After a judging debacle at last year’s X Games in Los Angeles threw the schedule Adam Jones had created for his year into disarray, the former X Games FMX gold medalist re-evaluated both his career plan and his reasons for riding. Disenchanted with the contest circuit and its judging system, the Reno, Nevada, based veteran made the decision to only please himself with his riding. This choice has paid off just a few months into the 2013 season, as Jones is riding at a level that both he and the judges are pleased with. At last weekend’s X Fighters stop in Osaka, Japan, he was awarded third place and was thrust back into the spotlight. Fresh from his flight back to the States, we called Jones to discuss his time in Japan, how he avoids becoming burnt out, and what the future holds for both himself and the sport his loves.
The contest season is even more rigorous this year with the X Games and X Fighters being multiple stops. How do you stay sharp and ready for every round?
When you are riding that much, it is not hard to stay sharp; it's more about staying fresh and avoiding getting burned out. I thought the year was pretty easy with the Nuclear Cowboyz tour, because I don't push it too hard during the week when I ride, and as soon as that is over you get into getting ready for contests. I try and ride all through the year, but sometimes you have to take a couple of days or a week off. With all of the travel we have to do, we can get burned out, so I go at my own pace. There is a lot going on and I think my schedule is busier than it has ever been.
How has the weather in Reno been this spring? It seems like your spot there is always getting blown out by the wind.
It has been a really windy spring. It is windy up here a lot, but it is usually still good to ride. This year it would be warm for a couple of days and then a cold front would come in, bring the weather down to 50 degrees, then it would go back up to 80. Every week we would have two huge weather shifts, and when that was happening, the wind was too much. Now it seems like it is more constant and into summer weather. We can count on the mornings and evenings to ride, aside from the one or two days that have bad winds.
For everyone to say over the past few years that freestyle was dying, it seems like this year has been one of the biggest for the sport in the last 10. Would you agree?
Yeah, definitely. There are guys that are pushing the limits and have progressed the sport with new tricks, and all of the new events and the exposure that we have is awesome. We are all getting more television time, which gives us more time to show what is going on. Anyone who thinks that freestyle is dying should go to an X Fighters event. It is the one contest that is put on great because they go through all of the right steps. Every one I have ever gone to sells out in just a few weeks and the people are going crazy to get there. I think that freestyle is still around, but it might take some strategic marketing to work out like it should.
It helps that X Fighters is a series that is organized by someone deeply involved the sport with Tes Sewell.
Tes is a good dude. He cares about the rider's safety and for him to be running the events the way they should be, with us in minds, gives us a great place to ride.
How was last weekend in Osaka, Japan?
The weekend was great and I had a lot of fun. From the first time I got on the course, I was in a mindset and having a blast. It was a great weekend for me.
Do you compete differently against someone like Thomas Pages, who is well known in Europe and has such a diverse amount of tricks?
There is only so much that I can do in a run. I don't have a body varial or a 540, so going up against a guy like him makes you pull out all of the stops and do everything you can as good as you can. With a run like he has, that is the only way to stop him.
You've traveled a ton already this year because just a few weeks ago you were in Spain, now Japan, and maybe Germany soon. Does that, along with the riding, take a lot of you?
The crazy travel wears you down. When the Nuclear Cowboyz tour ended, I was home on Monday, but I had to leave the next Monday for X Fighters at Glen Helen. I was home from that the next day and went to Barcelona on Wednesday, then was back from that by Sunday. There were a few weekends off but I was gone on a Monday again. After Barcelona, which we didn't even get to ride because of wind and rain, I was smoked. With the travel, the pressure, and the stress, I got home from Barcelona and decided to take the whole week for myself and my family. I didn't touch my bike one time and I think that had something to do with why I had so much fun in Osaka. I wasn't close to burned out when I got there. I got there and was excited to ride. It was a good choice for me, just because how crazy my year had been up to then. To take that time and not even think about riding helped more than anyone could imagine.
Last year after X Games, you were frustrated with the event, and rightfully so. Were you surprised to be invited back for Barcelona?
Yeah, I was definitely surprised. I don't know if I am going to be there every year and the last couple of years have been a struggle for me. Before Barcelona I didn't know, and now Munich is three weeks away and they still haven't told me. It is very stressful and it is a bummer of not knowing if I will be in. I feel like I have had a great freestyle career and that I haven't fallen off of the face yet. I don't know why it has always been so hard for me to be invited, but it always is.
What are your plans for the future?
I'm working on a deal to ride in all of the Nitro Circus tours. They have a few coming up and I am trying to get in all of those that I can. It is looking good and I'm just waiting to get the final paperwork to come in. I'll have contests for the rest of the year, but I don't know honestly. I want to ride them until I can't keep up anymore. I took the whole year off last year and only did the X Games, and I was pretty over it. I had a little shift in my thinking and I'm into it now. For whatever reason I decided to keep riding contests, but for myself. I was bummed out after X Games last year and it was depressing for me to put in the work that I did. I realized one day, " Who cares? Don't judge yourself on what someone else is saying." If I went had gone into the X Games last year just hoping to nail my best runs, I would have been happy. Instead, I based myself on something else that didn't happen and it ruined me for a couple of weeks. Luckily, it happened because it changed my point of view and for the first time in my career, I am out there for me and to have fun.
Knowing that Jones is into “heavy shit,” we asked for the list of albums currently in his rotation. Missing from this list is the latest from As I Lay Dying, Awaked, which is not included in Spotify’s catalog.