Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, as we all know, was having a great rookie season in the 450SX class before crashing in Atlanta and breaking his collarbone. With life on hold right now, we called AC up to see how the injury is doing, what he’s been up to, what’s next, and more.
Keep in mind, we recorded this interview last week, before the announcement that MX Sports would push the start of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship to June 13 with the Florida National. There’s still no official word of when Monster Energy Supercross will resume.
Racer X Online: What’s up, AC?
Adam Cianciarulo: Not a whole lot, man. Just waiting to race.
Right? It’s hard. You’re one of those guys. You get it. It’s hard to think about, “What about my career? What about the supercross season?” We’re all just stuck right now. There’s greater things to worry about, right?
Yeah. When anything happens on a scale this big, it allows you to kind of take a step back and understand. It’s put the sport, and sports in general, in perspective when it’s kind of affecting the world and how people live in general. It’s been pretty crazy seeing the NBA. I know the NFL’s not in season, but hockey and the PGA tour, just everything coming to a stop. It seems like the whole world has kind of stopped moving right now. It’s pretty wild.
I got a DM about, “AC’s going to love this. It allows him to heal up and come racing.” I didn’t reply to the guy but I’m like, I think that’s the last thing he’s really worried about right now.
Seriously. Honestly, I’m missing probably one less race than I would have otherwise. Definitely not what I wanted in any stretch of the imagination. It’s been pretty wild and hectic, and then not knowing if we’re going to race. There’s so many rumors flying around. It’s one of those things where the stuff that we’re doing, we still have to stay in shape and stay sharp. But it’s hard not really knowing. I’m sure a lot of people in a lot of different sports feel that way right now, and a lot of people just in life in general, I guess. It’s just an uncertainty about what you’re doing. It’s definitely something very unique. I don’t think I ever thought something like this would happen in my career or my lifetime, really. It’s not something you think about.
No, absolutely not. Obviously we’re hoping to get some supercross in. I think whether it’s before the outdoors or whether it’s in the fall, I think we get some supercross in. Would you ride outdoors? Or would you just ride supercross? What do you do?
I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer. I think it depends on the individual. But for me, for one, I started riding last Thursday and it’s Wednesday now of the next week. So I have four days on supercross. I think I’ll start riding outdoors either tomorrow or Friday. But I just wanted to get back up to speed on supercross and know whenever it comes to race again, whether it be supercross, I’m ready for it. I got back up to speed on supercross, I felt. Got comfortable again. Now we’re going to get some outdoors and some outdoor testing under our belt as well. Just kind of tightening everything up and staying in shape and staying sharp, like you said.
I was thinking supercross is more dangerous than outdoors, let’s say. It’s a little more risky. To step away from supey for a little bit might be what I would think of doing as a manager or a rider. I might be like, “Hey, I’ll need a few weeks of supercross when we know we’re going to have a race, but for now, I’m going to stay off supercross.” But if you don’t have any suspension or whatever, then who knows?
Yeah. I think it’s hard to throw the risk thing at it because anytime you get on a dirt bike and go as fast as we do it’s a risk. But I certainly understand that point, too. More jumps, less room for error. I’ve had a good time riding since I’ve been back, even though there’s not really a goal. I’ve been actually just riding by myself and just doing some motos. It’s been a good time. Back on outdoors I think tomorrow, and then I think we’ll be there for at least a couple weeks.
So you were off the bike for a month?
[Laughs] Are you high? You’re way off. I was off the bike I think two weeks. Maybe two weeks and a couple days.
Was that it? I’m lost in my timeline, which is not surprising. So you didn’t really lose any fitness. You didn’t lose any strength.
No. It’s funny because I normally notice. Throughout the years I notice if something’s bothering me and I have to take a couple weeks off, anything after two weeks is when I start to notice a decline. I pretty much was able to start running and cycling and everything within three or four days post-surgery. I was able to get back on the bike basically right at two weeks. To be honest, I felt physically probably—even right now, I still feel physically better than I did before I had the little injury. It’s funny; as dirt bike racers, and a lot of people can lie to you but if they were telling the truth, people always get insecure about what they’re doing, and if they’re not doing enough… Most of the time, what we don’t know how to do is rest. It’s super hard to say, “Alright, man. You’ve got to chill for a couple days.” You feel like you’re losing it. You feel like you’re losing your edge. I think that’s just a natural way an athlete looks at things. Stuff like that, being forced to kind of chill out for two weeks, and then to come back and see how good I feel, I think that’s something I’ve learned from a little bit in the sense of I kind of just want to hammer it. Not all the time, but I think sometimes you kind of can convince yourself you’re not doing enough, instead of too much. Good little learning curve.
Speaking of riders and trainers, did you see Filthy Phil’s tweet the other day?
No. I didn’t. What’d he say? I’m sure it was good.
“So funny that people think training is a big secret in our sport. You can either ride a dirt bike or not, lol. You and your trainer’s little jazzercise program doesn’t make a hell of a difference.”
It’s beautiful. That’s one for the masses. Sometimes I do get annoyed with some people nowadays. They get so lost in the cycling and the gym and how you’re lifting and what you’re lifting. It’s super easy to get lost and not let riding be kind of the main focus and your expertise. I’m guilty of doing that a little bit earlier in my career with cycling. I was always crazy into it. Had to hammer all the time, to the point where it affected my riding.
You ride your dirt bike for a living. Let’s ride your dirt bike a ton.
Yeah. Exactly. It’s something that yes, you can put a lot of focus into it and even enjoy what you’re doing off the bike, but I think it’s a fine line there. You have to let riding still be the main thing in your life, essentially.
