Andy Reid’s memory strains when asked about how many injuries he has sustained during his motorcycling career.
“I really don’t know. Too many to remember. Well, too many to count on my two hands,” he smiles, after a pause.
Visits to the surgery table are commonplace for a rider. It is the price they pay in a currency of high speed and unforgiving crashes.
Andy’s latest thud on the tarmac came last weekend at Oulton Park during a practice session of the British Supersport championship.
Up until his crash the Carrickfergus star – a former pupil at Belfast Royal Academy – had been in contention for the title having won four rounds of the series.
In what the 22-year-old describes as a “strange crash”, he was catapulted into the air after his bike’s back wheel gave way to a wet patch on the track.
“There was a bit of light drizzle, so we decided to wait and see if it would dry out before going out on the track to try something different on the bike,” he recalls.
“We thought the circuit had dried but I then hit a wet patch and the back end of the bike slid out, and so did I.”
The result was a season-ending injury for the Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki star, including a fractured hand, chipped bone and fractured baby finger.
“It is part of racing. It is not a matter of ‘if’ you crash, but ‘when’,” he concedes.
“I am realistic to understand the dangers of motorcycle racing. It was a shame this happened to me. There are three rounds of the championship left and I was looking forward to a strong finish.
“But I can’t see me returning this season. I just have to recover and then come back stronger for next year. It is frustrating, but that’s life. You accept these things happen and you move on.”
A multiple Ulster and Irish motocross champion, Andy made the switch to short circuit racing when he was 14.
It was a seamless transition for the gifted rider who felt as comfortable on tarmac as he did on the dirt.
“Some riders find it difficult to move, but I found it quite easy,” he says.
“For some riders, it takes years for the penny to drop on the circuits. I think a lot of it comes down to talent, and for others it takes hard work and perseverance.”
Andy enhanced his burgeoning reputation with two impressive years in the British Superkings series, but another serious injury when he was 17 threatened to end his career.
A broken femur ruled him out of action for three years, throwing Andy’s future into a mire of uncertainty and dejection.
“It was a difficult time. It was a shock to everyone,” he adds.
“My life was riding bikes, and suddenly I wasn’t able to do that.
“But I know how this business works. I had to deal with it. At the end of the day, no matter how bad you have got it, there is always someone worse off than yourself.”
That honest philosophy has carried Andy through some troubled times in his life, not least when his father Adrian passed away when he was just 18.
The two had been an inseparable team throughout the young rider’s early career, from jumping on his first motorcycle when Andy was seven to competing for major honours during his teens.
“My dad was always with me during my career, from the early days on the dirt track to my time on the circuits,” Andy said.
“There is not a lot you can say about it. Life goes on and you have to be strong and move on.
“Dad was with me most of the time. We spent most of our time together through the bikes. I suppose his death has acted as added motivation for me.”
As for the future, Andy is preparing to recuperate from this week’s surgery before turning his focus to next season.
“As frustrating as it will be, I just have to rest up and make sure I fully recover from this injury,” he says.
“Then we will look towards winter testing and get a set-up ready to compete next season.”