Chad Reed Update: The Final Countdown

Forget the 12 Days of Christmas; Chad Reed has 12 days left to prepare for Anaheim 1! Already the championship favorite entering the 2004 Supercross Series, Reedy was practically handed the number-one plate on a velvet pillow when defending champion Ricky Carmichael suffered a torn ACL ligament in his knee in early December. Skippy’s veritable cakewalk lasted only a few days, however, as later that same week he suffered an almost unbelievable injury himself; dislocating his left shoulder while engaging in a heated game of pool with Team Honda’s Nathan Ramsey. With the championship on the line Reed and his trainer Jeff Spencer acted quickly, having surgeons repair the damaged ligaments only days later. TransWorld Motocross spoke with Reed this morning as he was headed to meet his mechanic and Spencer for his first day back on a bike…

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Hey Chad, what’s happening?

Oh, not much. I’m actually going to ride my motorcycle for the first time today at Lake Elsinore. I’m pretty excited, but also a little nervous. On one hand I can’t wait to ride, but on the other I am hoping that my shoulder is strong enough. I’m headed down to meet my mechanic and my trainer, Jeff Spencer, so that he can tape me up before I ride.

Cool! Okay, so I have to ask… How the hell did you dislocate your shoulder playing pool? Were you making some tricky behind-the-back shot or something?

(Laughs) No, it was just one of those normal shots. I guess it was a long shot; one of those ones where you have to lean down on the table and stretch out. I guess it just placed my arm in a vulnerable position and my shoulder just fell right out of place. It was completely displaced, just like it was when I originally hurt it. Nathan Ramsey had to hold my arm up for me. I struggle to find words to describe how it happened, you know? It’s not every day that you play pool and your shoulder dislocates! (Laughs) I tried to put it back in, but it wasn’t working, so Nathan went to grab his keys to drive me to the hospital. While I was waiting there, I laid my arm on the bed of his truck and it felt a little better, so I pulled on it and it went back in. I was lucky to get it back in quickly, because the longer it stays out, the longer the healing process. Even though I got it back in, I still went to the hospital for precautionary measures. I had some X-rays and stuff done, and I met with the doctors. I was lucky enough to have a good doctor, too! Dr. Raymond hooked me up. He did in three days what most people have to wait two weeks to do. I dislocated my shoulder on Friday night, had MRIs done by Monday and had surgery on Tuesday. We hurried it all through to get back and have the best chance possible of still winning this championship.

So this is the same shoulder that you injured at Southwick in 2002?

Yeah, the left one. I hadn’t had any problems with it since then. Hell, I even rode the second moto after I dislocated it! Now here we are, over 12 months later, and it comes out while I am playing pool of all things. It was a pretty crazy thing, really; totally unexpected. I guess that teaches you to always expect the unexpected. (Laughs) I know that there is no good time to have surgery, but at least this didn’t happen during the season. It looks like my shoulder will be strong, come Anaheim 1.

So when your shoulder popped out, did last year’s incident with Travis Pastrana dislocating his shoulder while swimming come to mind?

(Laughs) Oh yeah, it did! I thought, “Man, I think I got the new record over Travis!” To have any kind of record over Travis is cool, but I’m sure he’s got something new for me. That kid has a ton of tricks up his sleeve. (Laughs)

What else went through your mind at the time?

It was a crazy thing. I mean, even with all the pain I was in while trying to get it back in, the one thing that wagoing wide open through my head was, “That’s it! I am done. There is no chance at winning the title now.” I just had to stay positive, though, and it was tough. That night I barely slept because I thought my chances were gone. Luckily, I was in good hands and it looks like I can still make Anaheim. Arthroscopic surgery is amazing these days. I could have limped through the Supercross series without surgery, but I don’t want this problem ever again, so I decided to get it fixed now and go on with business.

So go back a few days before the injury… What did you think when you got the news about Carmichael’s injury?

