Josie Dew blogs about a driver who was far too flash

Josie Dew far from home on top of a hill in the USA

Josie Dew blogs about a driver who was far too flash

Cycling UK Vice President and adventure cyclist Josie Dew has cycled across four continents. In her second blog post, she talks about encountering danger closer to home when a man indecently exposed himself to her as she cycled up a hill.

My encounter with Mr horn-blasting Pepper Pig Porshe got me thinking about the hill where this commotion took place. I’ve lived close to this hill all my life and I worked out that I have cycled up it over 8000 times. As the hill is exactly a mile from bottom to top this 8000 times is 8000 miles, that's equivalent to cycling across America two-and-a-half times - but uphill.

For several years, pre-children, when I was writing my cycling books, I would ride up this hill six or more times a day. My method for book-writing was to head out on my bike anywhere between 5 and 6am to expel a good hour or more of energy before picking up a pen or, when I progressed more technologically, to tapping away at a laptop. First thing every day whatever the weather I would pound up this hill, ride along the crest for three miles before plunging back down into the valley towards home. Then I would do it all over again, attempting a faster lap the second time round. Only then could I sit still writing away for five or more hours without feeling all fidgety. Early afternoon I’d get another two laps under my belt before another five hours of writing. Then another two or three laps in the evening before sitting and writing into the night. Each lap is 8 miles so I would ride over 50 miles a day along the same bit of road just to keep me sane between all the sitting.

In all those 8000 times that I’ve cycled up this hill (not to mention all the hundreds of times that I have gone up by foot - I used to run up this hill but in the past decade pram-pushing, along with cycling, has taken over as the necessary mode of transport) I’ve only had two unpleasant incidents. Two incidents in 8000 miles is a pretty good tally. Most drivers have been courteous and respectful. A few have passed too close, too fast or tried a risky manoeuvre on one of the three blind bends, but in the main most motorists have behaved well.

So what were the two incidents? One was the recent horn-blasting hare-brained ninny that I recently wrote about. The other occurred back in the summer of 1991.

I was 25 and in the middle of writing my first book The Wind in my Wheels. I had not long returned home after having spent several months away cycling alone across Western and Eastern Europe to Turkey. My intended destination had been Egypt but I was in the midst of cycling across Turkey when Iraq very inconveniently decided to invade Kuwait. As I didn’t fancy a scud missile landing on my tent (I had planned to cycle down to Egypt through Syria, Jordon and Israel) I aborted mission by doing a U-turn back through Greece, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica and France.

Back home I moved out of Mum and Dad’s for the summer as a local potter friend offered me the use of her quiet secluded and very basic hut in the woods to live in while I wrote my book. While writing at this hut I would head off through the valley on my daily multiple rides.

The man, who must have been in his early thirties, drove off up the hill. But I had a feeling I hadn’t seen the last of him. And I was right.

Josie Dew, Cycling UK Vice President.

It was on one of these rides while cycling up through the trees near the bottom of the hill that I was overtaken very slowly by a man in a car. As the car passed I glanced at him and he looked at me but I immediately knew that his look was no ordinary look. There was something in his eyes that I didn’t like. I may have been only 25 but I had spent enough time cycling alone around the world to sense in a brief second whether I liked the look of someone or not. The man, who must have been in his early thirties, drove off up the hill. But I had a feeling I hadn’t seen the last of him. And I was right.

At the top of the wooded hill he had pulled over by a five-bar gate where people park to walk their dogs. He was standing on the far side of the car behind the open driver’s door and watched me intently as I rode up the last bit of hill. As I drew level he suddenly stepped out from behind the door revealing what he had in his hand: a part of his anatomy in a state of elevation.

In the ten or so years that I had spent cycling in various nooks and crannies around the world I had come across more men exposing their wares to me at the side of the road than I could shake a bike pump at. Sometimes the situations and locations were frightening and sometimes they weren’t. But here, at the top of this hill, instead of feeling intimidated as this man had probably hoped, I just felt very annoyed that he had the blinking cheek to do this in my home territory of all fine places!

So I stopped my bike, took a notebook and pen out of my handlebar bag and proceeded to Plod-like write down his licence plate number. I have never seen a pair of boxer shorts being pulled up so fast. He then hurled himself into the vehicle and tried to run me over.

Quickly I threw myself to the side of the road as he roared off into the distance. I took off at high speed down the other side of the hill and rode five miles in record time to the nearest police station where I reported the incident to the officer on duty. I gave the officer a full description, head to toe as requested, and though the police never caught Mr-Tool-in-Hand-Man I luckily never saw any part of him ever again.

Josie Dew is the Vice President of Cycling UK and an author and cycling adventurer. For more information on her bikes, books and bits and bobs take a look at her website www.josiedew.com

If this ever happens to you the advice from the police is "if the crime taking place or you see someone acting suspiciously please ensure your own personal safety before calling 999. Call 101 for non-emergency issues or to report a crime that has taken place. The police will take this sort of crime seriously and it is important that it is reported".

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