I’m going to give you some scenarios for restarting the sport here, and you tell me what you think is the best one or what you would prefer. First one: supercross is done and we go right into outdoors whenever racing resumes. Second one: we squeeze one or two supercrosses in, and then we go to outdoors. Maybe push outdoors back a little bit. That’s scenario two. Three: supercross is done, we ride outdoors whenever racing comes back. Then in the fall, we pick up and grab seven more races, including maybe the Monster Energy Cup being the finale.
Yeah, I like number two better. I think that’s the best one. I think push everything back.
Finish supercross, however that works with Feld Entertainment and MX Sports, and then start outdoors?
Yeah. If you want to talk about everybody complaining about no off-season now, and then talk about racing supercross after outdoors? That’s an ultra-marathon right there. That’s gnarly.
All these things are on the table. I hear them from people that would know. Nothing’s decided, but these are all things that have been thrown about.
I know a little bit from what the team has been telling me about the meetings with Feld and all that. It seems like there’s a lot of options on the table. Nobody really knows what to do. This situation is unique.
Anyone who says, “This is what’s going to happen,” is lying. None of us know. Nobody knows.
They’re searching for a hot take there.
Up until the injury, were you satisfied with the way your season was going? I saw you after a couple races really pissed, but publicly you had a good outlook. Other times it’s been awesome and amazing, leading laps and everything else. I’m an optimist…well, even though some people would disagree. I think this collarbone thing is so small, such a minor thing in your career, that I would be really stoked with how everything has been going.
Yeah. Like you said, being pissed off, that’s more so when I feel I didn’t get everything out of it in terms of my finish. If you were to talk to me after Anaheim 2, for example, where I just didn’t have it that night and I didn’t gel with the track and I was just not great, went backwards and got sixth place, I really wasn’t that mad at that race, because that was the best I had. But there’s these other races, like Tampa, where I was running second for a while and we had such a big gap on Kenny [Roczen] and [Cooper] Webb. That would have been an easy second for me. I could have backed it down a second a lap. I tossed it away in the whoops. I’m like, you’ve got to be shitting me. It’s that kind of stuff that frustrates me the most, but when I look back, I was doing my best the whole time so it’s not one of those things where I was satisfied in the position I was in. Of course I look back at the race with Cooper [Webb] in San Diego. Should have gone here, should have gone there, that kind of thing. As far as my speed, I legitimately surprised myself with how well I was able to adapt to the pace of those guys. Because it is quite a bit more than the 250 class. San Diego, for example, and even Oakland when I was behind Ken [Roczen] there for a little bit. I’m riding at a pace where I feel like on the 250 I would have an eight-second lead. Then you have six guys on you, and the second you decide to slow down a little bit you’re in fourth place.
You told me at Oakland when you passed Eli, when you stuffed him there in that corner, you said two things to me. I think they were on the record. One, you figured Eli would get you back later, and two, he was holding you up. You’ve got to go. That’s the pace in that class. I just passed that on to another guy. Like, “AC said, ‘I can’t wait for you, bro. I got to go.’” Which is the big difference in that class. There is no checking up.
Yeah. It’s crazy. Even watching the races on the couch the last couple weekends. You see a guy’s entire race get decided whether he passes a guy or not. He doesn’t take advantage of the one mistake the guy makes in front of him, and the guy behind him is right there. Then he passes him, and you have to mentally regroup and then go back after that dude. Meanwhile you have another guy behind you that is on a factory motorcycle. It’s pretty wild. The mental state has to always be forward, and even more so in obviously this class than the little bike class. These guys just know how to take advantage of it more. You can sense it coming off somebody, whether they are trying not to go backwards or they’re trying to go forward. That’s something that you just have to put yourself in that mindset. You’re always forward. It doesn’t matter who it is. As a rookie coming in, you have Ken Roczen or Eli Tomac in front of you. It’s hard to convince yourself that you need to still go forward. I might sound like somebody that’s not as confident or whatever saying that, but that’s not true at all. I’m just being honest. That’s how it is. I feel like I have now convinced myself that I can beat those guys. So I like where my mindset is at now, as opposed to maybe the first couple races in the season. I look back at Anaheim 1 where after I made that mistake, I was right behind Justin [Barcia]. If I look back and I had the mindset I have now then, who knows what I could have done there? But I was just a little bit too satisfied. Second place, your rookie supercross race, that’s not bad. But that’s not getting everything out of your ability on the night.
For sure. What’s it been like to work with [Monster Energy Kawasaki crew chief] Oscar Wirdeman? Just a legend guy. He’s worked with Stew, worked with Chad. How’s that been?
It’s super cool, man. You know how I am with watching all the old supercrosses and stuff. I call him the famous mechanic. He’s like Gosselaar or anybody else. You see his face all the time. They almost become like the riders, in a sense. They’re attached to the riders.
Matthes too, or no?
Well… You know how it is. It’s been cool to have somebody with his credibility kind of guiding me through, helping me through my rookie season. It’s been cool. I have an open mind anyway, but certainly when it comes to somebody with his experience and background, it’s really easy to kind of take what he has to say and really take it to heart and be able to grow from it.
According to Chad Reed, he’s the smartest guy in the pits.
Yeah, he’s smart. There’s a lot of stuff, too. His skill set is very broad, so it fits his role as crew chief perfectly where he can kind of fill in the gaps here and there and help me out. He’s so, so smart with suspension too. As you know, suspension on a 450 even compared to a 250, it’s probably 50 percent more important. If I didn’t have him in that department, it would be definitely not as good.