Scottish cyclist Josh Quigley has shaved just minutes off the record for the North Coast 500 route. In a nail-biting finish, the 28-year-old rode the 516-mile Inverness-to-Inverness road circuit in north-west Scotland in 31 hours, 19 minutes and 8 seconds. He beat the previous time by 4 minutes and 27 seconds.
The new fastest time, which is yet to be ratified by Guinness World Records, took place nine months after he suffered life-threatening injuries when he was hit by a car travelling at 70mph in North America.
Josh, of Livingston, only began cycling four years ago. After the NC500 record ride, he said: “Arriving back in Inverness, at the castle, was such a special moment.”
First two-thirds in ‘comfort zone’
The North Coast 500 is a tough endurance challenges with some 34,423ft (10,492m) of ascent.
Josh admits that he probably rode the first 20 hours a “little too easily”. He said: “I’d done a long-distance training ride about a month before the NC500 and I had gone too hard at the start. That meant the last stages were horrible.
“So, this time I took it easy, staying in my comfort zone, for the first 20 or so hours.
“But with 10 hours to go, I suddenly realised I’d need to up my pace. I left myself a lot to do to break the record. I was also sleep deprived by then and that made it harder.
“As I closed in on Inverness for the finish, I could see it was going to be a minute either way, either I’d break the record or I wouldn’t. I had to go for it then.”
Fund-raiser for Texan hospital
Josh, who has spoken openly about depression and suicide attempt when he was younger, also had to overcome horrendous injuries during a round-the-world cycle in December 2019.
He was hit by a vehicle Texas and had operations on a broken heel and ankle, as well as needing a stent fitted in an artery in his neck.
He had planned to be well enough to get back to the world cycle but then the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Looking for a challenge, Josh said the NC500 seemed like an obvious choice. He also wanted to thank the medics who cared and supported him while he was at Baylor Scott & White Medical Centre.
He said: “I was on my own in Texas when the accident happened. I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the care of the hospital. The doctors and nurses also became like a family to me over the months.
“I decided to fund-raise for them and I am closing in on my target of £5000 in donations and sponsorship for the NC500 record.”
How Josh broke the record
Josh did training rides on the NC500 route so he was familiar with the challenge. He also had a support team with two cars, a bike mechanic and a nutritionist.
Josh said: “Basically all I had to do was ride my bike. Someone handed my the right amount of food at exactly the right time. I had someone on hand to fix my bike if I needed that.”
The weather was also sunny and with little wind. “It was perfect,” said Josh.
Despite the support and good conditions, Josh described the last section of the ride as very tough.
He said: “I’d cycled through the night and there was about 11.5 hours of darkness. I lost my bearings a bit and while I know the route well, I couldn’t work out where I was at times.
“You also get to the point where you don’t want to eat anything. For the final five hours I couldn’t stomach anything. Even after the ride I didn’t want to eat anything.”
As Josh closed in on Inverness, he watched the time slipping by, unsure whether he had enough left to break the record.
Josh said: “I knew it was going to be so close. The closer I go to Inverness, the more obvious it became that it would be just minutes inside or outside the previous record set by James.
“I imagine people were watching the tracker and wondering if I would do it.
“I had left it all for the final part and I had to give it my all.
“As I rode towards Inverness there was a convoy of cars and my support team were trying to find me the best route to reach the finish.
“It was so uncertain if I would do it but that also added to the excitement.
“Then I crossed the bridge in Inverness and I think I knew I would just make it then. It felt incredible to see the streets full of people all cheering me on. It was amazing to get to the castle and know I’d done it.”
Also read: NC500 female record set.