Erica Greif, 24, of Reno, Nevada, was killed in a car crash on Tuesday while driving to the Redlands Bicycle Classic race, which began Wednesday in Highland, California.

Greif was an elite racer for the ZOCA-Halo Sports team and was previously a recipient of USA Cycling’s Edmund R. Burke Grant, which is given to promising junior and U-23 racers. She was recently engaged to Nick Schaffner, a category 1 racer for the Herbalife team.

The crash occurred while she was driving late at night from Reno to the race, after taking an exam at the University of Nevada in Reno earlier that day.

When her teammate, and home-stay roommate, Kathryn Bertine woke up the next morning, she discovered that Greif hadn’t arrived overnight, as planned.

“It’s shattering,” said Bertine. “Even if you don’t know Erica personally, you’re one degree away from someone who knows her or someone who knows her family It’s a perspective check.

“She was so passionate about the sport. I think every women in our peloton that’s here at Redlands understands and knows personally what it takes to love a sport so much that she planned to take an exam, get in a car, drive through the night, and race at 8:45. That says so much about Erica’s character and the sport that we love.”

Her team director, Martin Santos, learned the news just before the start of the women’s race this morning at Redlands, but he was in the feedzone and unable to speak with his team. Afterward, he told the team of the loss.

“She just got an infectious smile … a good kid. She was so excited to be at this race,” Santos said.

“We do this because we want to do this. It’s just not about winning.

“We’re racing for her,” he said of the rider they’d nicknamed the ‘Reno Rocket.’ “I’m sure she wouldn’t want us to stop.”