Rivals eat Pilley's dust in marathon race
HE HAS been described as the 'best Australian mountain biker you don't know'.
The Clarence Valley should be quite familiar with Morgan Pilley, a national level squash player in his younger years before becoming one of Australia's premier mountain bike riders.
Pilley spends most of the year living, training and competing in Italy, taking on the best riders in the world in Europe.
His original plan for this season was to move back to the marathon distance, but that didn't stop him taking on the Rome 24-hour race.
"This year we (my team and I) hadn't planned on me racing any 24-hour races but about a month ago my manager told me I would be racing it," Pilley said.
"It's a big event with good exposure for sponsors, so to have a good result is beneficial for the team.
"The course was about 8km long. Fairly flat and not technical but super dusty.
"It's dust central at this race every year.
"Super fine dust that fills the air - absolutely horrible stuff but there's not much you can do about it.
"Your lungs get drilled by it. I had some bad coughing fits for a few nights afterwards."
The move ended up paying ultimate dividends for Pilley, who eventually won by two laps.
It is the second time Pilley has won the event, which he said was a direct result of extra mental training.
"It was a close race between me and a German racer," Pilley said.
"We were neck and neck only minutes apart until the final few hours and I pulled away from him.
"Two laps (about 16km) is an okay gap in the end.
"I'm always pretty confident in those situations, as I know I've done the mental training in order to push again after 20 or so hours of riding."
Pilley described his 2013 as being an "up and down" year, with his first national selection proving to be a career highlight.
He represented Australia at the World Championships at Austria in July but continued a run of bad luck that has plagued other results.
"I ended up breaking my bike during the race so it was a bit disappointing," Pilley said.
"I'm not too sure what happened. I had a small crash in the race and the downhill sections were pretty heavy.
"I finished the race just to make sure I finished and didn't quit."