Better known as Sussie Sussie (and from her time with women’s track team Velociposse), Zuzanna Ciszewska has publicly announced her intention to attempt to break the record for most miles cycled in a year by a female rider – inspired by Billie Fleming, who set the current record of 29,603.7 miles right back in 1938, and Kajsa Tylen, who is is spending 2016 attempting to set a new record of 36,000 miles.
Currently waiting for her record application to be approved, Suzie is likely to begin her attempt on the 1st of January in 2017.
Billie famously continued to receive letters from fans telling her she’d inspired them to take up cycling, right up to her death in 2014. You’ve been inspired to attempt the record by her; why do you think a record set almost eight decades ago (before most of our grandparents were born!) continues to inspire female cyclists today?
I think we need to give all the credit to Billie. The record she has set is an incredible achievement and what is most important setting the record wasn’t her goal. For her it was all about inspiring women and promoting healthy lifestyle hence it is so inspirational.
For me personally, I would like to inspire other people to take up this amazing sport and I believe this makes it an aim in itself. Cycling is so much more than just trying to get as many QOMs/KOMs on each ride. Don’t get me wrong, I love when I load the ride and they magically pop up, but for me when I ride I have time to think, relax and prepare. It gives me clarity for life. I also love days when we ride in a group, chatting and stopping for coffee and cake. This camaraderie makes it special for me.
Bikes have changed a little bit since Billie set off on her three-speed Rudge-Whitworth. What will you be riding?
I must admit I haven’t decided yet which bike I will ride. I am still in the process of testing things and trying to figure out what will work best for me. I have two beautiful bikes that are the complete opposite. My pink one – aka “Pink Thunder” – was built by Condor and is the cutest thing you’ll ever see! It is very special to me as being 5ft tall it’s hard to find a bike “off the shelf” that will fit so well. And it’s got 650c wheels! I absolutely adore it.
The other one I have is my black carbon – aka “The Beast”. I built it with the help of my boyfriend, for racing, so it has very aggressive set up. Everytime I ride it it feels like I’ve put on my Sunday best. She is fast but because it’s such a racy set up I can just about manage a 60km commute on it, any longer than that and it gets slightly uncomfortable. She’s definitely not the greatest choice for endurance rides but I love the look and sound of the wheels (kindly built for me by my boyfriend)!
In order to equal Billie’s record, a rider needs to cover more than 81miles for every day of the year – a massive undertaking. As a competitive cyclist you’ve obviously already got a very high level of fitness, but what training will you undergo for the record attempt?
What Billie achieved is truly breath-taking and challenging. For me I will have to be clever about my daily distance as I will be working full-time as well as trying to break the record. So there will be days where I will ride less and will have to compensate on the weekends and holidays.
I think I am as far from a competitive cyclist as it’s possible to be – as I’ve never raced. I love the idea though and probably after the attempt this will be on my agenda. In terms of training for me it’s all about putting the miles in. I have quite a long commute – 60km a day and it’s a case of making sure I’m slightly extending it and doing it regularly. At the weekends I will be doing long, steady miles and learning to enjoy riding on my own. And there is still plenty for me to learn about recovery. I think I need to make friends with my foam roller again.
Kajsa Tylen is aiming for 36,000km. If she achieves that distance, will you be aiming to beat to beat her record?
That’s the goal, but if she goes further than that it will be really hard for me. As I have mentioned I will be in full-time work so time is my limit.
Billie gave numerous talks during her attempt, quite an achievement in itself after so long in the saddle. If invited, will you do the same? [I’ll add a link to the contact section of your website here]
I would love to! For me its all about promoting this great sport and as long as time constraints enable me I will attempt to meet with everybody. And if there’s some cake or pizza I’ll defo be there 😉 (If you’d be interested in having Suzie come to talk at your club, school or event, you can contact her via her record attempt website – don’t forget the cake and pizza)
Finally, Billie was sponsored by her bike manufacturer and the chocolate manufacturer Cadbury, while Kajsa has several backers. Who are your sponsors?
I haven’t really approached anyone for the sponsoring yet, apart from the company I work for – I’m sure they will support me as pain and suffering are core to the business, and I think there will be plenty of that! If I had a choice I would love to work with local bike shops to help promote them. They are usually the most friendly and helpful and so supportive. I would be over the moon if I could work with one of the British bike makers. I love bikes made by Feather Cycles, Brian Rourke and obviously Condor Cycles but I’m all about promoting less well-known known brands as well. In essence, please do get in touch if you’d like to sponsor me all the help will be hugely appreciated.
(All photos used above supplied by Suzie, please do not reuse without permission)
A record attempt such as this is guaranteed to attract significant interest, with a large number of women’s cycling fans – who grow in number each year – following Suzie throughout the year. As such, it offers potentially very high returns for relatively little investment