Josie Dew

Welcome to the official website of Josie Dew: cyclist, writer and cook.


New Year Update

The trouble with trying to write a book is the trouble of trying to get around to writing it. I would far rather spend all day riding my bike ? or even bailing out my tent ? but seeing as I?ve just spent the past year performing both of these activities, there comes a time when you?ve run out of windows to wash or floors to hoover and simply got to force yourself to sit down, stare at a blank sheet and type a word. And once you?ve typed that first word you can think: only 999,000 words to go. Easy really.

RIP

RIP

So that?s what I?m doing now, writing words and stringing them together to form a haphazard heap of sentences. Despite the complete lack of exercise it requires, and the shutting yourself away from everything and everyone, I strangely love writing. My wonked knee seems to love it too because it can at last lie back, put up its feet and have a rest. For once I?m not forcing it to haul me and my weighty load day after day over mountain over mountain. That said, I do still have to have my thirty-to-forty-plus miles-a-day dose of cycling. If I can?t cycle daily I tend to get horribly fidgety and crotchety and?well, thoroughly unpleasant.

So here?s my writing day:

Fall out of bed at 6am, if not before. Sometimes, if I?ve got a real writing head on, I?ll get up at 4am. Also, looming deadlines mean extra early rising. Sometimes it?s easier just not to go to bed at all.

The first thing I have to do when I get up is to go cycling for an hour or two or more, no matter whether it?s dark, freezing, frosty, raining cows and horses or blowing a gale. Unless I have a good heart-pounding cycle I can?t write.
When I get home I have breakfast ? a hefty pot of porridge. Then I sit a foot off the ground on a small square stool I made when I was eleven, at a low makeshift table with a removable top of plywood wedged against the window, and write for five hours until it?s time to eat again. (Another very large pot of food). I then go for another hour or two?s fast cycle. Then I come home, pick up the axe and chop up a barrow-load of wood. Then I light a fire and write for another five hours. Then I eat another very large pot of food and maybe have a little light entertainment with the builder. And then I write until about midnight ? give or take an hour depending on the word flow and the weighted state of my eyelids.

Then I flop into bed, ready to start all over again.

Word count to date: 16,500

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Festive Greetings

Just thought I’d send a non-news update and to say Merry Festiveness and all that sort of thing. I haven’t got a lot of action to report, though happily my knee has flopped back into position and I’m now pounding the pedals again to make up for lost time / miles. At least I was up until 2 days ago when I had to stop to push a car out of my bicycling way (it’s a long story) and something dared to ping in my knee again. So I’m swinging around on crutches once more. But I don’t think it will be for long as it doesn’t feel an overly serious malfunctioning. Meanwhille, I hope Santa brings you all lots of lovely shiny bicycles and bicycling widgets and gadgets.

Moo-rry Christmas

Moo-rry Christmas

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Postcards From Oz

G’day mate! Have made it to Oz! But only just. The good news is that my German freighter finally turned up. The bad news is that an hour after sliding away into the murk from New Zealand’s Port of Tauranga, we hit a Force 9 storm. All night and all day and all night again the ship slammed and fell into the scary large potholes of the mountainous seas. My innards turned inside out and upside down. Felt like a dead dog. The Filipino and Kiribati crew were all very lovely and helpful though. They kept trying to get me to drink green tea and eat hard boiled eggs and buns which was not easy as sipping water even made me sick.

Oz Wildlife

Oz Wildlife

Then, no sooner had I got back on my wobbly sea legs than we careered bow-first into a Force 10 nightmare with 50-plus knot winds and 10 metre (30-very-high-feet) waves. The captain looked not a happy man. Nor did anyone else for that matter. The ship bucked and slammed and jammed and jarred into the bottomless troughs and walls of waves and took on a worrying amount of water.

Aussie Lingo

Aussie Lingo

All bilges going full pelt. Hit a massive electrical storm too. Sky exploded. Engine power was cut from 17? ? 20 knots to 6 knots. Just had to try and ride it out. Everything smashing. Everything crashing. Much later and into the clear, the captain told me that had the storm last much longer than the 20 or so hours that it did, we could have rolled, which would have been a bit more excitement than I’d bargained for. I had always wanted to cross the Tasman sea by ship, but I can’t say I’ve ever been that keen that I’ve wanted to swim it.

Skippy

Skippy

At last I landed on my feet in Melbourne, a stone lighter than I had been a week earlier. I can certainly recommend a sea-crossing of the Tasman as a very effective diet, if nothing else.

