Ride of her life: Cycling a way for Fruita grad Hotimsky to stay active

Netana Hotimsky has been pushing herself hard the past few years.

With ski racing, cycling and school, there’s been little time for the 2006 Fruita Monument High School graduate to catch her breath.

After graduating last month from the University of Vermont Hotimsky plans to take a year off before pursing medical school. That doesn’t mean she’s going to sit around and rest on her accomplishments; Hotimsky leads too active a lifestyle for that.

In addition to helping coach the Powderhorn Racing Club this winter, she’ll spend some time doing a little cross-training. She plans on running the Rim Rock Marathon this fall.

The cross-training is all geared toward helping her improve in her favorite sport.

Hotimsky is a competitive cyclist. As her college career proved, she’s one of the better female cyclists around.

Competing for the University of Vermont club team at the National Collegiate Cycling Association Championships last month, she finished eighth in the criterium.

Skiing was her first love, which she developed into a successful run with the Powderhorn Racing Club. By age 14, she knew she needed to add something to augment her training.

“I wanted to find a way to cross-train,” she said.

Cycling seemed like a natural offseason transition.

She turned to the Mesa State Cycling Club. Although she had just started high school, they were eager to adopt her.

Despite being the youngest in the group, she fit in because of her dedication to the sport.

“On a social level, she was very mature for her age,” said Nate Keck, who at the time was a Mesa State team member and is now its coach.

“Netana always had a passion for the sport,” Keck said.

Because cycling is a club sport and not an interscholastic sport, she was able to race with the Mavs while she was still at Fruita Monument. She fast-tracked her education to begin taking classes at Mesa State while still high school-aged.

“She is a very committed individual,” Keck said.

But with that commitment also came some perspective.

“In high school it was all about ski racing,” she said. “I learned then you’ve got to have balance.”

After graduating from Fruita Monument, she attended Mesa State for two years, continuing her connection with the cycling club.

Academically she was seeking a school with a strong biochemistry department and Mesa State wasn’t offering the programs she needed.

Having grown up here, there was a desire to try something new.

“I wanted to try something different. I wanted to get away from here,” she said.

Her desire for a strong science department drew her to Vermont.

There was a bonus. The school also had a strong cycling program.

Upon her arrival in Burlington, Vt., in the fall of 2007, she quickly learned that the cycling program was oriented more toward the male racers. She and another transfer were the first women to join the club.

“Mesa State has a better infrastructure for cycling,” she said.

The Mavericks’ club team had a coach, something the Catamounts didn’t.

Being a biochemistry major and a pharmacology minor, studies took up more and more of her attention.

“Finding the time (to train and race) was frustrating,” she said.

Though proud of her accomplishments in cycling, Keck was most pleased to see Hotimsky succeed in the classroom.

“The best part is to see her achiever her goals in academics,” Keck said.

She was only able to race in a few of the 10 races scheduled in the spring, but she helped Vermont qualify for the collegiate championships in Fort Collins last month.

Of the three types of bicycle racing, criteriums seem to fit her skills the best.

“They’re short,” she said. “Women’s races usually don’t last more than an hour.”

They also cater to her strong suit, sprinting.

“Cornering is the key,” she said of learning how to gain an advantage while taking the turns on the loop course.

With each race she earns points toward her USA Cycling ranking. Hotimsky found out last week she had earned enough points to be rated as a women’s Category 2 racer, two steps away from achieving professional status.

She’s hoping to hook up with a strong team for the next season, but she’ll continue to train in the Grand Valley and hopes to find a job in the health sciences field before applying to medical schools.

Ten or 20 years down the road, she’s not sure where the sport will take her. She’s not sure she wants to dedicate herself to reaching the professional level.

“I’m not sure I’ll by cycling but I want to compete at something,” she said. “I want to stay (involved) in outdoor sports, endurance sports.”

From what she learned during her high school years, however, she’s convinced of one thing.

With work, a possible family and her recreational endeavors, she’ll have balance.

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