Monday Conversation: Adam Cianciarulo

Monday Conversation: Adam Cianciarulo

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Remember Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo? We haven’t seen the kid since the Toronto Supercross when he separated his shoulder in practice and was forced to pull out for the night. Things got worse when it was decided that he needed surgery on said shoulder. That was it. After going 1-2-1-2-1 in the first five 250SX East Region rounds, and leading the points, Cianciarulo was done for the year.

We called up the Florida boy wonder to talk about his recovery, his thoughts on this summer’s nationals and some other stuff. Welcome to the off-season!

Racer X: First off, thanks for your donation to the Team Canada Motocross des Nations effort. That’s mighty nice of you even though Canada was the site where your whole season fell apart.
Adam Cianciarulo: I feel it’s the least I could do, not being able to race that full main event for my Canadian fans, just to give back and lead the road to glory of eventually, probably…well let’s face it, the odds are they’re going to win des Nations [Laughs].

I agree. So you and your doctors found some things in your shoulder that were hereditary or something along the line where your shoulder’s actually going to be stronger than ever once you come back, right?
Absolutely. We definitely found some things out that it makes it easier for me, knowing what I know now. It seemed like my body grew at such a fast rate. Pretty much I was going through the main part of puberty as I’m doing all this riding and training and growing and all that stuff. But 100 percent we found out what the problem was. My surgeon, Dr. Greenbaum, was unbelievable with helping me and I’m super confident in his work. That always makes it better when your guy is confident in what he’s doing. I fully believe in it and I believe in the work I’m doing now to strengthen my shoulder.

Obviously it sucks; I missed the outdoors, but at the same time I’ve been strengthening my shoulder from six weeks after Toronto until now. So you can imagine how much stronger it is. It’s going to come in handy for next year. The way I look at it is once the gate drops at Anaheim 1, the previous year-nobody really cares. It’s all about right there, right now. I’ve enjoyed being able to focus solely on that and coming back better, stronger.

A shoulder injury would put an early end to AC's 2014 season. Photo: Simon Cudby
A shoulder injury would put an early end to AC's 2014 season. Photo: Simon Cudby

And if there were a chance for you to race any nationals, you ended that with a small crash while practicing.
I was never going to race any nationals. But, yeah, that was weird. Unfortunately the first week I got back on the bike I was just riding a turn track, the same turn track I’ve ridden at the farm for years, was staying within myself completely, not pushing it at all. I came into a corner, washed the front end, fell over into the sand. I’m like, oh man, got to pick her up. And the bike swung around and actually the swing arm just kind of tagged my leg on the way down. Ended up cracking my fib.

So that was a little bit of time off but it really only took three weeks until I was back on the road bike and I’m riding again this week. So it’s really no big deal, and for me too it’s good almost to have that reassurance to make sure the shoulder is completely ready to go. I felt how it was on the bike and it’s just given me an opportunity to advance my progress in that area. And let’s be honest, I really don’t need that extra six weeks when it comes to Anaheim. It’s four months away. So it’s no big deal at all. I’m back practicing this week and it’s back business as usual.

Are you dropping a hint that you will be riding through the West?
No, I’m not sure, to be honest with you. I believe I will be ready [if I race West]. I’m anxious to get back on a supercross track again. I’ll be riding outdoors a little bit getting back into it but I’ll be ready by West Cost 100 percent. I’m completely fine with racing West and completely fine with racing East. I believe I can win on either coast. So whatever comes my way I’m ready for it.

Well we know how Mitch Payton works: everybody be ready for Anaheim 1 and then we’ll worry about it then.
Exactly. You see the other teams and now it’s in their rosters [set for a coast] and then it’s us [Pro Circuit] waiting [to see which coast we ride]. But I think it’s good too because really everybody feels the pressure of being ready and then the guys that get to go to the East Coast, they’re almost kind of a little bit ahead of the game, too. They feel like they made that little push. It’s weird because you do have to still do your training around when it starts. And for me, last year I basically was training to peak at Anaheim 1 in case I raced the West Coast. Then when I didn’t race West Coast I basically had to do a second boot camp almost to get ready back for the East Coast that month and a half later. It definitely plays more of a role than people think.

Let’s talk a little bit about Ken Roczen. You were there day in, day out. You see what he goes through. It’s pretty remarkable as a rookie in that class to win the title. Were you surprised?
No, I wasn’t surprised and even if I didn’t know Kenny I don’t think I would be surprised. You see Kenny and you hear about him from when I was an amateur. He’s kind of the kid that basically everybody talked about from over there. He comes out, he wins a GP like a couple weeks after his 15th birthday. You just know somebody like that, they do things like win 450 championships in their rookie year. You can see the pattern develop. Even when he came in last year here, he was not scared of anybody. He’s won every level he’s gone to and he’s won right away. So in his mind I think it’s, “Why am I not going to win now?” And even during the week, the few weeks everybody was saying “he’s fading, he’s fading,” which it did look like, he never wavered from what he was doing. He believed in what he was doing.

There were some things going on with him, obviously, but he believed in himself, he believed in the program. I think if you trust in it and you trust in what you’re doing, I think you come around. For any rookie racing that long of a season you’re going to go downhill at some point. If you look back even to when RV [Ryan Villopoto] rode, when he first won his 2011 championship on a 450, it wasn’t what RV did the last three years. But being around him and being able to watch it on TV and seeing the struggles, I think he copes with everything really well. That’s what it is in this sport; it’s coping with everything when it goes bad.

