Josh Quigley targets Tour de France victory as his next ambitious challenge

On taking up cycling in his early twenties as a way of managing his mental health issues and drinking problems, he promptly decided to cycle around the world. 

His subsequent challenges have included the North Coast 500 and the distance covered in one-week, both of which he set world records for. 

So, it is perhaps no surprise that his next target is ambitious, to say the least. 

“There’s never been a Scottish winner of the Tour de France, so that’s my big goal now,” he says.  

“It’s not something I think I can do tomorrow but in five or so years, I really think I can get to that level.” 

It is quite a statement from Quigley, whose journey to this point has been far from orthodox. 

Despite being into cycling as a very young kid, he did, he admits, “get lost along the way” and as a teenager, his time was spent going out drinking, with cycling the furthest thing from his mind. 

His drinking problems spiralled and his mental health deteriorated, leading, in 2015, to a suicide attempt in his car that, says Quigley, “should have killed him”. 

Against the odds, he survived, and that moment became a turning point for the Livingston man. 

It was then he began cycling and set himself the lofty target of cycling around the world. 

“I wasn’t fit when I started but I hated life and so having a goal like that gave me a lot of drive,” he says.  

“I had so much desire to turn things around and I just knew with my environment in Scotland, things weren’t going to get better there. 

“I needed to get away from that so cycling around the world was the perfect solution at that time.” 

His attempt was cut cruelly short when he was knocked off his bike in Texas just before Christmas 2019, suffering serious injuries. 

Undeterred, he was back on his bike within a matter of weeks and just nine months later, set a new world record for the North Coast 500. 

A second serious crash, this time in Dubai in January of this year, planted doubts in his mind as to whether or not this was really the life he wanted. 

It was merely a wobble, however. 

“After the Dubai crash, I remember thinking I’m done with this. To come back after one crash was fine but I felt like that part of my story was done so to be back there again so soon was hard,” he says.  

“But then after a couple of days, I was lying in bed thinking ‘what else are you going to do?’  

“I started imagining coming back from two crashes in two years with two world records. So since that moment, I’ve not looked back.” 

Quigley’s initial attempt at the one-week world record ended halfway due to injury but his second attempt last month was successful, setting a new record of 2179.66 miles which was, he admits, more of a relief than anything after the record attempt having dominated his thoughts for the entire year. 

To have the status of a world record holder is in stark contrast to Quigley’s teenage life but perhaps unusually, he is not surprised by the success he has achieved in recent years. 

“If you’d told me when I was 15 I was going to succeed in life, I wouldn’t have been surprised because I always knew I was going to do something big with my life. But if you’d have told me it was going to be in cycling, I’d have thought you were mad,” he says. 

“This fits my personality though; I’m totally addicted to what I’m doing.  

“In two and a half years, I’ve gone from being a very amateur cyclist to setting world records and being one of the best ultra-endurance riders on the planet.  

“It’s crazy to think, but anything I do, I want to be the best I can be at it.  

“I’m obsessive about things but I don’t think that’s necessarily a negative trait. 

“Being such an obsessive person can be a bad thing if it manifests in drugs or alcohol or things like that but if you channel it into something good, like cycling, you can achieve a lot.” 

Quigley has already turned his attention to his next challenge of becoming a pro cyclist. 

Being part of the peloton and racing internationally is a far cry from the solo efforts Quigley has so far undertaken but he is in no doubt that while adapting will be a challenge, he is well suited to that kind of bike riding. 

And so, all going to plan, it could be an exciting couple of years for the Scot. 

“In the Tour de France, they cycle 2200 miles in three weeks; I’ve just done that in seven days,” he says.  

“I’ve got the endurance and the stamina so what I really need now is learn how to race.  

“I need to learn how to ride in the peloton, learn tactics and everything else that comes with racing.  

“I think I’m born for that kind of environment much more than the solo attempts though, so it’s very exciting.” 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992