Nate Adams | Still Here
Like the shots you see in this post? All came from Nate’s Instagram account, which you can see at instagram.com/nateadams741
Missing from the roster at this year’s X Games freestyle lineup was one of the most decorated riders in the sport’s history, Nate Adams. The multi-time medalist suffered a major concussion in the weeks leading up to the event, and rather than rush back into action and risk further harm, Adams opted out of competition. He’s returned to riding in the time since and is preparing for the new year, which may include more riding than ever for the FMX icon.
It was a rough year saddled with injuries, but how are you feeling now?
I’m feeling good. I’ve been on the bike for a while now after a couple of concussions right before X Games and a broken collarbone, so it was a rough year. I hadn’t missed an X Games since I was seventeen, and that was a tough one to accept. But I’m back on the bike and doing a demo and the Best Whip contest and Monster Energy Cup. I’m looking forward to that, working on DEFT and building the brand, and riding my dirt bike.
Concussions have been a huge topic for sports recently, and not often does a guy voluntarily sit out with one. How was the process for you?
That was a tough one and part of accepting, “Okay, I’m not right.” When I broke my femur in 2004, I got a really bad concussion and this was the worst that I have felt since then. I took the same concussion test the NFL uses, and for three weeks leading up to X Games, I took that test once a week and couldn’t pass. That was the deciding factor, as well with myself knowing that it was an internal battle of “Should I go and see what happens? I could ride at seventy-five percent and see what happens.” I really thought at my third test that I would have passed, and I wasn’t really close to passing. Still knowing that I wasn’t feeling right, I had to let X Games and my sponsors know that I wasn’t coming, which was probably the toughest career decision that I’ve ever had to make.
Everyone knows that once you have one big concussion, the next ones come easier and are more difficult to overcome…
Yeah, it happens. I’m one of those guys that is known for getting concussions, but since 2004 until now, I hadn’t had one that took more than a couple of days to feel right again. I usually take a week or two off after I would get one. But this stuck with me. I think having a ten-year gap between big concussions, made the weeks following good for me. I mean, getting a concussion is never good but I’ve had multiple concussions in those ten years and to have a span where one didn’t affect me that badly until now was good.
No offense, but you are getting up there in age for the sport. What keeps pulling you back in, and did a break like this refresh what you want to do?
No, because I never like taking a break [Laughs]. It’s never a break because you want to be back on the bike so badly, and then you miss an event like the X Games, which is the biggest event for me to see my fans and appease my sponsors, and to miss it was a bummer. I don’t feel like I am slowing down, because last year I won a bronze and a gold, then got bronze medals at the Global X Games rounds when I was coming off a shoulder injury. I feel like I am still there when I compete, and it was a bummer to have had those two concussions a month prior to X Games. I really feel like I could have won Speed and Style.
Where do you feel the sport is at now? There are a lot of tours, but not a lot of contests.
Yeah, and the riders are bummed on that. The riders like touring and they are fun, but we like to compete. A lot of us came from the racing world, and the X Games, X Fighters, and Dew Tour are about it right now. We’d really like to compete more, so it’s up to the promoters to have freestyle contests.
The latest trend is a return to freeriding. Is that something you are interested in, or are you more of a ramp guy?
Absolutely! I’ve been freeriding my whole life, since growing up in Arizona there weren’t tracks open seven days a week like there are in California. So we went freeriding. I think Twitch did a great thing with Chasing the Storm this year and 420%. It’s always been a big deal for freestyle riders and pro racers, and it’s great that it is finally getting some limelight.
How is DEFT? Are you surprised by the growth and how nearly every apparel company lifted the idea of a minimal glove?
It’s going great and keeping me busy, with riding and building the brand. I think that imitation is flattery, and we’ve reminded ourselves of that from the beginning. Being a small company, you feel like you can get overpowered by the bigger companies but that is just part of it. We have been surprised and overjoyed by the growth, and it’s an awesome thing to have the concept that we talked about become a reality. The DC collaboration has been huge; They are a sponsor of mine and now they work with my business, which is a great thing.
What does the next year look like?
I’m negotiating now to be on the Nitro Circus USA tour, then the X Games, Monster Energy demos at Monster Energy Cup and the Vegas Supercross, and European demos. Then we are staying busy building the brand and living life.