Cianciarulo is back on the bike getting ready for 2015. Photo: Simon Cudby
Cianciarulo is back on the bike getting ready for 2015. Photo: Simon Cudby

I talked to him after RedBud and he just kept saying how great he felt and he wished the next round was the next day. I don’t think its cockiness, it’s just confidence.
Exactly. And when he does get on those rolls and he does feel that good, it shows in every aspect. He’s good no matter what, whether it’s that or not, but when he does get on those rolls it’s like everything… The bike rides that we were going on, the gym that we were doing, it was no problem for him. It’s like he’s floating on a cloud. Everything’s perfect and it feels like everything’s going your way. When he gets on a roll like that, I wouldn’t want to race him. That’s for sure.

You’re going to have to here in a few years. And for yourself, between Roczen and RV, you know this program’s so solid. Everything that you guys do is so solid; from on the dirt bike to off the dirt bike, this is a title-winning program.
Absolutely. And I don’t think it’s so much me knowing the program is good from another rider, because I believe that it’s got to be different. Kenny is older than me, and obviously on a 450. All that’s different and different programs work for different people, but in the end I believe in the program for myself. I think it’s good having proven winners, proven champions around you. I’m going to the track next year and all off-season with the guy that basically, he’s the best rider in America.

Obviously that could be argued, but he won the championship. He knows how to win. He will be a favorite to win next year in supercross. And I’ll be there gauging my speed off of him every day. It’s just like the same thing that I did with Ryan. And I have the same mentality as Kenny as to where, well why can’t I be as fast as Kenny? Why shouldn’t I be as fast as Kenny? And I’m not. I’m not as fast as Kenny, but it’s not going to deter me from wanting to be and training with that mindset and training with those people. I think it steps up the progress a lot.

And Jessy Nelson, another guy that was down there working with you guys this summer, you’ve got to be pumped to see him win the moto in Indiana. You guys all seem to be gelling well. What was it like having Jessy around?
Jessy’s super cool. I told him when we got to be good friends when he was here, I was always scared of him, because I would race the super mini class on my 85 when I was super little and he was the badass, super tall kid on a super mini that was just destroying people left and right. It’s cool to see that side of it from what I remember of him and then to meet him, it’s so funny; he’s got a good sense of humor and that’s why he gels well with the crowd. He can take a verbal beating. He’s super cool and we’ve been going at it at the track, so it’s always good when you have somebody to ride with and push.

You bought a house recently so how are you going to stay away from the parties and all that kind of stuff?
Well, I can tell you how I’m going to stay away from the parties and it’s the fact that Aldon’s [Baker, his trainer] house is about 1200 meters to my front door. And then I have Kenny that’s about a mile down the road. And the thing is, the reason why I had to go so close to everybody, is we have to do road bike rides pretty much every morning. For the most part you don’t want to wake up every morning at 7:30 and go drive to somebody’s house, unload your bike and then ride. You don’t want to do that. So you’d have to basically be within striking distance of the road bike path. So that’s how that got determined.

You and Kenny are pretty active on social media. Do you ever feel like maybe you go too far on social media? You put yourself out there too much and invite negative comments from people that may get under your skin?
I think it’s all about how you put yourself out there. I think from kind of getting an idea of how people are, I can get an idea of what to post and what to like. You can tell, if I post too many road biking pictures, “Oh, what are you, Lance Armstrong now?” They want to see riding. I know the crowd and you can kind of decipher what they want to see. If they want to see that my shoulder’s getting better, they’re going to get a picture of me in the gym. It’s just stuff we do all the time, but they want to see it. Kenny and I talk about it, like when he was having a couple bad races there, every picture it’s just non-stop. It was the same thing for me last year if you remember outdoors, everybody was like, “Dude, what’s the problem? Oh, you’re sick? Oh, that’s convenient.”

And after a while I was like, “Man, I’m just going to stop.” But eventually people come around and I think social media is give and take, the fact that it can give you a lot if you can take the constant criticism. If you can’t take the constant criticism from random people on your Instagram then you probably shouldn’t be racing motocross.

Cianciarulo won three rounds his rookie year.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Cianciarulo won three rounds his rookie year.  Photo: Simon Cudby

It was a tough year for your team this year.
Yeah, I think it was tougher because it started off so well, at least on the East Coast side of things, with myself, Blake [Baggett], and Martin [Davalos] sweeping the podium. At that point in everybody’s mind, Martin crashed twice and he got third. We were all so far ahead. We know people are going to catch up but we think we have a legitimate shot of being up there on the podium all the time.

I would have put a lot of money on one of you three winning the title for sure.
Exactly. But I think being in that mindset, as a rider, I don’t think any of us ever let ourselves get into it. We have this thing where we swept the podium like it was just going to be us three all the time because you start a season at a certain level. But I don’t care how fast you are, I don’t care how many seconds you win by, by the end of the season people are going to figure it out. It’s just going to happen. I think for Mitch and for the team and for the riders it started out so well and then it didn’t end very well, so we were in the mindset of it’s going to go good and it didn’t, but I know Mitch would tell you that’s racing and life goes on and it’s time to improve and time to come out swinging next year.

You should really buy your mechanic a gift basket or something because being the mechanic for a guy who is out for the year means that you are low man on the totem pole at the shop.
I’m sure Brett isn’t exactly as happy as he would be if he was out there wrenching every weekend, but that’s the mechanic thing. I know how you guys are; you guys want to win as bad as we do. Brett’s just got to wait a couple more months and we’ll be back at it.

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