During high school in Michigan, Laura Charameda of Santa Rosa enjoyed training with the track team and running with her family. When she went to the University of Oregon, she brought only a bicycle for transportation.

Her life took a sharp turn one weekend, when she came across a bunch of bicyclists riding in the road in Eugene, Oregon.

“It was a bike race, and I didn’t even know it was a sport,” said Charameda, now 52, who would go on to become one of the most successful women pro cyclists in America. “I raced two weeks later, and I thought it was the best thing ever.”

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