9-year-old goes distance to get better on her bike

Austin McCurr from Grand Junction gets big air during his race in the BMX Race at the Mesa County Fairgrounds BMX Track.

Jessica Grove isn’t about to let her dad one-up her.

Her father races trucks. At 9 years old, Jessica is a little young to be racing motorized vehicles, but she’s found her racing niche elsewhere.

The Grand Junction resident was one of approximately 200 racers competing Sunday in the Grand Valley BMX race at Mesa County Fairgrounds.

In the middle of the summer last year, a neighbor told Jessica she should check out the local BMX races.

“Me and my brother came out here,” she said.

Then they borrowed a bike from another neighbor and tried out the track for themselves.

They liked it. Now Jessica and her brother, 7-year-old Samuel, are regulars.

Grand Valley BMX holds races every Thursday and Sunday at the track. This week’s race was special; it was a qualifying race for the BMX state championships, which will be held during Labor Day weekend in Grand Junction.

That’s a feather in the cap of the local BMX community, considering the track has only been open for four years.

As for Jessica, BMX racing has become her full-time summer activity.

“I’ll do other races around (the region),” she said of planned trips to tracks in Montrose, eastern Utah and even Tulsa, Okla. She’s already done so many races this summer she’s lost count.

“I just like the competition and giving it all I’ve got,” she said.

Although this is only her first full season of racing, she’s picked it up quickly. She’s in second place in the state point standings in the 9-year-old age division for the 20-inch racing class.

She spends the week practicing on her bike.

“I do sprints and I ride around the neighborhood,” she said.

There’s always something on which to improve.

“You’re never perfect,” she said. “You always have something to work on. If you miss something (during a race), you can always go back and (work) on it again.”

Her love of the sport is obvious. She wears a necklace that spells the word ‘Forever.’

“What it stands for when I’m here is Forever BMX,” she said.

That may just be the case.

“I want to grow up to be a professional,” she said, possibly competing in the X-Games or even the Olympics. On the short-term horizon, there’s a race next week she’ll compete at.

“I don’t know where,” she said, but she’ll find a track somewhere.

As for the Grand Valley BMX season, Nick Adams of Grand Valley BMX said it’s shaping up to be an outstanding year for the track.

“Rider numbers are up,” he said.

In addition to hosting the state championships, the local track is also the site of this year’s Mile High Nationals in July.

“To get a national (event) in that time (with the track having been open just four years) is really good,” Adams said.


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