Sara Brams-Miller is hoping the World Maccabiah Games will not only be her first step into international competition, but will also lead into professional cycling one day.
She will be the only Philadelphia-area cyclist riding in open cycling at next month's games. Several other local riders will be competing in masters cycling.
The 25-year-old native of Bethlehem, Pa., turned to cycling about two years ago while recuperating from mononucleosis after moving to Philadelphia. A longtime rower, she hopped on a bike "planning to ride it and get back in shape" while recovering, she said. "Instead, I wound up being a lot happier on my bike than I was in the water, at that point."
Although she's only visited Israel once -- on a Birthright trip in 2008 -- the Jewish state feels a lot like home, thanks to a number of family members who live there. She has cousins in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv who will be cheering her on during her races, she said.
Brams-Miller's late grandfather was a Holocaust survivor who later moved to Israel. While she's eager to have so many relatives in the stands, she said that competing in her grandfather's adopted homeland is also an especially meaningful experience.
"I know he'd be very proud of me -- this is kind of for him," she said.
Upon returning from the games, she'll begin working toward a master's degree in community development at Lehigh University, but "my entire goal is to compete internationally," said Brams-Miller, adding that she'd "love to be picked up by a pro team."