Grace Ueng doesn't remember the accident. In September 2005, just before her 40th birthday, she was racing down Sonoma Mountain in Sonoma County, California.
A motorcyclist found her lying unconscious; Ueng had broken her neck and suffered a brain injury that temporarily robbed her of short-term memory. The cause of the accident was never determined, but Ueng, an avid athlete who had competed in triathlons, speculates that she hit a rough patch of road and lost control. After months of physical and cognitive therapy, Ueng was back to running, swimming, and working with clients at her consulting firm, Savvy Marketing Group, in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Getting back on the bike was harder. Last March, she participated in her first outdoor cycling event since the accident, riding with her former triathlon coach, Paul Nowicki, also pictured here. "The bike represents a comeback to me," she says. "The ripple effect of my accident has been a revived passion for life."
A Gary Fisher mountain bike and a Trek 5200. Until this year, Ueng was reluctant to get back on the Trek, a lightweight road bike. "It has skinny tires and a carbon frame," Ueng says. "The mountain bike was not as scary."
"I read Lance Armstrong's autobiography, It's Not About the Bike. Getting back in the saddle is also a metaphor for me. My passion was to recover as quickly as possible, so I could be a good mom, be with my clients, be with my friends."
Maintaining her sense of humor: "I literally went downhill at age 40," Ueng jokes.