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Right Side Up Update

If you’re thinking this postcard doesn’t much look like a kangaroo or a cockatoo but more like the bike dreamed up by Mike Burrows, designed by Lotus and ridden to victory by Chris Boardman in a bygone year, you’re right. And if you’re wondering why I’m sending something of a Blighty flavour rather than an Aussie one, that’s because I’m here instead of there.

Postcard From Oz

Postcard From Oz

After a year spent mostly upside down, returning home was all very sudden and all very unplanned. Had things gone as I thought they were going to, I should now be cycling around the wilds of Tasmania. But thanks to being charged at by a big brute of a dog, resulting in a twisted knee (yes, THAT knee!), damaged cartilage and multiple Melbourne hospital visits, x-rays and scans with a possible knee operation on the cards, I decided the best thing was to come home to write about New Zealand while getting mended properly rather than flop around in my tent feeling all woeful.

So here I am hobbling around, one-legged cycling and determined to get another hundred thousand miles under my wheels before the wonked knee gives up the ghost for good.

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More Postcards

Unlike what this postcard says I’m not in the Antarctic but in Bluff, in the very south of South Island, which is about as close to the land of icy Emperors as I’m going to get ? at least for a while.

Banking on my being scooped up as a shipment of ‘super cargo’ by a freighter this weekend, my next postcard should be emanating from Oz. But til then

miles cycled so far in New Zealand: 4151;
No. of Punctures: 0;
Tyres used: Continental Top Touring (have just put on new pair Conti Travel Contacts);
No. of baths had in past year: ?
Thing I miss most about home: Baths!

Best things about New Zealand: multiple rainbows; very un-cloud-like clouds; colour and clarity of light; large amount of large areas with no-one; tui, bell-birds and fantails; matey-ness of people – specially the Maori and the postwomen on bikes; Haast Pass, Lindi’s Pass, Arthur’s Pass, road over Crown Range (highest one in NZ), road to Mt. Cook, East Cape, Kauri Forest, Catlins, Wanaka, South Island West Coast in Sun.

Worst thing about NZ: the drivers!!

Emperor Penguins

Emperor Penguins

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Cycling In October

After 9? months I’m still here in New Zealand but not for much longer as next week I’m catching a Deutch cargo ship to Oz. I should have been mid-Tasman Sea by now but seems das boote has got a bit lost or something or taken a wrong turning somewhere mid-Pacific. My passage to Oz is being classified as ‘super cargo’ which I’m taking as a compliment even if it does translate as ‘super-hassle-cargo’ as soon as my jolly German seamen clap eyes on the multi-panniered bike-ballast I’ll be heaving on board. Am writing this in sleeping bag confined to tent quarters thanks to a bout of most unreasonable unseasonable stormy weather that is currently battering my flimsy abode. Long may the sun shine in Oz as I need to warm up and dry out.

Rockhopper Penguins

Rockhopper Penguins

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Upside Down Update

Have now been cycling in variable degrees of uprightness Downunder for nigh on nine months. So far have been spat at, shouted at, run off the road, blown off the road, soaked, sunburnt, frozen, hailed on, snowed on, starved, over-fed, over-charged, under-charged, over a possum (a dead one), under a possum (a tree-climbing one), bitten, stung, dog-chased, car-chased, bitten again, wounded, x-rayed, stuck in mud, stuck in floods, battered by unseasonable storms, peppered with shrapnel-like gravel, skimmed by 40-ton logging trucks, swallowed by bottomless potholes, whiplashed by an argumentative tree, divebombed by a helmet-hitting harrier, haunted by the eerie call of a morepork (owl), followed by a fantail (bird), chased by an ostrich, charged at by a boar, caught in a sheep-jam, held up by a cow-block, bird dropping dropped-on by a startled starling, met a builder (Gary) and had a nice time.

Ice

Ice

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NZ to OZ

Josie is leaving New Zealand for Australia on 27th September! She’s found a boat to take her there and wants to see and cycle as much of that part of the world as possible while she she has the chance.

She’s starting in Melbourne, then cycling round Tasmania, probably to Brisbane and after that . . . who knows?!

We’ll bring you any further news as we get it.

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New Zealand postcard bonanza 2!

Was cycling along today when the thought struck me in a striking manner that it was June 24th. As I arrived in New Zealand on Christmas Eve, I calculated in a calculating fashion that I had been in this Land-of-the-Long-White-Cloud-and-Never-Ending-Rain a long 6 months.

