Features 5 Apr 2012

The Matthes Report: 13

Pulp MX's Steve Matthes checks in from the U.S. every single Thursday, presented by Fox.

With a week off from the AMA Supercross series, otherwise known as the war of the walking wounded, I made my way down to Florida to shoot some videos, photos and basically hang out and bug the crap out of the guys. It’s something I’ve done for a few years now and it’s always a good time to get the guys when they’re away from the races and more relaxed.

Plus it gives me time to realise that these guys are pretty fortunate to do what they do and that it’s always a smart investment to invest in yourself. We have a super busy week planned and check out Pulpmx and Racer X for some of the videos and blogs from the week, but really what I want to do is take you guys through a virtual tour of what riders on the level of Chad Reed have for practice facilities.

Most racers do locate to Florida as there’s more land and it’s cheaper as well to get set up with a compound and plus, the weather is nice year round and for the summer nationals, well, it doesn’t get much hotter than Florida. Did you know that the most northern tip of Florida is still south of the southern tip of California? Well, now you do.

Steve Matthes is out at Chad Reed's Florida base this week as AMA SX takes timeout. Image: Kevin Husted.

The first day was out at Chad Reed’s Dade City place or as I like to call it, moto paradise. What do you want to do while you’re here? Ride supercross? Well there are two top-notch Mark Barnett-built tracks for you to hone your skills. What about outdoor motocross? There’s a 2:30sec per lap sandy motocross track with jumps that include a 125-foot tabletop and some massive leaps that require you to first get a pilot’s license.

What if you have a specialised track such as Daytona coming up? No issues, there’s a separate section that is pretty close to what the guys see each year. If you need some water laid down, there’s a full well system with a state of the art water truck there to make sure you have the right amount of traction. In short, there’s everything you need at Reed’s house to help you attain your goal of being the fastest racer in the world.

What’s been happening over here for the better part of a decade is racers investing in getting set up with the best possible area for them to practice their craft. Tim Ferry, pro in 1992, bought some land and built a purpose built sx and mx track around 1998 and others like Ricky Carmichael followed that lead. No more would the public tracks be used to try and get better. It was solitude of Florida that would be their only enemy. That and the stop watch.

What Reed and others have done is spend some money on themselves in a smart way. Chad’s got three buildings on the property to house all of his things and the proper facilities so that all he needs to work on is getting better. The overhead is pretty high but these investments will pay off better than a new truck, mansion or speedboat.

Countryman Michael Byrne is back in action and was out riding at Reed's today. Image: Kevin Husted.

There’s a practice bike mechanic, work benches, air compressors, all the new parts one would need, bicycles for training, go karts to blow off steam and even a ferris wheel over in the corner… Okay, I might have made that last part up.

Reed’s got the time and space to train and practice by himself and can do what he wants, when he wants. The spoils of success have afforded Reed this opportunity and it’s a pretty big one over most of the racers out there. Although not all of them.

Reed’s Aussie mate Michael Byrne was out on this day riding the outdoor track getting ready for his comeback from a broken neck at Hangtown. Byrne and Reed, old rivals down under, have been best buds for a long time now. No matter where Byrne is riding, he’s got a home at Reed’s place. You can see when they interact the ease that these two guys have with each other. A mumble here and there and each of them know what the other said.

Not this year but the past two years I’ve been there has seen the third Aussie Musketeer Brett Metcalfe staying at the property in his motorhome busting out the laps. Jason Thomas one of the longest serving privateer riders is here all the time, Reed never asking anything of JT other than try his best every day to get better. And then, when he doesn’t, the good-natured ribbing begins.

Reed has invested heavily in his career to be the world's best. Image: Kevin Husted.

Reed’s place is not easy to get into but once you’re in, you’re treated like family as long as you’re respectful and understand that some track work and track watering is to be done for the group. Heck, even Kyle Chisholm who some might remember as Reed rival James Stewart’s teammate a few years back and who was fined $5000 for getting in Reed’s way at Salt Lake City is part of the gang.

Chisholm has made his piece with Reed and they have buried the hatchet. Which is pretty top-shelf of Chad because if you ask me, I wouldn’t have batted an eye if he had kept Chiz from riding at the property.

Reed’s secure and comfortable in his place as one of the sports most popular riders, his candidness and honesty with the fans and the media has helped him attract new sponsors for his team and even though he was limping around on this day, he was still busy doing deals.

The riders that have these compounds have a lot of advantages but make no mistake about it, it’s been earned with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. You’ve got to be here to understand it, the properties are as awesome as any thrill-ride out there at your local carnival. Only these tickets are never sold – they’re earned.