Easter brothers race on Easter Sunday
Cullen Easter crashed on the final turn of the downtown criterium.
Soon, a crowd of friends, teammates, supporters and opponents gathered around the medical tent to check on the Colorado Mesa University cycling team’s popular co-captain.
He smiled, letting everyone know he was OK.
One cyclist came over after he finished fifth in Saturday’s criterium in the Maverick Classic.
He had the same eyes, the same smile, but a different jersey. He wore the colors of Fort Lewis College. The two chatted and smiled.
The relief on Griffin Easter’s face was clear when he saw that his brother was OK.
Griffin and Cullen Easter have been riding together since their dad brought bikes home for everyone when they were youngsters in a Los Angeles suburb. The oldest Easter brother, Stratton, rides and races for the University of Colorado, but he wasn’t at the Maverick Classic.
On Sunday, the Easter brothers raced on Easter Sunday.
Riding in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference with Colorado colleges, the Easter brothers often get to race against each other. But a few weeks ago, there was a special race.
The Easter brothers formed a two-rider, two-brother breakaway. They would not get caught.
Griffin decided to take off, and when he turned around, he saw that familiar face. Their eyes met, and they smiled.
“He took off and turned around and looked at me and said, ‘Let’s do this!’ ” Cullen said, smiling as he recalled that moment.
Then, they did it. The Easter brothers started dancing on the pedals and left the peloton in the proverbial dust.
As they worked together as opponents, each pulling shifts at the front to take the wind and do the hard work, they were a fluid, organized cycling machine. Two cyclists working as one, but only one would win.
It’s the nature of the breakaway. Sometimes one will get stuck doing the bulk of the work while the other hangs behind to conserve energy for the sprint finish. But the Easter brothers weren’t concerned with the finish line. They were just out for a ride, just like they’d done for more than a decade.
“We split it,” Cullen said about the workload. “Maybe he did a little bit more work.”
The brothers laughed. It was only fair to let the younger brother, 22-year-old Griffin, do a little more work.
Cullen, 26, said they made the perfect team even if they were wearing different jerseys.
“Usually in a breakaway, the working together is bad,” he said. “But since we’re brothers, there was nothing to worry about.”
With no worry, no animosity, no selfishness, the Easter brothers ripped it all the way to the finish line. But, of course, there could only be one winner.
The brothers sprinted for the finish line, their competitive spirit discarding the brotherly bond for the final 100 yards.
Then, Griffin surged ahead and won by a matter of feet.
Younger brother first, older brother second, the Easter brothers living a dream.
“It was just the best time, we’d been planning that for years,” Griffin said.
Cullen said finishing second didn’t bother him one bit.
“Not at all. If I could lose to anyone, it would be to him. It was the coolest race ever,” he said.
Their smiles never disappear when they talk about the race or about riding together.
Both have made the top of the podium in their careers, but Cullen says Griffin has been there the most.
But, who’s better?
“He is,” Cullen said without a click of hesitation.
The brothers laugh again.
“I don’t know, it depends,” Griffin said, adeptly deflecting the praise from his brother
The brothers came to Colorado colleges for different reasons. Cullen chose CMU for its nursing program. Griffin wanted to ski and ride bikes because he was getting into racing, so he went to Durango’s Fort Lewis.
Cullen and Griffin both use the word “awesome” to describe that amazing day when they went on a two-brother breakaway.
Same eyes, same smile, same vocabulary, different jerseys.
The Easter brothers racing on Easter. But for them, every day they get to ride together is a holiday.
“Awesome.” They agree and flash that same smile.