Neil Donoghue
Neil Donoghue

Neil ‘The Don’ Donoghue is one of the most stylish and fluid riders I have ever met. He has ridden in the past for the likes of Royal Racing and MBUK to World Cup level…and possibly never quite reaching his full DH potential (but that would be harsh). After a dodgy team deal back in 2009 (that left him high and dry) he pretty much retired from the WC race scene, working the odd stint in a vintage clothes shop, hiring out Bongo vans and starting up a skills coaching business. The Don now concentrates solely on his company www.neildonoghuecoaching.co.uk, and racing gravity enduro…maybe as a professional once again in 2013. He’s a ruler, and here he is…

DIRT ISSUE 131 - JANUARY 2013

Words by Mike Rose. Photo by Laurence Crossman–Emms

Who is Neil Donoghue?

A 31 year old bike rider/hoarder. I like to own more bikes than I have space for.

Where do you live?

Shrewsbury.

What’s your job title?

Professional Mountain Bike Rider and Skills Coach.

What do you do?

I coach people how to ride their bikes better and I race Gravity Enduro.

How long have you been doing this job?

Four years as a coach and 12 years as a pro mountain biker.

How did this job come about?

My downhill career came to an end in 2008/9 and I wanted to make use of the experience I had, and although I like to think I am not daft, I was virtually unemployable. My CV shows good GCSEs, A Levels then a big gap where I discovered racing bikes and thought about little else. Coaching was a perfect way to stay riding and make a living doing something I enjoy.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Order picker in a stationary warehouse.

Where’s your favourite place?

New York.

Where’s your favourite place to ride?

Eastridge, Shropshire.

When are you happiest?

Riding with a good bunch of mates.

What makes you angry?

People who throw rubbish out of car windows.

What makes you happy?

A freshly groomed, loamy motocross track and my YZ250.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Look for a job where your skills earn the money and not your time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

Your speed looks about right – to Gee Atherton on a practise run up for his infamous snow jump.

What are your extravagances?

Motorbikes, beer and trainers.

Who do you admire?

Driven people who aren’t scared to try something new.

What’s the most important thing in your life?

Friends and family.

What would you never throw away?

My junior national champs jersey.

What’s your greatest fear?

Running out of teas bags.

What was your luckiest escape?

In ‘09 I washed out above a cliff face at the Pietermaritzburg World Cup and fell 15 feet to the top of my head. I got away with a dislocated finger, whiplash and sore ribs. I felt very lucky to not break my neck.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Dogs out, cup of tea.

What’s the last thing you do at night?

Dogs out, check Instagram.

What would be your dream meal?

Beef Burrito and a cold one.

What things do you always carry with you?

iPhone, wallet and a positive mental attitude.

Do you have any regrets?

I always wanted to podium a World Cup before I finished and I felt like I could have done a few more competitive seasons.

What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?

Don’t take your health for granted and if you want to do something then nothing can stop you.

If you could have dinner with three famous people (dead or alive) who would they be?

Lemmy, Keith Richards and Michael Palin.

Who is your favourite rider?

Brian Foster.

What’s your favourite bike product of all time?

The disc brake.

What’s your least favourite bike product of all time?

Rear mudguards.

What’s your favourite motto or saying?

Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.

What saying do you use too much?

Dude.

What bike are you riding at the moment?

Santa Cruz Nomad C.

What was the last magazine you read?

New Scientist.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Motorhead, Rancid, the XX and Bjork.

What one thing would you change about yourself?

My reliance on coffee at 11am.

What are your weaknesses?

My instant scepticism of new bike technology.

What does the future hold for you?

More bikes, motorbikes and racing. I can’t ever imagine not racing something. As much as I love just riding XC, trails or whatever I need that mental focus racing brings.

What does the future hold for mountain biking?

More accessible/open to the public riding spots for downhill. Fast young kids beating the old men. More acronyms. New standards.

How would you like to be remembered?

A nice bloke who could still do one foot tables well into his 60’s.

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