gap between Old and New Delhi, the horde of people she and her friend attracted, small town robberies and the filthy and unhygenic conditions (which still prevail) were not very pleasant to read, as an Indian, although they still are truths that stare you in the eye.

The tale of her later stint in Eastern Europe also is of poverty, corruption and oppression. The havoc and destruction by the totalitarian regime by the Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Caeusescu and the years of poverty that followed even after the liberation are all there in first hand accounts. Recently, I came across an Indian travel documentary filmmaker who was travelling in Romania, and presented a not-very-different picture!

The book ends with a harrowing experience, in which, she trusts a Bulgarian fisherman who promises her with food and water when she is badly out of supplies and tries to take advantage and overpower her at his place. Her cool head saves the day yet again, but this was one too close. After all the pant droppers and half-hearted perverts, here was one distressing story, although she walks out safe and sound!

Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Looking forward to reading more of her books and blog: http://josiedew.com/
Profile Image for Avano.
16 reviews
February 16, 2017
I love this woman and her enthusiastic and open-minded approach to cycling adventures, new countries and cultures, and everything that comes with it. Her tales of travel are inspiring and infectious, and well describe the liberty that one finds if they change their rushed way of the automobile for the slow but rewarding way of the bicycle. Having cycled my fair share of treks as well, this book is both a familiar and inspiring read of what you can achieve when you let go of your plans and just see where opportunity and the wind lead you to go.
Profile Image for Oanh.
461 reviews22 followers
May 23, 2010
Another enjoyable cycle-logue by Josie Dew (actually her first, but my second of hers). I liked this much more than Slow Coast Home (though I enjoyed that too). This is a collection of stories about her early cycle tours - around Europe, around the British Isles, to (and around) Morocco and in Eastern Europe. It ends with a harrowing, but heartening, tale of a close encounter in Bulgaria - referenced in her other works so good to know the whole story now.

The thing I like most about Josie Dew's writings is her character. The writing itself is okay (she is a little too fond of puns and alliteration) but her bravery, humour and easy-going nature makes journeying with her a lot of fun. She sees the good almost everywhere and is more interested in people, than history or culture. And she seems able to take set backs in good humour.
Profile Image for Wayne Jordaan.
286 reviews10 followers
January 7, 2016
Josie Dew is a pocket dynamo, not the type that converts kinetic energy into electricity from the bicycle wheel, but the one that actually drives the wheel in the first place. A mostly solo cyclist , she actually prefers to do without the company, she relates her adventures in a highly-entertaining fashion. Travelling on her own she opens herself to unwanted attention (from the male of the species), but far from "tut-tutting" and "she is looking for it" I am filled with admiration for her deliberate forays from her comfort zones. I enjoyed The Wind in my Wheels: Travel Tales from the Saddle and will definitely be on the lookout for her other offerings.
77 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2008
I like travel books that involve travel and bikes of the pedal variety this is one of the better. I read most of her books all good.
Profile Image for Tariq.
28 reviews3 followers
August 22, 2008
Dew knows how to tell a good story, and her first book gives you little snippets of lots of different cycling adventures.

Just a little repetitive at times.
Profile Image for Francisca Prieto.
62 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2013
Li isto há uns anos. É de uma inglesa maluca que anda pelo mundo fora de bicicleta. De rebolar a rir.
Muita pena por a tradução portugesa ser francamente manhosa, ao ponto de irritar.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

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