Ride to focus on youth
Mark Leaker, James Lush, John Gardner, Dave James and tram captain Belinda Lonsdale. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Cyclists on a 700km journey from Albany to Perth next month have a sure-fire way of pushing through the pain.

"When I am going up the hills during training, I think about why I am doing it and pretty quickly the pain fades," Team Budget member John Gardner said.

He is one of 110 riders who will take on this year's Hawaiian Ride for Youth - a charity ride for youth suicide prevention. According to the ride's beneficiary Youth Focus, suicide is the number one cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds in WA.

"Mental illness and depression need to be communicated better," Mr Gardner said. "There are catch-phrases for skin cancer and drink-driving, but not for youth suicide."

Riders are split into coastal and inland groups and visit 15 schools in 4½ days. Team Budget captain Belinda Lonsdale has done the ride five times, but a fall during training will prevent her riding this year.

Like many, Ms Lonsdale first saw the event as a physical challenge.

"When you sign up you're not aware of how powerful it can be," she said. "A lot of people have gone through depression or know someone with depression.

"We raise awareness of bullying and depression among young people and educate them about where they can get help if they need it."

Hawaiian Ride for Youth has raised more than $8.3 million and has engaged with about 17,000 students since 2003.

The ride begins on April 1 and finishes in Kings Park on April 5.

There will be a Youth Focus charity auction at this Saturday's Ascot races. For more information, visit youthfocus.com.au.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The West Australian

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