On 29 May 2022, I’ll be taking on the Ride London-Essex 100-mile challenge. I probably should’ve started this blog by saying I am not a cyclist, the furthest I have ever cycled is about 30 miles for Farleigh Hospice and, until recently, I’d never worn lycra!
I’m Scott Hornsby, I work in the Communications and Marketing team as a Senior Social Media Adviser and have been here for close to 18 months. I, like many people at Essex County Council (ECC) who started bang in the middle of the pandemic, have still yet to meet the full team and still get lost when wandering around County Hall.
My role consists of building the strategy for the ECC corporate social media channels and helping them to evolve as channels adapt and new ones appear. On a day-to-day basis, the rest of the social media team and I would be delivering content for campaigns and BAU (business as usual), supporting services in social media delivery, producing, editing and sharing videos, photography and assets to our social channels and planning on how our resident facing platforms can share the wealth of information we have in a social way.
Across the team, we all work on a campaign and, earlier in 2022, it was mentioned that Essex would be hosting RideLondon-Essex and I was asked to join the team delivering the campaign to deliver social media. Then, two weeks later, I was all signed up for a 100-mile cycle!
It was not my intention at first to try and do something I have never done before but, after failed attempts at doing anything new during lockdowns, I decided ‘What the hell what’s the worst that could happen?’
Now normally I’m pretty organised, both at work and in my personal life, friends will tell you I’m always the host and am generally the ‘dad’ at all outings. But on this occasion, I missed the ballot and thought I’d missed out on the ride.
Then I thought about doing it for charity, but it had to be one that meant something to me. I am happy and open to say that I have experienced mental health problems in the past, sometimes going within myself and shutting friends and family away – even though deep down I knew that they were the ones that could help me the most, if only I was prepared to open up to them. I’m not sure if I didn’t open up because of the way I was raised (be a man!) or because I was ashamed of myself, but what time has taught me – and seeing so many people become more open, is that you are not alone, you are not the only one suffering and there are people willing to listen – not solve your issues, but to listen and be that sounding board.
So, a little research later and I managed to secure a Ride London-Essex place for Mind. All I had to do now was raise £500 – £250 and I get my very own Mind cycling jersey, oh, and get training! Here’s a brief rundown on how that went.
13 weeks to go, no sweat, there’s loads of time, I’ll check out some training programmes. 11 weeks to go, right, time to get out on the bike. On my first journey out and I had planned out a 14-mile ride. It was cold, I really didn’t have the right equipment and about two thirds into the ride, I hit London Hill in Margaretting, which is a 260ft climb in only 0.3 miles – that’ll teach me to not check routes properly! I had to get off the bike, walk up the hill and say good morning to smiling cyclist as they flew past me!
Then a superhero found me, kind of. I found the RideLondon Cycling Group on Facebook and found more people like me that had also just started out, but also thousands of friendly and strong cyclists offering advice. Not only that, some new cycling friends.
It was time to get some equipment. I now have a proper road bike (borrowed from a friend, thanks Si), cleats, leggings, gloves…. the list goes on. I am now officially a middle-aged-man in lycra!
These cycling friends and I have been on a couple of 35-mile rides around Essex, helping me get my average mph up from 10.5 to 13.5. Over the past two weeks, I’ve met another group and I managed my first 55-mile ride (which I’ve now managed twice). We had a great food break in Rayne and riding with a big group makes a huge difference – drafting is a thing (where you cycle behind someone, using their slipstream)!
My next goal whilst training is to hit 70 miles and then, I’ve been told, the crowd, the occasion, the drafting and just knowing you’re only 30 miles away from completing will get you to the end.
I was told that this could be an addictive and expensive sport, they’re not wrong, but I’m loving it. I’ll definitely be trading in my hybrid for a new road bike and will be checking out the National Cycle to Work Scheme.
Now I couldn’t write this and not ask for two things.
- If you’re out and about during the day of Sunday 29 May, come and cheer on every single person out there raising thousands for charity
- Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week (9- 13 May). And if you feel like sponsoring me, with all money going direct to the mental health charity Mind, you can visit my Just Giving page.