Andy and Joe Krahulik savored the moment.
With locked arms, the brothers rode a celebratory lap around the cinder track of Bill Armstrong Stadium.
The two were jubilant after they finished one-two in the Miss N Outs. The younger brother, Joe, took the crown.
They had dreamed of this moment since they were kids, growing up with Little 500 posters in their room.
All these years later, the two are a part of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon cycling team, and together could be contenders for the Little 500 trophy.
The brothers’ path to SAE is parallel.
After both brothers graduated from their high school swimming team, they needed a competitive outlet.
That became cycling.
They each started out on independent teams — Andy began riding for the Cutters and Joe for the Black Key Bulls.
Andy left the Cutters and joined SAE in the spring of his freshman year.
When Joe came to IU, Andy was a junior and had ridden for SAE in two races.
“I wanted to give him some space on SAE,” Joe said. “It was his team, and he pretty much built the program. It was his territory, and I didn’t want to step into his limelight.”
His freshman year, Joe made it through winter break with the Black Key Bulls, but after an injury, everything changed.
“It was an intensive program,” Joe said. “During winter break, I had time to step back and look at it. Honestly it reminded me a lot of high school swimming. It was monotonous at times.”
At that point, Andy reached out to his younger brother and asked him to join SAE, the program that Andy had helped build back up.
“My strategy for getting him to come to our team was Chocolate Moose ice cream and I didn’t recruit him,” Andy said. “I talked with the younger guys in our chapter and let those guys convince him.”
After a long brotherly talk, Joe joined SAE and the pair became the foundation of their team.
Later that spring, both would ride in the Little 500, helping SAE to a fourth-place finish.
After finishing 19th in last year’s ITTs, Joe was ready and confident going into his first race.
“I realized how quickly it starts to hurt when you are out there by yourself,” Joe said. “I ended doing a lot more work than I should have, and I was pretty dead at the end.”
Andy added he was astounded with his team’s finish last year because, other than him, the team was made up of three rookies.
All four riders from that team have returned: the Krahulik brothers and seniors Jake Hartmeister and Mitchell Sasseman.
To build upon their first Little 500 together, the brothers trained at the Major Taylor Veledrome in Indianapolis last summer.
They had grown up in the shadow of the Veledrome as they watched their father race there when they were kids, but this was their chance to shine on the track.
The pair participated in different races there over the summer.
“Riding there teaches you how to manipulate other riders and manipulate packs,” Andy said. “It just teaches you how to race.”
The brothers didn’t race each other because they were in different categories.
It’s hard to separate this pair of brothers, though.
“I would say we are close,” Joe said. “A lot of people would say we act very similar and look very similar. We’ve meshed together really well.”
The line of demarcation between them has always been who’s faster.
It’s been that way since childhood, when the two became involved in swimming.
“He’s always been faster than me in swimming,” Andy said. “And up until this year, I was faster biking. There’s always been an edge of competitiveness between us.”
Joe’s speed was on full display in this year’s ITTs, as he came away from the rain-soaked night with the second-fastest ITT time ever. He also edged out Andy in Miss N Out by a few inches.
While Joe might have the speed, Andy said he believes the two are better together than they are alone.
“While cycling plays to his strengths of being fast and strong, it also plays to my strength of being smart in the pack,” Andy said. “It’s nice to have those two different perspectives because we can see things from both angles.”
Andy added that this has made the team much better.
The program was restarted in 2011, and they have been steadily improving since then. With the arrival of Andy in the spring of 2013, the SAE program found new energy.
“For the most part, my legacy has already been built,” Andy said. “We have a good group of rookies and underclassmen that will keep the program going on full steam. The defining moment in my career has already passed. That was getting this team to this level.”
With the team returning all four riders from last year and Joe’s impressive Spring Series, the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of this SAE team.
“Last year, we were the dark horses,” Andy said. “This year, that’s going to be different. There’s a lot more focus on us as a team. It’s a new race for us.”
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