Kaeden Amerine was building momentum throughout the 2019 season alongside the EBR Performance Yamaha team, collecting a handful of podiums and top-five finishes in the 125cc and Schoolboy 1 classes. The Kansas native even showed up at the third round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series at Thunder Valley and took the win in the 125 All-Star race, building momentum and confidence for later in the season. Unfortunately, things went wrong at a Loretta Lynn Qualifier when Amerine damaged his knee in an incident and was forced to spend the remainder of the year recovering before he could get back on the bike. After the most time he’s spent out of the saddle in his career, the Yamaha rider got back on the bike and put in some hard work at Reynard Training Complex to get back to a highly competitive level. He quickly proved that he hasn’t lost anything from the time off as he emerged with a number one plate in the 250 B class at the Daytona RCSX as well as an overall podium in 450 B, proving that he’s going to be a contender in the B class for the remainder of the 2020 season. We had a conversation with Kaeden to see how he’s been occupying his time during the quarantine, what it was like mentally to spend that much time off the bike, and when he’s thinking of moving up to the A class.
What have you been up to the last couple of months during the lockdown?
Well, we've still been able to ride at Robbie's so I've been riding there during the week and then staying at home during the weekends -- staying away from everyone, tryin' to social distance as much as I can.
Do you stay at Reynard's during the week or how does that work?
Me and my mechanic have an apartment in Edmond, so we stay there and it's only like twenty-five or thirty minutes away, so it's not too bad.
There's obviously been a lot more free time on the weekends with no racing or anything. What have you been doing in your downtime?
Yeah, I've been spending some time with the family and we like to go out and ride RZR's and stuff out at the river or in the sand dunes. I ride my bike in the sand dunes too, and that's pretty fun. We've been to the lake a couple of times now to just relax, so it kind of gets your mind away from motocross for a little bit during this time when there's not much going on for racing, but we're hard at work during the week.
After your injury last year, you were probably ready to get back into the normal racing routine and then we had racing canceled and postponed. Did you take some time off when that happened or stay on your normal program?
I pretty much just kept doing my normal routine and didn't really take any time off. I've been hard at it since Freestone trying to work and get better.
You've been at Reynard's place for a while now. How is it for you to work with him?
It's good to have someone that you can trust and know that they know what they're talking about 'cause he's been through it and ridden a dirt bike fast. So it's definitely nice having the trust in him and he just helps a lot. He sees everything and knows exactly what we're feeling out there.
What's it like for you to be on a bike and training with professionals like Benny Bloss and Austin Forkner?
Yeah, it's great having them there and having someone to base my speed off so I can work up to them and get closer to them. It's nice to have them out front so you know what to push for and where you can gain time by watching them.
One of the highlights during your 2019 racing season was winning the 125 All-Star race at Thunder Valley. What was that experience like?
Yeah, that race was definitely one to remember. It was cool to get the win on that one and it was a super fun experience getting to ride the pro track, 'cause the amateur tracks get rough but nothing compares to what they're riding on. So it was really cool to get to ride the pro day and have all of the fans there watching. I almost crashed on the very first lap comin' down the hill where all the spectators were and I saved it and all I could hear was the crowd yelling 'cause I saved it. It was cool to hear all the fans and stuff, but that was probably my biggest highlight from 2019.
Was it tough for you to spend the second half of the season off the bike with your leg injury? Have you ever had a layoff that long before?
Yeah, I tore my ACL and LCL and then I had some cracks in the head of my tib and fib. That was my first big injury, like before I fractured my wrist on 65s and that was it. I've never really taken any time off the bike since that few weeks on 65s, so it was definitely really hard when this happened to my knee. I couldn't have done it without everyone beside me, like the team and all my family. It was definitely mentally difficult being my first big injury 'cause I've never experienced anything like that or that much time off the bike, so I was just in shock almost that it was happening. It definitely took a toll on me mentally, but I was able to stay mentally strong through it all and I'm feeling good now.
What was the feeling like for you the first time getting back on the bike after that?
It was just a relief pretty much that it was finally here. It was like six/seven months before I was riding, so it was definitely a long time and injuries are no joke. It's definitely hard being away from a dirt bike when that's all you know for that long. It was just super exciting to get back on the bike and get back doin' what I love.
At that point you just jumped straight onto the 250, right?
Yeah, 'cause Loretta's was supposed to be my last race on the 125 so we were already kind of gettin' off of them. We got my 250 in like February 2019 so I could ride it around here and there, so I wasn't completely brand new on the 250 when I first got back.
What was it like for you to come back at Daytona and get that title there? That had to be pretty cool.
Yeah, it was so awesome to be able to get the win at Daytona! You definitely come in a little unsure of where you're going to be after that long off the bike, but I was comin' in and I had confidence. I knew I belonged up front so I was super pumped to get the win, get 2nd in 450 B, and have those solid finishes at Daytona.
You continued at Spring A Ding Ding with some strong results in the top five. How'd things go for you there?
Yeah, I think Underground had its ups and downs. I'm pretty happy with how it went overall and what I came out with, but I wish I could've done better. We're still healthy and still riding so I can't complain about that. We knew what we had to work on when we left there so that's what we've been working on, but overall it was a pretty decent weekend.
What do you think about the track layout down there at Underground?
Yeah, it's a gnarly track with all the ruts and big jumps and it gets super rough, too! It definitely challenges you and you've definitely gotta be on your A-game.
Have you talked with the team at all about what your plans are following Loretta's this year going into next season?
I think the plan after Loretta's is probably to go into the A class, ride A next year and then hopefully go pro after that.