Chad Reed made some hard-to-make but realistic goals for the Glen Helen National and he achieved those goals in his debut race since an injury knocked him out of Supercross. Photography by Kit Palmer

Although it’s only been about three and a half months since we’ve seen Chad Reed on the track, it seems a lot longer, especially if you’re Reed. At the Red Bull Glen Helen National, Reed returned to action for the first time since suffering a serious shoulder/neck injury early in the Supercross series. It was only a few short weeks ago that he got the green light to start training and riding again, leaving him far behind the others in the 450 class, as far as preparation, heading into the Glen Helen race. But Reed made the best of it by riding within his means, even if he wanted, deep down inside, to go way beyond those means.

At Glen Helen, Reed went 9-10 for 10th overall on his Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports Kawasaki, and he admitted after the race that he was pleased with his performance.

“It feels awesome to be back on the track,” the racer/team owner said. “To be one of the first guys out there [on the parade lap] and to get the cheers from the crowd, just all of the things that you miss. But it was a tough day, long day, just because my goal was to be in the top 10 and not override, not do any mistakes, not to crash. I felt like, in one way, I left a lot out there today, but I’m happy, that was the goal. A couple of times I was around some guys, the carrot was there, but I was just trying to be consistent and trying not to get too carried away.”

Reed had to find the fine line between playing it safe and staying in the championship at the Glen Helen opener.

Reed admitted that there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We’re a little bit weak, because we’re just three weeks on the bike and three weeks of just getting the green light of being able to do some weights and lifting and things like that, so the reality is that I’m not where I need to be.

“But I’m stoked, I think I was eighth (officially 10th) overall, so it’s one thing to say I want to be top 10, being happy with it is another thing. I can’t say that I’m overly happy being on the back side of the top 10, but I’m stoked being here and stoked to feel good on the bike — my shoulder didn’t hurt at all. A lot of boxes got ticked today, now the challenge is going to be progressing enough to be competitive a week from now and then two weeks from now in Denver. We’ll see what we can do.

“But you have to be realistic, and I felt that I’ve always tried to do that. Like I said, I set a goal to be in the top 10 but as a competitor you — the wheels are turning inside the head and you start thinking, ‘if I did this, if I did that.’ Well, I have to be okay with that. It’s a four and a half/five-month injury and we’re back in at three and a half. Reality set in today and I acted like I was 32 out there today and tried to be smart.”

Glen Helen is notoriously rough and physically demanding, probably not the best track to start your comeback, but Reed made the best of it.

“I just had fun. I enjoy Glen Helen. For whatever reason, it’s a difficult race to find comfort. We tested two days in Florida and you can’t get any more polar opposite, there is a lot of sand back there and zero hills. But to be here and be comfortable and be within the goal, and be healthy, I’m happy. I really am.”

Reed hopes to build on his 10th-place finish this weekend at Hangtown.

Luckily for Reed, the series heads to Hangtown near Sacramento. It’s a track that he’s had a lot of success, and he’s hoping for more of that there now more than ever.

“I won there in 2010 and 2011, it’s been good to me over the years, hopefully we can get into the top five [at Hangtown]. Kenny [Roczen] and [Ryan] Dungey, you don’t want to give them too much to work with, but I feel I have a shot at the title toward the end of the series. Right now, it’s a matter of limiting the damage at the beginning of the season and we’ll see what happens.”

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Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes ever since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.