- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

Chad Reed sat at home for a month, trying to shake his funk.

He had a superb start to the Supercross season, putting himself in position for another championship while proving to himself that he still had it as he climbed into his 30s.

It came to abrupt end in San Diego, where a crash knocked Reed out for the season and back on his heels.

“It just really bummed me out,” Reed said. “A lot of things were gelling and I thought good things were coming, so to get injured and fall short of the goal to contend for a championship, really kind of sucked a lot of energy out of me.”

Once Reed got over it, he turned the setback into a positive.

Despite the wreck, the 32-year-old knew he could still keep up with the sport’s young guns, that he just needed to heal up and get ready for the outdoor season.

Now it’s here and he, along with several other riders coming off injuries, is geared up for what should be a wide-open season that starts Saturday at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California.

“This could be the most competitive season we’ve seen in a long time,” said Davey Coombs, vice president of the Lucas Oil Motocross Championships. “There are any number of riders who could win the championship.”

One who won’t be there is defending champion Ryan Villopoto.

He’s been the dominant rider indoors and out, winning four Supercross titles and two outdoor championships. Villopoto became the first rider to win four straight Supercross titles earlier this year, but was hobbled late in the season and decided to have surgery on his left knee, knocking him out of the outdoor season.

Villopoto’s misfortune has opened the door for other riders to claim the title.

The favorites will likely be the past champions in the field. Ryan Dungey has two outdoor titles, Reed won in 2009 and James Stewart was the 2008 champion. They know what it takes to get through the hot grind of racing outdoors in the summer, so don’t be surprised if one of those three takes home another title.

But it’s not just going to be handed to them because they’re the vets. The series is filled with up-and-comers who have shown they have the speed, at least on short runs, to keep up with the experienced riders, including Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, Eli Tomac and Trey Canard.

Like Reed, Canard is trying to come back from an injury, as are Tomac and Davi Millsaps, so there should be some added intrigue as riders try to bounce back and compete for a championship.

“It’s a part of the sport, unfortunately,” Coombs said. “There are quite a few riders who are trying to come back from injuries this year.”

Reed is one of them - again.

He had been one of motocross’ most consistent riders, setting a Supercross record with 116 straight races. Over the past few years, he’s had a string of injuries, including a torn left ACL during the 2012 Supercross season that ended his outdoor season before it started.

Reed’s latest injury came during the sixth race of the Supercross season in San Diego.

Running fourth, he charged up the last lap in an attempt to overtake Roczen for a spot on the podium. While racing across a whoops section - smaller jumps bunched closely together - Roczen closed off Reed’s passing line and the Aussie misjudged one of the bumps and wrecked.

Reed suffered numerous broken bones in his shoulder and had surgery, ending his season while sitting second in the standings.

“This year hurt more than anything because I was having so much fun, we were really competitive and truthfully I felt we were a title competitor,” said Reed, who has won two Supercross championships. “We had everything and more to contend for a championship and to know that chance to win a title, you don’t get too many of those and they’re running out for me, so it’s important to get healthy and get out there and compete for this outdoor championship.”

Though he’s not 100 percent yet, Reed is healthy enough to start the outdoor season this weekend.

Based on what happened during the Supercross season before his wreck, Reed is expecting to contend for another title.

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