It was crazy. I mean, I heard the news when everyone else did. I really did feel bad for him. A lot of people were calling and asking me what I thought. I was really disappointed. I love to race RC. To line up with Ricky, you have to be ready, prepared and 100% percent fit. I will miss that this season. You know, entering the 2004 season the battle between me and Ricky was the big hyped-up thing. You know, who will win the title and everything else. I love to be involved in that kind of stuff. Without RC, though, and especially now; I have new challenges. I am definitely not counting my chickens!

Kevin Windham, I’ve heard, is setting the world on fire. David Vuillemin is really motivated. There are a lot of motivated people out there. A lot of people see weakness in the championship, and it’s breathed newfound motivation into them. I’m really looking forward to the Supercross series. I am coming into the season a little under the radar because of my injury and all, and that’s fine with me.

Under the radar? C’mon man, Chad Reed at 80% is still podium material…

Well, I’d like to think so. You wanna know what the best thing about this whole situation is? It’s only a week and a half away from race one and I still haven’t ridden, but I am totally confident because this was the best off-season of my career. We finished up testing on the new race bike over a month ago and physically, I am the strongest I have ever been. The bike is the best bike I have ever ridden, as well, and I know that I have the best bike out there. As a matter of fact, aside from the shoulder thing, this is the strongest I have ever been in my career. I guess that is what makes this all a lot easier. I know my bike is prepared, and I am not chasing something with the bike. My bike has been totally dialed in for several weeks now and it is just sitting there, completely built and ready to go. I have never come into a season with a machine this prepared and I am excited about that. There’s a lot of new stuff on my bike this year. Yamaha really stepped it up this year.

So how are those crazy looking forks? They look like some big, fat Slim Jims…

(Laughs) Yeah, those things are awesome. They do look like some big Slim Jims up front, don’t they?

Who do you view as your toughest competition, now that RC is out?

I think every individual rider can be dangerous on any given day. Let’s start with DV. David is a seasoned veteran and he knows how to put an entire season together. He can be strong in 2004, for sure. Villy is the last guy that beat me in a Supercross. I am really looking forward to racing Villy. I like him and I have come to respect him. At first, we didn’t see eye to eye but lately we’ve been getting along great. We test together and that lofts the bar that much higher. I see him as a title contender. Obviously, Kevin is really fast. I haven’t raced against him in Supercross at all and I am looking forward to that. Lusk is on a Yamaha now, and that is where he was really wanted to be so he will be motivated. I know that like me, he has the best bike. Ferry, too. There are a lot of riders who have new motivation. Stuff like that is interesting.

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So what is the strategy between now and Anaheim 1? You have 12 days…

Well, goal number one is to try and get back on motorcycle! I need to keep building my shoulder up and keep trying to be stronger and stronger. Before Anaheim, I hope to get a day or two in on the test track so I can ride some Supercross, but for now I will ride at the local motocross tracks.

Hey, speaking of the Yamaha test track, we’ve heard that you have—in fact—been doing some laps out there!

(Laughs) Oh yeah… Just the other day I was riding and training in the hills on my mountain bike and I decided to stop by the track and see what the rest of the guys were up to. Loving whatever I could do to get some training in, I just had to get out there and do a lap around the track on my mountain bike! It wasn’t the same feeling doing lap on my Specialized mountain bike as it is on my YZ250, but it was fun!

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Did you ride through the whoops?

Uh, no. I didn’t go through the whoops. Expect the unexpected, remember? (Laughs)

 im 1? You have 12 days…

Well, goal number one is to try and get back on motorcycle! I need to keep building my shoulder up and keep trying to be stronger and stronger. Before Anaheim, I hope to get a day or two in on the test track so I can ride some Supercross, but for now I will ride at the local motocross tracks.

Hey, speaking of the Yamaha test track, we’ve heard that you have—in fact—been doing some laps out there!

(Laughs) Oh yeah… Just the other day I was riding and training in the hills on my mountain bike and I decided to stop by the track and see what the rest of the guys were up to. Loving whatever I could do to get some training in, I just had to get out there and do a lap around the track on my mountain bike! It wasn’t the same feeling doing lap on my Specialized mountain bike as it is on my YZ250, but it was fun!

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Did you ride through the whoops?

Uh, no. I didn’t go through the whoops. Expect the unexpected, remember? (Laughs)