The last time we saw Adam Cianciarulo on a bike, he was leading the combined East and West field of 250 riders at the 2018 Las Vegas Supercross. Minutes after crossing the finish line in first, he dropped the unexpected news that he would be sitting out the summer series in order to repair a damaged ACL that he suffered back in 2017 at the Indianapolis Supercross. We caught up with AC92 to see how things have been going since then and what the future holds as he recovers and sets his sights on 2019.
Alright, let's go back a bit. You win the 2018 Las Vegas Supercross, you're on the podium, and boom, you drop the news that you're getting ACL surgery and you're out for the summer. Take us through how things have been going since that moment.
The week before [Las Vegas] I had my pre-surgery appointment and I had known I was going to get surgery for a while, so it wasn't necessarily devastating for me. I had a chance to ease into it. After the offseason when I had agitated my knee again at the MXGP of the USA in September it was the tentative plan with the team and everyone that I'd get through Supercross and then do it. I always thought that I'd probably get it done after Vegas and then I confirmed it a few weeks before Vegas. It was definitely different, it's not a situation I've ever been in. Leaving the practice track on Thursday for Vegas and knowing that it was going to be my last time on a bike until like September was different. I feel like I rode with nothing to lose really and I was super stoked to be out there. I always feel really good in Vegas on that super hard, slick dirt. I feel great and yeah, obviously after the race I had some fun after that because you have to, it's Vegas. Then I got surgery on Wednesday and since then it's been recovery. I feel like I only celebrated the win in Vegas for a couple days and then reality hits and I get surgery. You know, surgery is never fun no matter how many times you have it. You can't really prepare for it. It's just one of those things that is uncomfortable and it sucks, but therapy has been going really well and everything feels great with my knee. It's difficult to watch these guys race outdoors and knowing that I'm not out there competing, but it's just one of those things and you have to do the best you can every day with what you have. I've been making the best out of it and been having a good time and not letting it make me miserable by any means, so I'm just doing what I can at this point.
Right now, the expectation is to line up for the 2019 Supercross season, but when do you actually get to return to riding the bike?
The recovery right now is four to five months with the knee, which would put me in the September to October area. Obviously, that's subject to change and we're not going to rush it. I'm not trying to at that point because we still have plenty of time to get ready. It's not one of those deals where I need to rush back and do something stupid. I'm just following the doctor's orders and whenever they feel it's ready to go and strong enough, we'll be out there and riding. It definitely feels like it's a long time away right now.
Like you said, it's hard to watch the outdoors right now, but you have the perspective of being a top rider getting to sit back and watch things unfold, what are your thoughts on the season so far?
Going back to what you said with it being hard to watch, in years past when I've been hurt - like that whole 2015 and beginning of 2016 season - I didn't really watch because it made me so bitter. I didn't want to see these guys, I didn't want to see it. It kind of disconnected me from the sport and mentally it set me back a little bit. I told myself that this time, no matter how hard it is, I need to watch and learn and stay connected to what everybody is doing and how they're progressing. It's been really changing my mindset. It's crazy when you watch the race how different you feel about it. Every time I watch I'm really trying to get better and watch what these guys do. Of course, I'm a fan of the sport too and more-so a fan of the 450 class because it's difficult to watch the 250 class. I enjoy watching the 450 class and the 250 class I watch for my benefit, not because I want to. I've enjoyed seeing all of that go down. I think with the two top guys coming in being Osborne and J-Mart who are both veterans and have both been around a long time, they know what they're doing. I think right now though if Martin wants to win this championship he's going to have to do something quickly because right now Osborne has the advantage mentally. Jeremy is a fantastic rider and so is Zach. Plus, there are other guys in there too. Plessinger is riding great and my teammates, Forkner and Savatgy, they're really good too. It's one of those deals where if someone is going to take it from Osborne, they're going to have to be aggressive and they're going to have to snatch it out of his hands.
Looking at next year, your plan is to race another year on the 250 and then move up to the 450 if all things go well. Are you excited for that step up to the 450? Is there any anxiousness to take that next step?
For me, I have so much unfinished business on 250s that it'd be stupid of me to look to the 450. I have ridden a 450 a decent amount this past year and I feel great on them. I'm confident that it's going to work out well for me when I move up, but with that being said, my focus is on being the best I can be on a 250 and I definitely haven't gotten there yet and put it all together. First and foremost, that's what I need to focus on. I'm focused on the present day and I'm not searching too far into the future about what's going to happen on the 450 or anything like that. I'm just looking to be the best that I can be on the 250 and I think that in turn will help me make the transition a lot easier.
During this time that you're recovering from the surgery, what's the plan?
I'm already back in the gym doing upper body and core stuff, so that part is nice. Of course, I'm doing physical therapy and that sort of stuff. I'm staying busy for sure and I'll go to some races this year for sure. I might even do a little commentating. I think as far as the gym and stuff goes, my legs have always been the strongest part of my body and the strength seems to come back pretty fast in those, so I'm excited that I'm able to hone some weaknesses in my upper body while my leg heals. Obviously, I can't do much with the lower body. For me, it's a good spot to be in as far as getting hurt because I can focus on some other stuff, but I think in general, I'll be living each day the best I can for what it is and try to improve in every area.