Josh Quigley’s story is unique: With 16,000 miles completed of his round the world adventure he gets knocked off his bike and seriously injured. Now he’s back to take care of some unfinished business…
Sometimes the travel experience of epic adventures can get lost in the data. So, in this interview with Josh I wanted to go a little deeper than the numbers, and learn more of his experience, of the places he passed and the impressions he took along the road.
Questions to Josh
You’re very close to a huge achievement. How does that make you feel?
It’s a funny one because although I am very close, I am also still very far away. Back in December, I was cycling across America and only a few thousand miles away from completing my round the world cycle. Then I got hit by a car in Texas. I was hospitalised and in rehab for 5 weeks.
I had a very long list of injuries, and I’m still recovering from them. So right now, my main focus is on rehabilitation. I’m back cycling again but only able to do about an hour or two each day which is challenging for me.
But I am incredibly fortunate to be alive, and I will fully recover. So I’m grateful for that and counting down the days until I can get back out there and finish the challenge.
Any sections of your trip so impressive you’ll just have to ride them again?
Australia and America were both pretty special for me. These were the two countries I wanted to visit most, and they didn’t disappoint. I spent a lot of time last year in countries where not many people spoke English.
After a long period in Asia, I really enjoyed getting to Australia and America as I was a lot more connected socially. I got to meet and speak to a lot more people than I did in countries where English wasn’t spoken.
I was going pretty fast by the time I got to America and Australia. I was doing something like 13 or 14 hours a day and cycling over 200 miles. So one day when I’m older I’d love to go back and do it a little slower—spend more time getting to see the countries and more time with the people that I meet along the way.
When did you feel you needed a custom bike and how might it help other cyclists?
I wasn’t on a custom bike at the start. I rode most of the challenge last year on a Genesis Tour De Fer. But I was hit at 70mph in that accident—so the bike was pretty much destroyed.
After this incident, Shand Cycles came forward and offered to give me a new bike. This is the custom-built bike I now have, and I will use it to finish the challenge. The main difference on this bike is that it has a dynamo hub. This means I can power and charge electronics through the front wheel.
That’s a big deal when doing ultra-endurance as keeping devices charged is one of the main challenges. So I’m looking forward to using this bike as power will be one less thing to think about each day.
If you are doing ultra-endurance, I would highly recommend it. It helps you keep lighter as you don’t have to carry more power banks and it’s also a time saver each day.
Countries and cultures pass by. What has surprised you or inspired you along the route?
I was inspired by how welcoming and friendly the people were to me. People welcomed me and greeted me in every country I was in. I don’t usually drink tea or coffee, but I had more cups of tea cycling in Asia than I’ve had in my entire life.
This was just because so many people would offer a cup to me. I’ve got a million stories of locals greeting me like this, and I’ve been given all sorts of foods, drinks and things along the way by the people whose villages I passed through.
Which countries did you feel most safe in when cycling?
I felt safe everywhere. There weren’t any countries where I ever felt unsafe. As I said, people welcomed me everywhere I went, and I got a great reception in all the countries I travelled through.
Ironically the countries where people told me not to go ended up being the best—Albania, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and China. Some of these countries were the safest and friendliest places I’ve been to.
I think because not that many people visit these places compared to some other countries, the people really appreciated it and let me know.
You’re sponsored by a CBD oil company. How have you used their products to aid your recovery?
I love CBD, and it’s been a massive help to me in the last year since I started working with Elixinol. I’ve found that the product helps with my overall physical fitness and more specifically, my recovery.
After doing 200 miles on the bike each day, recovery for the following day is one of the most important things. I always find that when I’m taking CBD, my recovery is generally better and faster than the times when I’ve not had it.
Aside from the physical benefits, I find that CBD really helps me mentally, and I always feel a lot more relaxed and chilled out after taking it.
I do have quite a busy mind, and I’m a guy who lives life pretty fast at the best of times, so I find that CBD helps to bring me down a little bit and I feel more grounded after taking it
(Josh’s sponsors Elixinol have given us a 30% discount. If you’re interested in CBD products check this link to use the code: AWE30 for 30% discount)
Do you have any tips to stay focused and comfortable on ultra long days in the saddle?
I’ve always been fortunate that I’ve never really had any problems being comfortable on the bike. I developed a system for riding that incorporates how long I’ll be riding, and when I have breaks. As a general rule, I try to cycle for three or four hours and then stop for a 20 or 30 minute break—depending on what I need to do that day.
There were obviously some places where this was more difficult—for example when I was riding across the desert in Uzbekistan, and there was nothing for over 100km. But in America and Australia, this worked pretty well for me as there was always gas stations and fast food stops along the way.
McDonald’s is my secret weapon. It’s not the healthiest food but when doing ultra-endurance it’s worked a treat for me. Every time I stop, I know exactly what I’m getting.
It saves me so much time each day which really makes the difference. I reckon I probably save about 30 to 60 minutes each day by doing this. Just in case you are curious, my usual meal is two double cheeseburgers, large fries, large cola and ice cream. I have this maybe three or four times a day on a typical day. You can sort of get away with it when you are burning 8,000 calories each day!
Bikepacking and adventure biking is increasingly popular. Do you have a gear setup you always use or does it evolve?
My setup has really evolved over the years. When I first started, I had the traditional four panniers and one big camping bag on the back. But at the end of last year, I didn’t have any panniers, and I ditched the camping equipment too.
All I had was three handlebar bags that attached onto the frame of the bike. I was set up for speed, so going as light as possible was the aim.
I am lucky—because of my sponsorship from Elixinol, I can afford to stay in hotels each night. That really helped with not having to carry camping equipment. I also didn’t need to cook my own food and was able to eat out all the time, so I didn’t need to carry cooking equipment.
I don’t carry any spare clothes and only have the clothes I ride in and a light windproof in case it rains. The only other things I took was my passport, bank cards, chargers, some spare tools, tubes and a toothbrush. I am extremely minimalist, and it really helps keep the bike light and helps me go faster.
And I have to ask: How would you feel If I passed you on an e-bike?
You wouldn’t. Nobody passes me!!
Thanks Josh, and good luck!
Disclaimer: This is a piece paid for by Elixinol. We’re really careful who we work with on content like this; it’s got to be genuinely of interest to our readers, or we don’t do it.