Frid’Eh Update #17 | Cheyenne Harmon Interview | Presented by Yamaha Motor Canada

By Billy Rainford

Presented by Yamaha Motor Canada
Week #17 belongs to Texas racer Cheyenne Harmon. | Bigwave photo

Welcome to Week #17 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update this week presented by Yamaha Motor Canada. Texas racer Cheyenne Harmon is the rider who earned career #17.

One of my favourite parts of the job is meeting riders and families involved in our sport. But nothing beats finding out a rider has risked everything and made the trip to Canada on his or her own to roll the dice and race our series. We’ve seen it a few times over the years, and it’s just as cool every time.

Cheyenne did just that a few years back when he came up here in his van by himself and hit the Triple Crown Series. He had some bad luck and actually tucked his tail and was headed back home when he decided he didn’t want to give up and went out and bought himself another brand new bike and got back on the line. You have to appreciate and respect that kind of determination and tenacity.

He sort of did the same thing on his own again this past winter for the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season. We got in touch with him this week to talk about how things have been going. Check it out:

Cheyenne started the 2021 season racing 250 West. | Brown Dog Wilson photo

Direct Motocross: Hey, Cheyenne. I know you’re busy heading into the final weekend of Supercross, so thanks for taking some time with us for Week #17. Some people up here may not know your story so let’s back it up to the beginning. How did you get your start in motocross?

Cheyenne Harmon: Hey, no problem, I always enjoy chatting with you! I got my first dirt bike when I was 4. I raced BMX where I won the Grand National Championship in the 5-year-old Expert class. I also raced Quarter Midget race cars at a young age, too, and had a little success in that. I always rode my motorcycle. We got to a point where I had to choose which one, so here we are. Lol.

What was your first race number and why did you pick it?

333. I don’t really know the reasoning behind it, but I ran 33 or 333 till I got my Pro license when I was 16.

Cheyenne got his start on 4 wheels, and he successful there, too. | Photo supplied

We know you came up to Canada by yourself in your van a couple years ago, and that’s when I met you, so let’s go back before that. Can you sum up your amateur racing career for us?

I didn’t really race much Motocross growing up. I mainly raced Cross Country (Off-Road). I moved to the Pro class in that when I was 13 and started winning races and won the Texas Off Road National Championship that year. I was 14 at the final race.

You raced the 250 West class this year…at first. Can you first tell us about your / Parker McCollum deal?

Two weeks before round 1 me and the team I was with mutually agreed to part ways. It was not ideal by any means whatsoever. The next day I went and bought a Gas Gas and started putting together my racing program. I’m a very proud Texan and love country music. Parker (McCollum) is one my favorite artists, and he just so happens to be a fan of Supercross. I reached out to him with an idea, he liked it and we started our partnership.

We first met Cheyenne when he came north from Texas alone in his van to race our MX National series in 2018. | Bigwave photo

How did it go for you? Can you take us through the highs and lows?

As one of Parker’s hit songs goes, “it’s been a hell of a year.” The last 6-8 months have been tough for me, starting with battling some personal things in my life, to having a deal to go racing and things going well, to going back to doing my own program.

At Orlando 1, I had a motor lock up off the face of the triple in practice (fortunate to walk away from that) and another team (AJE Gas Gas) loaned us a motor. During the heat race we were running in a transfer spot and then had a big crash.

Fast forward a few weeks, the Gas Gas was not working out for me and the Saturday night before Daytona I went and picked up a YZ 250F from Maxim Yamaha. Press Day was the second time I had ridden it, and first time with my parts on it.

I raced it for the last 6 west coast rounds with a stock motor, pipe, clutch and suspension. I didn’t achieve the results I wanted, but we made it in the main through the heat race and finished 18th in the main at my hometown race at Arlington 3. 

It’s been tough racing on really no budget and one bike. I never gave up and went out and did my best. I actually feel my riding has been pretty good, we just haven’t put it all together.

Cheyenne is a big country music fan and got support from Parker McCollum for 2021 Supercross. | Photo supplied

Then you got a new deal to race the 450 class for the last 2 rounds. Can you tell us how that came up?

Yeah, I’m filling in on the BWR Engines Honda team. I’ve known Brian White for a while and have worked with him before. When we were in Atlanta I stopped at the rig and was visiting with him and he asked if I was gonna ride 450 at Salt Lake. I then told him no but I wanted to, and my good buddy Logan Karnow was trying to talk me into it.

Fast forward to that night, he called me then we were at a track in Georgia following Tuesday’s race on Wednesday and Thursday testing. His equipment is top notch and I’m excited for the opportunity on the big bike.

At SLC1 you qualified 29th, were 14th in Heat 2, and then you were 10th in the LCQ. How did that go for you?

