AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two years ago, Josh Quigley’s dream of riding his bicycle around the world was crushed under the wheels of a car traveling 70 mph in Temple.
Quigley knows he is lucky to have survived the horror crash, which surprisingly led to Texas earning a special place in his heart.
“Thanks to the people of Texas,” he said as he returned to Austin on Wednesday. “This is a place that has become very special to me.”
In 2019, the cyclist was competing in an around-the-world ride when his attempt came to a sudden and brutal end.
Quigley was hit from behind by a vehicle in Temple, with the vehicle knocking him 50 feet through the air.
“I don’t know how I survived that, to be honest,” he said.
Quigley was hospitalized for weeks with multiple injuries including a fractured skull, seven broken ribs and a fractured ankle, leading to three major surgeries.
But while some people might consider hanging up their bicycle helmet after such a scare, Quigley used it as motivation to reach greater heights.
“People think I’m a bit crazy when I say this, but getting hit by a car in America was genuinely one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
“Something I’ve always done in my life is take the negatives and turn them into positives. I’ve taken the worst things that have happened to me and turned them into really good things.”
While recovering from his injuries at Texas NeuroRehab Center in south Austin, Quigley vowed to come back stronger – and just three months later, he felt ready to return to elite distance cycling.
Unfortunately, that was March 2020, when the world was beginning to shut down due to COVID-19.
Riding in his native Scotland, a recovered Quigley broke two world records. He set the fastest time to cycle a 516-mile route around the Scottish Isles, then earned the record for the greatest distance cycled in one week – 2,179 miles, or 311 miles per day.
Now, he’s resuming the challenge that he came so close to finishing two years ago – riding around the world, which requires cyclists to ride for 18,000 miles.
“This is a goal that’s been in my life for the last five years,” Quigley said.
“I had seven attempts at trying to cycle around the world – seven times I tried it, and seven times I failed. Here I am, lucky number eight, and this time I’m going to finish it.”
Fittingly, the American leg of his journey will begin in Temple, on Friday. He will ride 1,800 miles from Central Texas to Times Square in New York City, with the solo adventure taking about nine days.
“It’s just me and the bike on the road each day,” he explained. “I have to carry everything that I need, all my food, all my water, clothes, towels, things to fix the bike – everything that I need has to be on that bike.”
Afterward, he will fly to Portugal and will ride from Lisbon to Edinburgh – planning to complete his challenge and be home by Christmas Eve.
On Wednesday, Quigley returned to visit staff at Texas NeuroRehab Center.
Pat Adams, a registered nurse/clinic liaison at the center, reflected on his positive mindset when he arrived at the facility.
“Once he got here he exceeded everyone’s expectations,” she said. “But I think that’s the mindset of an athlete like Josh.
“He was not walking. He had a huge apparatus because he had an extensive fracture of his left ankle, and he was banged up everywhere. He was bound and determined that he was going to get through this, and he pretty much did.”
The center has worked with other elite athletes in the past, including legendary University of Texas running back Earl Campbell.