Photos by Ryne Swanberg and Mike Emery
Adam Cianciarulo's win last weekend at Budds Creek was an emotional one, and maybe a little overshadowed by Zach Osborne's spectacular championship win the same day. The friendly rider from Florida has finally checked off an outdoor victory after a summer of highs and lows, and we caught up with him in Florida to hear more about the emotion behind it. Hear how it all came together from AC himself.
First of all, huge congrats on the first win. Take us through it…finally things came together how you wanted them to.
Yeah, I think it's just a combination of really the whole season and the whole backstory to the season. It's been up and down for me, I had some success in Supercross but we've kind of been in uncharted territory all year. I've been able to be at all the races thankfully and that's something I've yet to do over the course of a season, so in that aspect it's been super successful for me and I've also shown flashes of what I'm capable of. I think the flashes and knowing what I'm capable of almost makes it more frustrating when I'm not there. All season long I feel like I've been on the cusp of breaking out to win, and in the midst of that I hadn't even gotten on the podium. It's funny I was actually talking to Nick Wey after Unadilla and he's like, "I feel like you're close to winning, but we haven't even got a podium yet." So we were kind of missing that step and a lot of it was mental for me, needing to focus on myself and what I had to do. The day went really well though; I was super confident coming into Budds Creek even though I did have some rough races coming in. It was just nice to kind of see everything come together, and honestly it didn't feel out of my comfort zone at all. The day went really smoothly and I think I can replicate that.
It has to be nice to rebound especially because you've been in easily some of the most frustrating situations of race result outcomes this year. Is it safe to say Washougal was the toughest pill to swallow? That was an odd points scenario that caused you to go from overall win to off the podium unfortunately.
Yeah, that was a tough pill to swallow. That last moto I was riding on the defense and I was thinking of the math in my head and not letting certain people pass me. I really didn't know what was going on, but I thought myself right out of that overall pretty much. Had I just focused on myself and riding correctly I would have been fine.
And those are the pieces of the puzzle you are talking about coming together, right?
Yeah, Exactly. And that's it. For me, I kind of have had to relearn a lot of that stuff that I've gotten away from the last few years. It was a lot of down time, and you kind of just have to learn how to do stuff again you know? It's the same thing in life with anything you do really. It's just kind of been frustrating trying to pin point what the problem is, and when things don't go right or something doesn't work we change it. I think for me I kind of found what it is and what I need to work out. Washougal was tough on me though. It was probably the worst loss of my career short of me losing that championship when I hurt my shoulder in my rookie year. But at the same time that's what my whole career has been built on, being able to come back from adversity. I think a lot of people would have been done by now, and there's certainly a few times where I was almost done. It just makes it more rewarding. I was sitting on the plane on the way home from Budds Creek and thought, "If someone offered me 10 million dollars in cash to take that win away there's no way in hell I'd take it." Not even for a second. Can you ask for anything better than that? Just having that feeling of winning is irreplaceable. Everything I've gone through in the past few years, if it all leads to that moment and that moment feels that good than there's no place that I'd rather be. There's nothing else that I would rather happen than what has happened.
You've been the fastest qualifier a handful of times, does that often keep the fire burning? Speed is something everyone strives for.
I think I've always kind of had the speed. Even my rookie year in Supercross, there were a couple of times when I was faster than the 450 guys in practice. I feel like that's why I'm still here and why people continue to believe in me through the injuries because I have shown those flashes of speed. Being fast is fun, but it's not winning. Eventually you will become the guy that everyone knows will be fast in practice and get labeled as that. It got frustrating, I was fastest qualifier like three or four times in a row, and I'm like, "Ok, I don't care about this if I'm not winning races." I know I can be faster than anybody; it's just whether or not I can put the pieces together for two motos.
Was anything happening during the motos that you figured out and changed?
Yeah, totally. I think especially as an amateur you grow up [pauses]…a perfect example is Justin Cooper at Loretta Lynn's. This year I went out for a day for Kawasaki and I was watching him and you could tell the kid had been on the fences all day long watching the lines develop. He went out there in the sight lap and he knew exactly what line he was taking and he took that line the whole moto and he dominated. If you marked down where he went he probably only went 6 inches to the right or left of it. As an amateur I was really good at that too, you survey the lines and when its go time you do that. But in outdoor racing there are so many riders on the track and motos are longer –the track changes 15-20 minutes in and you have to change your lines and adapt. I was always really good in the first 10-15 minutes of the moto and I felt like I could just kill it. Then I wasn't adapting to the track and not adapting to the lines, and the other guys are already adapting. So by the time we get to the end of the moto they're flowing while I'm all out of whack. That's one thing that Nick Wey and I have been working on, and I feel like I did a lot better at that at Budds Creek. It's something I need to be conscious of at the races.
To put this win up against your rookie year wins or your Daytona Supercross win, which one felt the best?
I want to say this was probably the most rewarding win of my career, just because winning a Supercross race –I won my first one. It's not like I struggled to get there, I mean it was difficult of course, but as far as this one goes I felt like I had my back against the wall. Everyone that supports me knows that I am capable of winning and I know that Mitch, team Kawasaki, my Dad, and Nick Wey are all sitting there like, "When's it going to happen? When's it going to happen?" I can feel that, and I had been close a coupe weekends before –Unadilla I almost won that first moto and Washougal it was the same thing there. Then Joey got hurt in practice and I was the only one under the semi. Just the whole season, like we only had two races left and in order to content for the championship next year I have to get this out of the way. So to be able to get it done when I feel like I had to get it done, there's no better feeling than that. Coming in clutch, I guess you could say.
Another positive is your announcement that you re-signed your contract with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki for two more years. That's big news –talk about that a little.
Yeah, I mean coming into the year I knew it was the last year of my contract and I knew I had to give them a reason to continue to invest in me and support me. I think that there's no place I would rather be. I've been with Kawasaki since I was 7 years old and Pro Circuit since I was 12 years old. They're all family, I know everybody, I have everyone's contacts in my phone and I can text them whenever I want to –it's a cool deal. Not having to think about that for a few years is nice and I'll probably end my 250 career with Pro Circuit. I want to add some championship number one plates to the door and that's all I've wanted to do since I was 8 or 9 years old.
So Ironman national straight into the MXGP, correct?
Yeah the plan is to end this season on a strong note at Ironman national, and then I'm on the docket for the Jacksonville USGP. That'll be nice; I'll probably end up seeing family up there, as it's pretty close to home. I'll probably end up staying with my parents up there since they live closer, that will be nice.
Thanks and good luck these next two weeks Adam.