So, you may ask, and if you don’t I shall then ask myself, what do I think of New Zealand so far?

North Cape

North Cape

WEATHER:

couldn’t be wetter if it tried but then I have landed up here in the wettest, windiest, coldest, most floodiest etc etc summer on record.

TIP: bring clipless welly boots, a floating tent and a set of 16 small anchors in place of tent pegs complete with buoys to facilitate location in the morning.

Kiwi

Kiwi

WIND:

strong and galeforce from every direction but always against you.

TIP: hoist the mizzen and tack hard on wide roads to ease your journey. (Method not recommended in close proximity to 50-ton logging trucks).

ADDED EXTRA:

Fold down wing mirrors to reduce wind resistance, close mouth and tape back ears.

Maori Meeting House

Maori Meeting House

ROAD SURFACE:

METALLED ROADS chippings vary from fist to saucer-size resulting in an energy-sapping tyre-munching ride. Otherwise laaa-vely.

UNMETALLED ROADS varies from lung-choking dust to hub-sinking mud and from loch-sized water-filled potholes to super slinky smooth.

VOLUME OF VEHICULAR TRAFFIC:

Far from a cyclist’s paradise in this department. For a country reputedly full of sheep there’s an awful lot of cars and volumes vary from constant flow to sporadic flurries based on ferry timetables or rugged remoteness of road.

ATTITUDES & SKILL (OR NOT) OF DRIVERS:

Diabolical! Worst ever experienced! The majority seem convinced that the only place for a cyclist is in the ditch and if you’re not in it, they will soon put you there. In essence, Kiwis drive too fast, too close and oncoming vehicles love overtaking directly into your path. Poo Bah to them, I say!

* WARNING: Fat-exhaust boy racers abound, as do drink drivers. (Age drivers can drive: 15. Result: lots crashes, lots boy racers, lots of madness.

Native Fern

Native Fern

GENERAL STANDARD OF CAMPGROUNDS:

Top notch. Most have kitchens with fridges / freezers / ovens / hobs / microwaves / gas barbeques and instant boiling water ‘zip’ machines which saves a lot on ye olde camp fuel.

WILD CAMPING:

Find a bit of ‘bush’, look this way, look that way, make sure no-one else is looking or lurking, then dive on in.

EVOCATIVE SOUNDS OF BUSH CAMPING:

Squabbling possums hissing, morepork owls moreporking, heavy rain, heavy wind, howling rain, howling wind, crash of falling branches, gushing rivers rising, distant squeal of boy-racers (yes, they get everywhere).

PEOPLE:

In a general generalising sort of way, of course: frank, ‘matey’ and to use one of their oft-used expressions ‘good as gold’. (That’s before they get behind the wheel).

DOWNFALL:

They think that anyone who rides a loaded bike around their wildly mountainous land: nuts! (How wrong could they be?)

The Mountain

The Mountain

QUIRK No. 1:

A fetish for sporting short welly boots (often white) which they remove before entering country stores / garages / pubs etc.

QUIRK No. 2:

If they’re not welly-booted they’re bare-footed – even in the middle of winter in the middle of the street in the middle of the rain. Must be a back-to-nature mother-earth sort of thing.

GENERAL UNPLEASANTRIES AND ANNOYANCES:

Possums; boy racers; unrollable toilet paper dispensers in public lavs; sandflies.

GENERAL COUNTRYSIDE QUIRK:

For a land reputedly full of sheep there’s an awful lot of cows.

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New Zealand update

Have now washed up back in Auckland after floating in a cycling fashion (yes, it was all a bit wet) through the middle of North Island via Taranaki (New Zealand’s Mount Fuji).

After barely venturing further than north of Reading or south of Romsey, Gary (the builder) has finally taken large leap into the unknown by boarding his first large flying object to land with trusty Roberts touring machine on opposite side of the world into icicle-laden tent.

We’re now on our wintry way heading up to the northernmost tip of North Island where the Tasman Sea meets the mighty Pacific with (on a wild day) a 10 metre high wall of waves.

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

HUMPBACK WHALE, BREACHING

The most friendly, playful and perhaps intelligent of the whales, these large mammals are popular attractions in the Southern Oceans. This one is ‘breaching’. That’s when they leap out of the water, as dolphins do. This exposes their huge pectoral fins, which they are famous for. They are group oriented, which pays off when hunting schools of fish, using cordons of bubbles to confuse the fish.

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