St Albans cyclist ready for 3,000-mile challenge across America

Foreground: Shusanah Pillinger (on her bike)
Middle ground (L-R): Erica Ley, Critical Care Paramedi

Foreground: Shusanah Pillinger (on her bike) Middle ground (L-R): Erica Ley, Critical Care Paramedic/RAAM Crew Member and Phil Magnus, RAAM Crew Mechanic Background: Herts Air Ambulance Air Crew - Credit: Archant

Despite being forced to pull out midway through a gruelling race last year due to injury, St Albans cyclist Shusanah Pillinger is preparing for her imminent second attempt.

The Race Across America (RAAM), said to be the World’s Toughest Bicycle Race, starts next Tuesday. It is one of the most well-known endurance sports events in the world, and is notoriously challenging.

Beginning in California, solo participants must cycle 3,000 miles across America to Maryland, with a maximum of 12 days to complete the challenge.

Facing sleep deprivation, extreme weather conditions and difficult terrain including a number of mountain ranges, the race is certainly not for the faint-hearted, a fact that Shusanah knows only too well.

Nine days into the arduous challenge last year, Shusanah fell off her bike. She broke her collar bone and was forced to abandon her attempt. However, she is now fully recovered and ready to face the challenge once again, hoping to become the first British solo female to officially complete the race.

She will be supported by a team of eight people, including Essex and Herts Air Ambulance’s Critical Care Paramedic Erica Ley. Shusanah has chosen to once again fundraise for the Herts Air Ambulance.

Shusanah said: “Last year I was supporting the Herts Air Ambulance whilst taking part in the same race but was unlucky enough to fall from my bike after 2,150 miles, breaking my collarbone. However I was lucky to have my own personal helicopter paramedic in the support crew so was looked after well.

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“Knowing what these guys can do in an emergency, from witnessing it first hand, really makes me want to help contribute to the upkeep of the vital service, so I will once again be fundraising for the Herts Air Ambulance this year. My primary goal is to finish the race and claim the first British solo female record without further incident but it would be fantastic if we could raise more than last year’s total of £8,200 on the way! Every pound donated will help me to keep pedalling.”

Cristina Barone, who is the fundraising coordinator for Herts Air Ambulance, said: “We are absolutely in awe of Shu’s determination and courage for taking on this gruelling challenge for the second time, and for raising money for Herts Air Ambulance along the way. Her story is truly inspiring, and I hope the local community will sponsor her incredible challenge. It is not often that someone will cycle 3,000 miles for a charity, and to do it twice is extraordinary!”