The day started slow for me, getting back on a 450 and adjusting to the power and handling difference, also the elevation threw things off a bit. We made some changes and I got better each time on the bike throughout the day. I am dissatisfied in the results on paper, but I am looking forward to this weekend.

Can you tell us the biggest difference you notice between the 250 and 450 classes?

Really, it’s just how you ride a 450 on Supercross. I was having to constantly slow myself down to go faster throughout the day. I’m not intimidated by the top guys by any means, but it is a different ballgame when you are lined up next to Eli Tomac and those guys.

We’ve got one more round to go this weekend. What will you do differently and what are you and your team hoping for?

One of the biggest things for me is I have just been letting my body recover and rest. I’m hoping to feel more rejuvenated come race day. Also, I’m gonna be more comfortable on the bike, and know the things I need to do after some studying from Saturday’s footage.

He has switched over to the 450 class with support from BWR Honda for the final two rounds in Salt Lake City. | Swap Moto Live photo

What will you do when the season ends? Holiday? And what about this summer for racing?

I don’t have any real plans for the summer, currently. I love racing and would love to do so. I probably will be racing local races, doing some riding lessons/schools and maybe try and hit a National or two. Until then, I will continue to work, better myself and be ready for what’s next!

Will we see you up here in Canada in the future when things at the border lighten up?

I would love to come back up there if the opportunity arises. I’ve had a rough last few years I’ve come up there, so I’d love to come and get some redemption and see all my Canadian friends!

OK, thanks for talking with us. Good luck this weekend and we’ll talk to you soon. 

Thank you, sir. Coffee cheers ☕️ 

Hopefully, Cheyenne gets his chance to come back to Canada for some redemption in the future. | Bigwave photo

Our sport is filled with so many amazing stories. When all is said and done, riders who put it all on the line to get themselves to the races will have memories and life skills to last them forever. Keep up the great effort, Cheyenne.

How’s the weather here in London, Ontario, you ask? Well, it took a turn for the worse and we’re not having any luck with rain and a high of 8C today. It’s Canada at the end of April, so I guess that’s just what we get sometimes.

It doesn’t help that I see Instagram posts from Canadians training at Club MX in South Carolina and it’s up in the 90F range. We’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity soon enough, I guess.

The lockdown continues here but it doesn’t have the same feel as it did a year ago when we were all spraying down our groceries and hoarding toilet paper. In fact, the streets seem busier than ever around here. People are just over this whole thing and it’s showing. Unfortunately, it’s also showing over at the emergency department where Emily works. This will all be over soon, right???

Our Top 5 Riders’ Instagram Posts

Without a lot going on in Canada at the moment, let’s have a look at what our top 5 250 and 450 riders from the 2020 Triple Crown standings have been posting lately:

250 Class:

5. #13 Jeremie McKie

Jeremy is one of the more stylish riders on our circuit. He’s also not afraid to run his earned #13. In fact, he came right out and said he didn’t even give it a second thought about whether or not to use it.

4. #15 Jess Pettis

Jess hasn’t posted in 4 days! That’s OK, he’s busy rehabbing that ACL to be ready for his onslaught on the 450 class this season. I was looking at some photos and video of him and Dylan Wight battling a couple years ago in the 250 class. Let’s hope that transfers over to the premiere class for many years to come.

3. #18 Tanner Ward

Tanner’s mechanic, Nicolas Hebert, won’t be returning to the T wrenches in 2021. It looks like I’ll get a chance to fill my hard drives with yet more photos of Donk this coming season.

2. #46 Marco Cannella

Marco hasn’t posted in 16 days! Last time he did he was putting in laps on the big Yamaha 450. Marco is one of a few riders who thinks 2021 is his year to shine in the 250 class before moving up.

1. #2 Marshall Weltin

Marshal has also been a little quiet on The Gram (or do you say “Insta?”) this past week. I bet when he finally retires, memories of his days in Europe racing MXGP will be up at the forefront of great experiences. He moves up to the 450 class to battle Dylan, Jess, Cole Thompson, and the rest.

450 Class

5. #26 Josh Cartwright

Josh is busy as ever on social media and was part of the Canadian PRMX Wossner Deep South Kawasaki team that put all 4 riders into the Mains at SLC1 Supercross last week. It depends on what happens with the Canadian schedule whether or not we see Josh up here this summer.

4. #10 Keylan Meston

This post from Keylan is 6 days old but kind of shows you where his head is at. He’s having fun. He’s been posting a lot of videos of him riding in Calgary, so he’ll be ready for whatever happens this summer.

