Recent MSHS grad trains with Elite National cyclists

Reggie Stiteler
Mount Shasta’s Jerika Hutchinson is currently training with the Elite U.S. National Women’s Cycling Team in Lucca, Italy in preparing for a UCI race in the Czech Republic and the Junior Worlds in South Africa.

In Lucca, Italy last week, the Elite U.S. Women’s National Cycling Team awaited the arrival of two junior cyclists. Seventeen-year-old Jerika Hutchinson of Mount Shasta was ecstatic to be one of them.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Hutchinson said of the opportunity. “The biggest thing you can do is be mentally prepared and throw yourself into it.”

Hutchinson began training last week with the Elite U.S. Women’s National Team, which  will mentor her and fellow junior cyclist Sinead Miller of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Then Hutchinson, as part of the Elite National Team, will race in the Tour de Feminin in Krasna Lipa in the Czech Republic on July 10-13 before travelling to Cape Town, South Africa as part of the Junior World Team for the Junior World Championships on July 17-20.

The 17-year old cyclist and 2008 graduate of Mount Shasta High School qualified for the Junior World Championships last August when she took third place at the UCI Junior Road and Track Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She completed the 13.9-kilometer time trial in 21 minutes, 4.61 seconds.

“The time trial is my specialty,” Hutchinson said. “That’s what I’ve been working for all year.”

The Europe racing opportunity arose later for Hutchinson when the Elite National Team approached her with the idea of gaining a different type of experience after her promising results in Junior Worlds.

As part of the Elite National Team, Hutchinson’s role will slightly change on the course.

“I plan on learning new race tactics,” she said. “How to stay up in an aggressive pack and how to work with women as teammates.”

“The more narrow the roads [a prominent feature in European bike races], the more you have to fight for a better position,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being more aggressive.”

The five stage event in the Czech Republic includes two 112K road races, a time trial stage of 20K followed by a 73K road race and a final 100K road race all in a span of four days.

A time trial race is mainly the cyclist versus the clock. In road races, cyclists must work to find their role within the team and that’s where Hutchinson is looking to gain the most experience overseas.

“My goal in the Czech race is just to do well, to finish with the pack,” Hutchinson said a day prior to hopping on her first flight to Europe.

At Cape Town later this month, Hutchinson will compete in both a time trial and a road race.

“My goal in the Junior Worlds (time trial) is to win it. For the road race I’d like to finish in the top five.”

Hutchinson has been cycling competitively for four years. She trains about 15 hours a week on her bike in Mount Shasta, while during the winter training in Redding.

In the U.S. she rides with Team TIBCO, a professional women’s team of 7 or 8 riders, and competes mainly around the San Francisco Bay Area.

This fall she plans to continue her education at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.

“I plan to get my general education out of the way, then focus on Economics,” Hutchinson said. “I plan to go on to business school to get my MBA in the long run.”

Hutchinson has received much support locally with her cycling endeavors.

“The community has been really helpful,” Hutchinson said. “ I would like to say a special thanks to Doug Carter, Cindy Titzer and Paul Schwartz.”

Asked if she would have a chance to do any sightseeing on her first trip overseas, Hutchinson said, “When I go over there, my focus will be on riding.”