American Grace Alexander raced to an impressive second place in the junior women's 17-18 cross country national championship in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Friday afternoon. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago, the 17-year-old crashed so hard that she broke her jaw in three places as well as her arm.
"I'm pretty much healed and cleared to do anything I want now," she said to Cyclingnews after her silver medal winning ride. That much was evident by how well she has been racing. Her performance at mountain bike nationals comes just a few weeks after she won the time trial and got fourth in the road race at junior road nationals in Augusta, Georgia.
She described what happened to her in the crash. "I was in a cycling accident while I was in a criterium with some guys, including Cat. 4 men and masters A men," she said. "There was a guy on the front who was trying to get people off his wheel and he took a wide line and everyone followed him. I was on the outside and got inadvertently pushed into a fence. I don't remember all of it, but I went over my handlebars."
Following her accident, she spent five days off her bike and then got back on a trainer. "Then I started riding and training for road nationals. I got fit for that, and then I refocused for mountain bike nationals."
Alexander hails from Boise, Idaho, which made her the home crowd favorite on Friday. She rides and races with the Boise Young Rider Development Squad (BYRDS). She has one more year to race as a junior.