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Cycling for Change

In our most recent podcast (if you haven’t already listened, check it out here!), we spoke to cyclist Josh Quigley, who told us his extraordinary and inspiring story, and how his mental health has been transformed by cycling. He is a world record holder who has overcome numerous obstacles on his journey, and now has his sights set on riding the Tour de France, but that’s not who he has always been.


Josh’s story begins far from cycling, amid a mental health crisis. He was at a very low point and attempted to take his own life. His survival was a turning point for him, and despite being out of shape and with no previous experience of cycling, he decided to try something new – cycling around the world.


Josh faced multiple setbacks, and after 6 failed attempts, realised that he had to dig deep if he was going to achieve his goal. His 7th attempt was resolute – there was no way he wasn’t going to finish. Unfortunately, the universe had other ideas, and he was hit by a car at 70mph in America. Having cycled 15,000 miles across 30 countries and 4 continents, he had to pause his journey to recover.


Once healed, Josh returned to the US and finished the last leg of his journey on his 8th attempt, having cycled 26,000 miles. He has also turned himself in to a world record holder – in the gap during covid, Josh set the fastest ever time to complete the North Coast 500. Following that, he broke the record for the greatest distance cycled in one week (2,179 miles in 7 days)   


During Josh’s journey of self-realisation, he also made the decision to give up alcohol for the benefit of his mental wellbeing. His relationship with alcohol wasn’t an addiction, but it was something he was using to escape, and it was resulting in large periods of blank, wasted time that weren’t being lived to the full.


As well as continuing to cycle, Josh tours schools and organisations to share his story and raise awareness of mental health challenges and educate on ways to overcome them. He is also ambassador for several charities and fundraises for them as he cycles.



Aside from being an incredible tale of starting from nowhere to become an elite athlete, the themes of resilience and determination run throughout Josh’s story. To go from being in a place where he felt suicide was the only option to having the resolve and grit to push himself through physical barriers, and overcome the mental hurdles of disappointment, frustration and uncertainty, shows the powerful impact that both exercise and goal setting can have.


It was giving himself a purpose, a reason to be here and something to aim for, that gave Josh his direction. It was understanding what his body was capable of that gave him confidence and self-belief. It was suffering setbacks (whether literal roadblocks that stopped his journey, the physical hurdle of broken bones, or overcoming the disappointment of failure) that taught him how to be more resilient.


All of these things: purpose, resilience, confidence – they are all part of having robust mental health. It doesn’t mean you won’t face difficulties, but it gives you the tools to know how to cope and, importantly, the belief that you will. At times, these attributes can seem like they are so out of reach, that they are for other people to enjoy. But it only takes a small decision to turn the tide and show you what’s possible and what you are capable of.


For Josh, that was getting on a bike. For you, it might be a different physical endeavour. Or a new skill. Or attempting a challenge of your own. The key is to find your thing, whatever that may be. Enjoy the journey of finding it, and embrace the change it can bring you once you have it.

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