Aussie aiming to ride high

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

They say to win in Supercross you have to have talent and heart.

Well, it's obvious Australia's Chad Reed has both.

Reed, the AMA world Supercross series leader heading into tomorrow's event at the Rogers Centre, already has won two AMA titles, in 2004 and 2008, and is attempting to defend his title this season over 2007 champion James Stewart of the U.S. Only 11 points separate the two riders with five events left, including the one this weekend.

As for heart, well, Reed has never missed a main event since joining the circuit in 2002 and that doesn't mean he always has been healthy.

Many times he has competed in great pain, including last season at Detroit's Ford Field, when he suffered a broken scapula and bruised lungs in a practice run. After spending six hours in hospital, Reed checked himself out so he could race in the event and salvage some points, which he did, finishing 12th, which ultimately helped him win the overall title.

But right after the crash, the native of Kurri, Australia, was afraid for his life.

"I was coughing up a lot of blood, so it kind of freaked me out a bit," the personable rider said yesterday. "But (later) I taped up my shoulder the best I could and went racing. It was really, really tough. I only managed 12th because it felt like I was going to throw up all night (during the race). I was tasting blood the whole time."

A week after that, he finished second at a race in St. Louis.

But racing in pain is nothing new to the 27-year-old Aussie. In 2006, he crashed during a practice session in Daytona, separating his shoulder, but raced the next day. A year later, Reed's bike broke down "mid-flight", and he was knocked unconscious, but raced later that week.

Still, Reed doesn't allow the dangers involved in Supercross affect his preparation or his love for the sport. He hopes to defend his title this season and for many years to come, although Stewart, the only rider to win every major championship on the circuit, may have something to say about that.

"It can be tough at times and brutal at times, and at other times it can seem so easy and fun. But it's crazy. In any form of motor racing, anything can happen at any time," Reed said. "That's why you have to take it when you can, respect the bike and have fun.

"We're professional athletes and we work extremely hard at what we do and we respect each other on the track and nine times out of 10, it goes smoothly and everybody's safe," he added. "Once in a while you lose your mind a little bit and you get caught up in the moment and you kind of throw yourself on the ground."

As for the Toronto stop, Reed is the defending champion and obviously is gunning to win here again. Reed, who started racing on motorbikes when he was 4 years old, said he loves racing in Toronto, calling a technically challenging track, but is not a fan of the condition of the dirt.

"We get some really oddball dirt in Toronto, a lot of rock in the dirt," he said. "We're inside of a stadium and there's no rain, but sometimes it seems like somebody opened up the roof and it's all muddy, because it's just thawing out.

"Last year was the worse, it was really, really bad," Reed added. "I won the race and I didn't necessarily enjoy it. But I enjoy a track that challenges the mind, and Toronto does that. It throws a lot of things at you that other tracks don't."


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