It may have happened to you, if you have folks around with a similar name. A namesake, if you will. So you’re on the school bus, pre-teen kids already claiming their pegs on the local social hierarchy; there are the cool kids, the cool-ish kids, the hang abouts, and then you. You (or me, in this case) being categorically non-cool. Fine. And the kids joke and cajole and go to other kids’ parties, which sometimes you did, sometimes you didn’t. That’s not necessarily what bothers you. Rather, the really bothersome part is that one of the popular kids has your name, or you have his name. Then someone calls out your name, and you were not in the conversation, or not in the latest social event, so you don’t really know what they’re talking about, but you answer anyway, just to be slapped down: “No, not you. The other Elétrico”. It’s sucky and disappointing, especially if the allegedly “cool kid” is actually a dork whose father gave him a set of heavy binoculars for his birthday. Could be worse, though; some people have the dubious glory of having a very similar looking, if not twin, sibling and the world will spend your existence attempting to tell the differences between the two of you. The chances here are high that you’d be deemed “the other” brother (or sister). Yes, it happened to me on both regards, as my brother and I (plus my cousin) look a little bit too much like each other.
Imagine you made it in the pro category. Very few of you are already there, it’s not that great sometimes, but you’re a pro and that’s that. Now imagine that your brother is the one people define as awesome. He smokes opponents in the sprints, time trials, uphill, is a great descender or a combination of all of them. Miguel Indurain has a brother, Prudencio, who I followed way back when both made their living in the pro ranks. Miguel was on his way to winning all sorts of events, and Prudencio followed suit, as in “went with him”, not the winning kind of following suit. A facsimile version of his older brother, at times he’d be deployed as a decoy for fans, photographers or autograph seekers, posing as Miguelón so he could offer his bro a break from the multiple race-day requests. Prudencio wasn’t nearly as prolific a victor as Miguel, his main status being “Miguel’s Brother”. And not only he had to contend with the demands of a passion-filled nation hungry for victories, it might have been burdensome, to say the least, to be compared day in and day out with the other Indurain. And I wonder how other pros handled it, and I wonder about the Simon (see-moan, not sigh-mon) brothers from France, a litter of 4 riders with various levels of abilities. Pascal’s (the oldest brother) claim to fame was as leader of the Peugeot team (and having Phil Anderson as his domestique) at the 1983 Tour, until he crashed while in yellow and relinquished his status as captain. The other 2, sandwiched between Pascal and François, had modest success spanning the years between late 80s and early-mid 90s. The runt, François, book-ended the dynasty by getting his share of wins, plus a stint in yellow during the 2001 Tour. Naturally not all sibling pros enjoy the talent of the main man. Jura Sagan and Cesare Cipollini come to mind, although some can break that trend.
Which brings us to our own local scene. As I toed the line at last Tuesday’s training race, I noticed a familiar face, or familiar faces. Like the McCormack brothers, who did and still do rip the legs off the sockets of most everyone in the New England area (with their kids following suit - as in winning), the Keough clan has proved to be a formidable crew of racers, from top to bottom, encompassing road, bmx and cross disciplines. All the five of them showed up, plus the father, who still races. Of them I became friendly with Jake (United Healthcare), as we’ve met several years ago, when he was a tiny junior with restricted gear ratios, high spin and a searing sprint. His younger brother Luke, also became professional for Mtn Khakis not too long ago. Seems this set of kids keep feeding the pro ranks every 2 years or so, every single one of them distinctive, skilled and honed through seasons of hard work, passion and racing. I am sure they get comments, comparisons and confused looks from fellow racers as they do resemble each other. Will they all be successful? Probably, maybe, who knows. But every each one of them will have their own set of glories and renown, every one of them a hallmark of New England bicycle racing.
And now we’re straight back to Prudencio and me, even though this isn’t really about me here. Yes, Miguelón was the reference, and forever they’ll be juxtaposed as “no, not him, his brother”. To which I’d like to add: yes, you, Prudencio. He’s the younger Indurain, he bore the brunt, carried it fluidly, while looking good in the process. The one and only Prudencio, no one else could do what he did.
And he’s unique like that, all by himself. As for the other Elétrico, well, the last I heard he’s just as bald, but not nearly as fit and handsome as this guy.