According to the Butterfly Effect, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a hurricane halfway around the world. I don’t really know about that, but I think that the principle really boils down to this – one small change in a moment in time can lead to dramatic changes in the future. Don’t believe me? Well then perhaps you should rent the Ashton Kutcher movie of the same name and then call me to discuss. Seriously though, a chance encounter on January 25, 2014 would end having the Butterfly Effect on my life.
My wife is a pharmacist, and she went to pharmacy school at MCV. Several of her pharmacy school friends live in the Richmond area, and they try to get together every once in awhile to reminisce, and perhaps to get some use out of their mortars and pestles. In January 2014, their meeting place was the home of Chris and Mindy Busher in Goochland. I remember Mindy from when Leigh Anne was in school, and we had been to the Busher house once before. It was the January 25, 2014 visit, however, that would be eventful.
That evening Chris (who simply goes by “Busher”) was drinking a foul-smelling green concoction that smelled like human waste. I was obviously interested (and concerned) as to why he would voluntarily ingest such a foul substance, and his response of, “I’m training for an Ironman” took me by surprise. He took down the giant vat of green liquid like a champ, and we ended up discussing his triathlon training in great detail for most of the evening.
I’m not really sure why I was so fascinated with Busher’s triathlon commentary, whereas I had never swam more than 50 meters of freestyle in my life without hanging onto the pool wall and gasping for air. I was on the Old Church Swim Team when I was about 5-7 years old, but I never really learned to swim freestyle. I could swim breast stroke and tread water for an hour or more if need be, but I couldn’t swim more than one length of the pool using freestyle without feeling like I was about to drown.
In addition, the second leg of a triathlon involves bike riding, and conspicuously absent from my life was a bike. Well, to be honest, there was a $129.00 “comfort” bike from Dicks Sporting Goods hanging upside down in my garage (just beneath the steer skull), which I had purchased for Leigh Anne back in 2006. That bike probably only had 20 miles on it, but it was a woman’s bike, and certainly not designed for triathlon. As luck would have it, however, Busher had a brand new road bike that was too big for him…if I wanted it.
The bike in question was a 2011 Trek Alpha 2.1, which retailed for $1,320. Apparently, some pour soul went to Agee’s Bicycles looking for a “beach cruiser” and walked out with a $1,300 road bike. After riding it once and finding it unsuitable for beach cruising, it was sold to Busher for about $650, who also rode it once, but found it to be too big for him. Thus, it was available to me for $650 if I wanted it. In actuality, that last sentence should read, “Thus, it was available to me for $650 if my wife would allow me to purchase it.”
The night of January 25, 2014 ended no differently for me than pretty much every shopping experience I’ve ever had at a mall clothing store – me saying, “Let me think about it and maybe I’ll come back.” My interest was peaked, but I needed to come up with a sales pitch for the wife. Those sales pitches typically involve me explaining to Leigh Anne about how the initial outlay of money will actually save us money in the long term, and how the item can be my birthday/father’s day/Christmas presents all in one without her having to shop. What a deal, right? Quite frankly, I don’t recall the exact details of my bike/triathlon sales pitch, but it must have been a good one, because I eventually obtained permission to buy Busher’s bike.
Thus, on February 22, 2014 I returned to the Busher abode to buy my new bike. I hobbled in, injured from my 15k trail race earlier that day in Pocahontas State Park, and watched as Busher attached the Trek to his trainer so that I could be “fitted” to the bike. As it would ultimately turn out, I am a bit too big for the Trek, but I did not know that at the time. Even if I had known, I couldn’t pass up a brand new bike for roughly 50% of the cost. Eventually, the bike would come to be called “Blue,” and Blue would serve me well, even if he was a tad too small for me.
After a brief bike maintenance 101 session from Busher, I barely managed to squeeze Blue into the back of my Mazda, which is not designed for transporting bikes (on the inside). Then Blue and I were off to hit up trifind.com to sign up for my first triathlon. I had no idea how I was going to learn to swim, and I really didn’t know if I would even enjoy riding a road bike. Little did I know, however, that my experience in my first triathlon would set me on the path towards Ironman, and away from obstacle course racing.
Again, all of that was thanks to a chance encounter with Busher in January 2014, and in hindsight, perhaps there was more of a Busher Effect than a Butterfly Effect…
Footnote: The picture above shows Busher and I just prior to the start of the I Love the Tavern Triathlon in June 2014 at Robious Landing. I look melancholy because Busher was about to beat me by four and a half minutes.