Morgan Pilley tackling one of the most gruelling mountain bike races in the world, the Sellaronda Hero through The Dolomites in Italy.
Morgan Pilley tackling one of the most gruelling mountain bike races in the world, the Sellaronda Hero through The Dolomites in Italy. Sportograf

Pilley punching out the km's for our kids

CYCLING: While the Junction Hill Criterium track is a far cry from the stunning scenery of the Italian mountainside, professional cyclist Morgan Pilley (right) is more excited to ride at that track than anywhere else.

Pilley fresh from a cycling season in Europe for the MJO Legal Racing Team and is excited to tackle his annual 24 Ride for Youth Mental Health today.

Pilley will ride for 24 hours straight around the criterium track as he aims to raise awareness and money for local mental health services backed by the New School of Arts.

"It is great to work with Skye Sear and her team at the New School of Arts,” Pilley said. "They do great work, not only for the youth, but for everyone in the Clarence Valley. I am more than happy to lend any helping hand that I can.”

This is the third year Pilley has completed the 24- hour challenge and after raising close to $7000 last year he is aiming to crack a new barrier.

"I really think we can crack the $10,000 mark,” he said. "We weren't far off it last year and it seems like we have just as much support, if not more, heading into this weekend.

"That sort of money we will use to lobby political figures and bring programs to the Clarence region.

"The Clarence over the past decade has had some terrible statistics in terms of youth mental health and youth suicide. The tide is slowly turning but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Last year Pilley racked up a personal total of 611km in the saddle during the ride but with weather predictions not looking positive, that sort of distance could be a little bit out of reach.

But that will not stop the endurance cyclist from trying to beat his record.

"The weather predictions aren't great, and it will be no fun riding in the rain but it is just something I will need to persevere through,” he said. "It is probably a good metaphor for the struggles our youth are facing.

"If we want them to get through what they are facing, then I can set a good example in this ride.

"I haven't set a goal or distance as yet, but we will need to beat last year. That is the bare minimum.”

But with a lack of training in the past month since the European cycling calendar wrapped up, Pilley will need all the motivation and support the Clarence community can provide.

Last year 79 cyclists joined in on the ride to rack up a combined 6981km but this year the cyclist is hoping more people will come out and join in on his journey for the Clarence youth.