FOR A CAUSE: Yamba’s Morgan Pilley, who bases himself in Italy riding enduarnce mountain-bike events - is preparing for a 24 hour ride around the Junction Hill criterium track to raise money for mental health support services in the Clarence Valley.
FOR A CAUSE: Yamba’s Morgan Pilley, who bases himself in Italy riding enduarnce mountain-bike events - is preparing for a 24 hour ride around the Junction Hill criterium track to raise money for mental health support services in the Clarence Valley. Adam Hourigan

Pilley to ride around clock for mental health

CYCLING: YAMBA'S Morgan Pilley is used to riding through the night alone in the Italian mountains with only a small light to guide him.

Back in Australia for four weeks, he's hoping that many lights will shine on him as he rides continuously for 24 hours around the Junction Hill criterium track to raise money for local youth mental health issues.

"Something I've always wanted to do is to do a charity event back in the local area," Pilley said.

"After speaking with a few of the people back here, and hearing the stats in the Clarence Valley, there have been a lot of problems for young people in the area with regards to mental health.

"I decided it was something that needed to be addressed and tackled head on."

The event will start at midday next Saturday, November 14. Pilley will ride non-stop for 24 hours, and he's encouraging the whole community to come out and show some support.

"The more support I get the better, especially to keep me company riding," he said.

"People can come and do it in a relay team, challenge other groups or race your mates around the track."

Pilley rides for the Santa Marinella team and is based in Umbria, north of Rome. He has completed three 24-hour races this year, but is keen to work on his skills in shorter marathon races.

"The marathons are the short ones, they're only around 50-90 kilometres so you're only on the bikes for five hours," he said.

"I've made my name over there for my results in the 24-hour races, but I'm really trying to improve to be better all-round."

In 24-hour racing he might be off the bike for only a minute in the entire race for his team to place lights and a change of helmet.

"A lot of the courses are still very technical - even in the daytime you have to be careful," he said. "But 16 hours into a race when all you want to do is sleep and it's dark, you still have to be so sharp because if you hit anything you'll break something. You still have to push the bike, so there's lots of strength involved.

"The mountains we race on have ski resorts on top so they are solid hills."

For now, he is looking forward to completing his first 24-hour road race on the relative flats of Junction Hill.

"I'm really excited for it, and I've had great help from local riders and especially Skye Sear at the New School of Arts, who does an amazing job," he said.