For the first time since turning pro in 2014, Adam Cianciarulo is about to finish a full supercross season. It’s been a very rocky road since the glory days of at the beginning of his rookie year, but it seems like he finally has it turned around.

After winning Daytona earlier in the year, Adam had a minor setback with a knee injury in the following rounds. In East Rutherford he was back to speed, but suffered with his fitness due to a bad virus from earlier in the week.

We talked to him about his race in East Rutherford, the learning curves of getting back into supercross, and his goals for the future:

Moto Now: Firstly, take us through your night.

Adam Cianciarulo: The night was frustrating. I felt really good from practice all the way through the heat race. Even the first little bit of that main, I just felt really solid on the bike. It was just one of those practice days; I wasn’t the fastest, but I felt like it was just a couple of little things that I kinda screwed up. I was feeling really good about the day. Obviously I had a good heat race, I got a good start and I didn’t have a lot of people in my heat race. I only had Ferrandis really from the contenders, everyone else was in the other one, but still! I felt like I rode well. In the main event I was in a good position, feeling really good behind Joey there at the beginning, but I was just battling a little bit of a virus this week. I had stuff coming out of both ends, shitting my pants and throwing up. It was just one of those things. We were pushing so hard right now, and especially on a tough track like this, you gotta be at 100% to battle for wins and for podiums, and that just wasn’t in the cards for me tonight. I suffered the best I could, but eventually ended up 5th. It’s one of those deals where I’m bummed, but I feel the potential is there for me to battle with those guys for wins and for podiums. It sucks, but I’m learn something and [will] carry it into Vegas and the outdoors.

How about that 2-3-3 after the start straight? I was watching all day, and I think you were the first one to do it, even out of the 450s.

Yeah, I think they peaked that first lip up right before our last practice. I was doing a slow lap when I scouted it out and tried it. I think it was pretty easy, and for me it made the triple into the corner less sketchy because you had more speed to hit it and that face was really rutted and chewed down. But I did it for too long in the main event because it was actually slower, and I ended up getting passed there by two dudes. So nothing fast.

You were right on Joey at one point. Were you feeling out places to past, or just waiting it out?

Yeah, I felt really in my comfort zone at the beginning when I was behind Joey. I felt like I could ride in my comfort zone and ride solid. I mean, Joey was going fast, but it wasn’t over my head or anything, and I do feel like I was faster in a couple of places. I was cutting down after the rhythm section after the start, gaining on him right there before the whoops. I had a couple places, but I just ran out of gas so early, like 7 or 8 laps in. It’s one thing if you get a little bit winded 5 laps to go, you can suffer through it and hold your position. But it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. Should, woulda, coulda. It’s motocross and this happens. We’ll move forward.

What do you think of Joey cutting the track? You had passed him when he crashed, but he cut back in front of you when he got up.

I honestly didn’t see it to be honest with you. I was suffering out there, so I was just focusing on myself. But if he was in a position where he felt like it was dangerous to go back on the track where he was, I would understand that. It’s one of those things where I can’t comment on it because I didn’t see it.

Fair enough. Okay, so let’s talk about your season. You haven’t raced supercross for two seasons. Is there anything you’re still getting back into and learning?

Absolutely. For me I’m so competitive, I just had to have people tell me: ‘listen man, you can’t do it all in one day’. I started over as a rookie again this year. As much as I wanted to come in just as I was when I started supercross, that was a dream season and it was the perfect scenario. I wanted to come in and win right away, but I just had to say: ‘when it’s there it’s there, take it, but don’t force anything’. It’s one of those things. If this was the first or second round, I probably would have put myself on the ground today before I faded backward. But we’re healthy, sitting here and going into the last round of supercross, something I can say that I’ve never done before (laughs)! I think there’s a lot of positives from it. If I was just super slow and fading backward, then I would say there’s a problem, but I think I’m at the point now where when I’m fit, I’m battling those guys. When I get there, I know I’m doing the right things and doing everything I can, so I can’t beat myself up.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned, and the biggest challenge along the way?

You have to put yourself in a good position. The field is pretty deep this year. Sometimes the East coast doesn’t get a lot of love, I think a lot of people think the West coast is more stacked, but it would be hard to make that argument this year. It has been pretty gnarly, so you just have to put yourself in a good position! And that’s what I did today. I got a really good start, both in my heat and in the main. But at that point I just gotta be fit, and that’s the thing I struggled with today from that virus. It is what is is, I’m not going to get too down about it. But yeah, kinda starting over as a rookie again this season, and I feel like we’re getting there speed-wise. I just feel like I’m going to keep growing as a rider, as a person, and keep getting better.

What are your goals for the outdoor season?

For me I just want to keep getting better. I feel like I haven’t even come close to reaching my potential. I feel like it’s my rookie year, and I’m just going to continue to keep getting better. Even though these last few races I’ve run into problems that have kept me from getting good results, I feel like I’m still getting better! I’m feeling really good about my riding right now, and I just want to have a solid outdoor season where I can continue to build and go into next season even stronger.

So what is your true potential then? And when do you want to move up to the 450?

I think I will be on the 250 next year for sure, and probably another year after that. I’m only 20 years old, and I have a lot of growing to do on a 250. I feel like I’m at 70% of what I’m capable of. Before I go to 450s, I want to be winning these races, and winning them consistently. I 100% think I’m capable of that, and I won’t stop trying until I get there.

Do you think ahead about the future? Or do you think back about all the years you missed with injury?

No, if you think ahead or back, you look at any successful person, whether it’s in sports or business or anything, everyone talks about the same thing which is being present. Focusing on the present, and not letting the past bring you down or getting worked up about the future. You can only control what you control, and that’s something I’ve really learned about [when] being hurt. If you start to think about what has happened, and how long you have to go, you can find yourself depressed and not wanting to go forward. So you gotta put your best foot forward everyday, and know that you will get there eventually. I’ve come from the bottom for sure to get back to where I am now, and I intend to keep going up.

Cover photo from Racer X Online by Rich Shepherd

Scott Yargeau

I grew up racing motocross in a small town in Canada, and I now work as a mathematician in New York City. Combining my two passions, I'm excited to apply my skills in data analysis to the sport to produce stats-based race reports and projections.

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