Building Resilience – Interview with Josh Quigley, World Record Holder

Resilience is a skill that most professionals require at points throughout their careers. An individual who has resilience in abundance is Josh Quigley, who completes various cycling challenges throughout the world. Josh had recently attempted the Guinness World Record for Greatest Distance Cycled in One Week – Unpaced in April 2021, however, this attempt was halted due to injury. Josh was able to overcome the challenge and managed to achieve the world record at his second attempt made in September and clocking an amazing at 2,179 miles in a 7-day period!

Josh has completed various cycling challenges throughout the world. However, unfortunately, Josh was struck by a car whilst attempting a challenge across America in 2019, in which he sustained major injuries.

Tell us about your crash in America and discuss the recovery process from this

The crash was devastating as I was hit by a car at 70mph. I now on occasion watch cars navigate through motorways and consider this was a similar speed to what I was struck by one – viewing this gives me perspective on the crash and the severity of it. I was determined to overcome this challenge and get back to cycling as soon as I physically could.

What were the injuries you suffered?

As a result of the crash, I had sustained – a fractured skull, a traumatic brain injury, 7 broken ribs, a punctured lung, multiple fractures in my back, ankle and my heel – all amounting to needing 3 major surgeries to recover. I was in rehabilitation for a period of 5 weeks.

Tell us about your early life in Scotland

There were two sides to myself.

Firstly, I was a troublemaker and as such wasn’t focused in my early years.

Secondly – I’ve always had big ambitions, with a lot of determination. My main ambition was to be an entrepreneur and my main idol was my father, who worked at a bank in a high managerial position. My father gave me Richard Branson’s book and reading this inspired me to aim to fulfil my ambition of being a successful entrepreneur.

Tell us how your ambition worked out for you

I decided to go to university to study Business and whilst in my third year on my degree I was required to fulfil a work placement as part of my course. As I wasn’t able to obtain a placement, my degree allowed me to run a ‘Live Project’ where this allowed me to complete a project for a business. I engaged in a project with Exolta, where I was able to meet Russell Dalgleish. I aimed to be an outstanding candidate by highlighting my qualities and skills. This led to being offered an internship during the summer break between my 3rd and 4th years at university in which I was tasked with completing a variety of digital marketing assignments. Russell was encouraged by the success of these assignments and as such suggested that we should create a new business. I created the company – with the slightly ridiculous name for the company, Shark Dog – in which we were able to come up with an interesting brand story that was associated with the business. As a result of this, I was awarded as ‘Young Entrepreneur’ at the Forth Valley Business Awards.

Tell us about what happened to you in May 2015

During the period of December 2014, unfortunately, my long-term partner of a number of years and I decided to end the relationship and it was a period I really struggled with mentally. This led to me getting into bad habits, during which I had a number of suicidal thoughts throughout. This eventually furthered to me attempting suicide in May 2015 by crashing my car.

What had attracted you to cycling, after this period?

After my suicide attempt, I was able to recover in hospital very swiftly, I attempted to contemplate what had just happened. It was a slow process – I did not recover mentally instantly, however, I was determined to turn my life around. In September 2015 I had a conversation with my business mentor, Alan Bonner, in which we discussed my predicament, I was able to identify that it was up to myself as an individual to implement changes to my lifestyle. I went along to a Business Event in Edinburgh that Chris Hoy was speaking at, I was so inspired by Chris’s presentation that it prompted me to take up cycling and further develop my fitness in order to cycle around the world.

What would you say overall you are most proud of?

Taking responsibility for my life, by making changes in my life and having the courage to follow a different lifestyle to others around me. Initially I had some criticism about telling my story and going on with my cycling journey.

What is your advice to people who are struggling mentally right now?

I would suggest you need to realise depression doesn’t last forever – maintain belief that your circumstances will change, and you will feel better eventually.

Take responsibility for your life, nobody is going to go through life without a difficult period and therefore, you need to accept responsibility for challenges that come your way.

Make changes and actions that are beneficial for your life.

What would you say to people who are currently feeling the effects of home working and getting into an unhealthy lifestyle?

Health and wellbeing are the foundation. If I don’t eat well or do training it can lead to me having recurring negative thoughts. Therefore, I would suggest encouraging yourself to eat well and maintain exercise throughout the day to maintain a positive mindset.

You have suggested having ambitious goals and one of these bold goals is winning the Tour de France, how are you preparing for this and when do you think you’ll achieve it?

I aim to do this in 2026, in which I would be the first Scottish winner. I have always had a massive sense of ambition and therefore, this has sparked this aim to win the Tour de France eventually. I have had many challenges throughout life, therefore, believe this is another challenge that I can overcome.

Do you feel people can reach more ambitious goals as a team rather than trying to complete these as an individual?

I strongly agree that individuals are able to achieve higher goals as team. I am not going to be able to win the Tour de France by myself – I need a team around me to support me to complete my goals. An effective team starts with a clear vision that enables others to be encouraged to get involved and contribute to this vision.

What are your two standout locations around the world?

Australia was a significant location for me, the time it came around was really significant too – as it was just after a challenging ride throughout Asia in which English was not the main form of communication – therefore, this posed a massive challenge for me as I was isolated.

America would be the second location due to the experience I had throughout my recovery period as a result of my crash, the level of care I was provided with is an aspect I am eternally grateful for and as part of my North Coast 500 attempt I fundraised for the hospital that treated me.

With thanks to Josh Quigley.