Wise Words is our new interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.

We’ll ask our short list of questions to a heap of influential, inspiring and outspoken people that we feel are driving the direction of mountain biking today. Some will make you think, some will make you laugh, some will be plain dumb, some will inspire you to better yourself and your riding. We hope!

Wise Words this week comes to you from Andrew Neethling.

A rider that seems to have been around forever, Andrew Neethling has ridden for the likes of Mongoose, Trek and Giant Factory Racing teams over the years, chalking up plenty of World Cup top 10s in a season and even the odd podium. Definitely helped put South Africa on the downhill map along with a certain GOAT.

Photo by Keno Derleyn.

How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?

You going to have to ask them… My goal is to be fun to be around and bring a positive vibe to riding or whatever we doing. That’s my goal but I can’t say if I achieve it or not.

What thing or things have you bought in the last year that had the biggest effect on your life as a mountain biker / cyclist / person that works in the bike industry?

Well, I am still so spoilt and lucky to be sponsored. My new Gambler has got me excited to ride DH bikes again. When you do something for so long and always with pressure to perform it sure is nice to find the love for riding again.

What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?

I have always been super sensitive to my bar roll. Even after retiring from racing I still obsess over getting the bar roll right.

I also have to drop a new helmet and scratch it before I ride it. Specially a DH and DJ helmet. You joke but the time I didn’t, I crashed and wrecked my custom painted helmet.

Photo by Keno Derleyn.

What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?

Build your confidence and build up to things. MTB is an amazing sport but too many people get hurt and sometimes get put off the sport in the beginning before learning enough skill. Take a lesson and watch that ego. Funny how a lot of people take lessons in other sports where there is not much danger but want to self learn mountain biking. Just a thought.

If you could go back and re-ride one day from your life so far, where/what/when/who would it be? Would you change anything?

Only one ? Come on I wouldn’t still be riding if there weren’t tons that were great. First that comes to mind is just busting laps in Whistler with the crew. Mid race season and no pressure. The likes of Brendan Fairclough, Rdog and all the boys. Cap it off with Beers at the bottom. No need to change anything

Something I would change though is in my racing days.I would make the most of those days that were tough or weren’t going too well.

What have you wasted the most time on in your life as a rider or bike industry career that you wished you’d given up years ago?

Taking life and racing too seriously as I stated above. I guess it helped me achieve what I did which I am proud of but there is a time and place. Its just bikes after all and I think taking the pressure off myself would have helped a lot.

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I wasted too much time worrying about what others were doing and not focusing on myself and what I could improve or control.

Photo by Eric Palmer.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?

Routine. I have always had coaches in my career. I had a set training program which I followed. That built my confidence. Motivation and inspiration is never consistent. We not designed that way.

Create good habits and consistent riding or doing anything consistently will make you a better rider or person. I had goals I wanted to achieve so that got me out when I didn’t want to. You always felt better after you went out.

What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?

I do think pushing yourself and achieving things did drive me but the friendships and joy of sharing riding sessions with people bring me the most joy, now at least…. That is what I gain the most from.

Photo by Keno Derleyn

What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?

The Brook MacDonald incident. He is an inspiration but I wish that on no one to be on the hill that long. Accidents do happen but a lot of things can be prevented or become better.

What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?

A riders union and have the industry really listen and let the riders have a voice.

Also get proper support for the local bike shop. I don’t think people and the industry realise what a critical part of the industry it is.

Selfishly would love to get the racing back on the cards but the world has other plans right now with COVID-19 . I am just a fan of our sport and want to see the athletes get to showcase themselves.

OK, maybe it’s a few things I hope will happen.

Who else should we ask these questions to?

Dean Lucas.

Keep tabs on Needle’s adventures on his Instagram feed here.

You can catch all our previous Wise Words interviews with the likes of Sven Martin, Manon Carpenter, Ric McLaughlin and plenty more here.