3. #3 Shawn Maffenbeier

Maff was on the MTB trails mere hours ago and posted this video. I’ve been riding with him several times and he’s just as fast going up! Shawn returns to familiar ground as he will race a 450 on the MX101 FXR Yamaha team this year. He’ll hope to stay up in the mix with the youngsters this summer.

2. #2 Matt Goerke

I haven’t looked at Matt’s Instagram feed in quite a while, but when I did this is exactly what I was hoping to see from the newly retired racer. Enjoy the good life, Matt. But come on, this is from way back before Christmas! Are you still sitting back there? Maybe he’s too busy enjoying the boat to post.

1. #9 Dylan Wright

Dylan is a month behind in his posting, too! However, it looks like he’s putting time in in the saddle and that’s further bad news for the rest of the field. Who do you think will be able to up their game to run with Dylan outdoors this summer? After watching what he did last MX season, it’s going to be a tall order.

So, that’s what our top 5 riders from both classes were up to as of this Update posting. I think I smell a regular column coming from this. We’ll see how it develops. If nothing else, it will “force” riders to be more active online.

Shelby Turner and Spenser Wilton in Iowa this Weekend

Canadians Shelby Turner and Spenser Wilton will be in Iowa for Round 2 of the 2021 Kenda AMA Extreme Enduro Championships East region.

Shelby is one of the busiest Canadians we have right now as she criss crosses the USA with her boyfriend, Thorn Devlin, and races at least 4 different Off-Road disciplines.

She’s coming off a win in the AMA National Enduro Championships where she’s now 2 for 2. We did a podcast with her after the win that you can listen to here:

We’ll keep an eye on the results to see how they do.

Kade Walker Podcast Interview

Canadian Kade Walker is living one heck of a moto lifestyle over in Europe. The Quebec native now speaks around 5 languages and will be trying his luck in the Italian Enduro Championships and the World Enduro Championships. He finished 3rd in the 2020 European 2-Stroke MX Championships. He was living in Holland, then Portugal, and now he’s back to calling northern Italy home. It’s a great story. Listen to it here:

Book | The Motolady’s Book of Women Who Ride

Another cool thing about this gig is getting copies of moto-related books to read.

This latest one from @hbgcanada is called “The Motolady’s Book of Women Who Ride” by @alicia_elfving

The first page I randomly opened it to is a feature on @tarahgieger

Thank you to Steve Roth over at @quatro_group

I’ll give it a read and then do a short review on it. It looks like it would make another great coffee table book.

There’s still no official word on what our 2021 Canadian Triple Crown Series is going to look like but word around the DMX water cooler is that we won’t be able to go west or as far east as we originally wanted.

Expect to see a similar schedule to last summer with an added Quebec round. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be forced to miss Drumheller in Alberta, Prairie Hill in Manitoba, and River Glade in New Brunswick. Let’s hope these tracks stay motivated to host next year when things get back to normal. That’s going to happen, right?! Again, this isn’t official, so don’t get mad at me or quote me! We also stand around the water cooler and talk about how delicious Taco Bell is after a cycle, so we don’t have a whole lot of credibility…

Final Round of Supercross Saturday

Yep, that’s it. Saturday will be Round 17 of 17 for the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Does Cooper Webb ride safe and mail this final round in or does he go for the win to close out this championship? And which Yamaha rider will stand on the top step in the 250 East/West Shoot…er, I mean Showdown, Justin Cooper or Colt Nichols? Someone else? Let us know in the comments section.

Ken Roczen is looking for a few milestones on Saturday. He is seeking his 20th win, 75th top 5, and 100th top 10. Also, he has never completed a full 17-round season finishing inside the top 9 and is currently, 16 for 16.

Hey, how about this, let’s see how many Canadians read this column. If you’re riding at a track this weekend (Saturday or Sunday) TAG us in a photo on Instagram and we’ll repost it. It’s REPOST WEEKEND here at DMX!

I may live to regret this!

Have a great weekend, everyone. Enjoy the last Supercross before the Great Outdoors starts up.

2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross schedule

May 29 — Fox Raceway National (Pala, California

June 5 — Thunder Valley National (Lakewood, Colorado)

June 19 — High Point National (Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania)

June 26 — Southwick National (Southwick, Massachusetts)

July 3 — RedBud National (Buchanan, Michigan)

July 17 — Spring Creek National (Millville, Minnesota)

July 24 — Washougal Naitonal (Washougal, Washington)

Aug. 14 — Unadilla National (New Berlin, New York)

Aug. 21 — Budds Creek National (Mechanicsville, Indiana)

Aug. 28 — Ironman National (Crawfordsville, Indiana)

Sept. 4 — Pala National (Pala, California)

Sept. 11 — Hangtown National (Sacramento, California)

May your weekend be as dreamy as this pit board message. Justin Petker says, “See you at the races...” | Bigwave photo