Alexis Olivera, 15, isn’t old enough to have a driver’s license, but she’s been competing in motorcycle races since she was nine. After years of training, Olivera was ready to take her skills to the national level for the first time by competing with MotoAmerica. Then everything came to a sudden halt when she crashed her bike during the warm up for a big race, and in the process broke both ankles.
“All I know is...I flew up pretty high and then I just hit the ground and went tumbling for a minute. Then I was just there on the ground, screaming,” the teen told Inside Edition Digital.
Olivera was on the race course in Seattle, Washington with her dad when it happened. She was in the hospital for a week following surgery on both legs. Her purple motorcycle was also destroyed.
It’s one of many she’s had over the years. Her first, a pocket bike she was given by her grandpa when she was nine, started her on the path she's on now.
“My dad asked me if I wanted to ride it. I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I don't know why I love it so much. It's just the adrenaline and the speed. It's just, I can't live without it,” Olivera recalled of falling in love with motorcycle riding. She won her first race later that year.
The adrenaline at 125 miles per hour is thrilling.
“When you're under the shield you can't really feel much until you get up over it. It's air coming at you.”
Olivera calls herself “SuperLex” when she’s competing. She wears a purple uniform with the number 26 on the back for identification on the course.
The sport is difficult, she says, and takes a lot of practice on the weekends, because “it’s not as easy as it looks.”
This particular adventure to compete with MotoAmerica began at home in North Port, Florida. She took off with her dad in a rented van with bunk beds. The plan was to travel the country like “gypsies,” as she described it, for a month. She would race, sightsee and hit the road for the next leg of the competition series in New Jersey, followed by Alabama. She'd travel and compete, all while doing her school work from the backseat.
Now, Olivera is home recovering in a wheelchair.
“It's part of racing, and you get used to it after a while,” she said of the accident. She’s had many crashes before, including one time when she broke her collarbone.
But each setback makes her even stronger and more determined, she said. She’s one of the youngest riders in MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup series and the only female in her age division, which includes competitors between the ages of 14 and 25.
“It would be nice if there were some other girls racing out there, so we could talk about the same things,” she said of her competitors. “But it's not so different especially when you're out on the track. Everybody's the same.”
Her role models are Spanish motorcycle racers Maria Herrera and Ana Carrasco. Though she's never met Carrasco, their mentorship from afar means everything.
“I feel bad because Ana Carrasco actually just broke her vertebrates, and she's been healing up too,” Olivera said “She was really nice to send me a message while I was in the hospital, and asked if I was okay.”
For Olivera, not being able to walk for a few months pushes her dreams further away, but not out of the realm of possibility.
“I just look at my situation right now, but I definitely want to be the first girl in MotoAmerica to win a championship. I'm upset because I didn't want to win a race at 18 or 17 because then I'll have some other little girl come up to MotoAmerica and beat me.”
Her goals for now are to heal and then pour her heart back into training to start all over again.