There is plenty of exaggeration everywhere you look these days. In recent years, it’s become commonplace to react first and think second… or third. Despicably, the news cycle is the most reliable example of this change in social grace. Facts be damned, accuracy is malleable.
Be first and make it a spectacular reaction.
This is not one of those instances.
Chad Reed was 20 years old when he arrived in the USA and he has had many detractors over the years. Some of whom used to work with him in earlier years, others who were simply fans of his greatest foes. As an ambitious, always ballsy and forthright Aussie, he could easily rub you wrong. It’s ironic, with American’s being sidled with the moniker “ugly-American”, we as a general consensus, weren’t really fans of the brash Australian. He was more ugly-American than us. Don’t twist my words, he certainly had his Stars and Stripes-Superfans but by and large, American’s pulled for the American’s. Jeremy McGrath. Ricky Carmichael. James Stewart. Kevin Windham. The fact that Chad came off as his own biggest fan and not concerned with the support of his adoptive countrymen, only fed the forcefield that surrounded his spry younger aura.
As happens in life; pitfalls, challenges, failures and misgivings tend to lessen the swell on one’s ego. This may sound like a criticism but there’s a single word which encapsulates the effect they have and that is: Maturity. It afflicts us all. It humbles and quiets us, hurts us even. But it makes all of us more tolerable in the end.
I’d say the way Chad has evolved is really damn impressive considering he’s been on the World stage since before he arrived Stateside. This guy’s drive in his teenage years lead him around the globe chasing the best of the best to prove himself by not only squaring off against them but beating them during their peak years. It would be impossible not to have an incredible ego with that kind of self-belief and drive. The fact that his career has played out with him consistently at the forefront for more than 15 years is an anomaly in this sport of short careers and even shorter stretches of competitiveness at the elite level.
The number of Premiere-class careers that have bloomed and withered during his run is really unbelievable. Grant Langston, Ivan Tedesco, Nick Wey, James Stewart, Davi Millsaps, Mike Alessi, Andrew Short, Ryan Villopoto, Josh Grant, Jake Weimer, Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, Cole Seely, Wil Hahn… the list goes on.
In recent years, the detractors have lamented “he’s not competitive”, “he’s washed up”, “throw in the towel”, “it’s over”, “when is he gonna just stop”… well first of all, don’t we all get into this for the love of the sport? Imagine, competing at the top level the sport has to offer for nearly 20 years and still being capable of rubbing elbows with the best that current era has to offer!! It’s not like Chad has been getting a Senior Citizen’s Provisional gate spot, he’s earning it every week WITH NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE!
It’s the same inner fire that brought him from Australia as a teen.
The same inner fire that made him the only rider in history to be utterly waxed by RC or JS7 one week and brush it off before he even reached the podium, and claim he’d get them next weekend… and sometimes did.
The same race sense that made almost every racer who’s ever had to negotiate a pass around him claim, “it’s like he knows where I was gonna make the move before I even did.”
It’s the same guy who couldn’t find a ride, so he built his own team from scratch AND WON ON IT IN YEAR ONE!
The same guy who initially had even the King of Supercross mad at him and Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart hating him with a true passion but ultimately respecting the hell out of him.
The guy who early on in his immature years made it hard to pull for him, now continues to be the fan favorite with the most supporters in the pits. The American pits.
So here we are. He’s made the announcement and 2020 will be the final year THE ONLY TWOTWO will grace a Supercross field. It’s a cataclysmic event for the record books of the sport and not just a changing of an era, because it spans a minimum of 3 era’s, but a complete recreation of the landscape of Supercross.
Thank you Chad Reed.
For your ambition.
Ownership of failures.
And more than anything else, your unassailable passion.
See you at A1 Champ.