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Do You Know (insert name here)?

The true scientist lives in a world of probability where almost nothing is 100% certain and nothing is impossible. Statisticians (scientists of applied mathematics) enjoy calculating the probability of things: so calculate the probability of this...


First of all, I need to give a little background. Trent Hayden is a triathlon coach in Wilmington, North Carolina. Lori and I used his coaching for several years and he built a very active tri club shortly before we moved to the Four Corners area. Got it? OK, now on to the story.


Last month, Lori and I were driving up to Denver and Ft. Collins for a bit of business and visiting with friends in the area.


Del Norte is not much of a town, but it's where we spent the night to break up the drive and we were the only guests at the motel. That should suggest just how empty Rio Grand County is. We never saw another human guest, employee or manager at the Mellow Moon Motel/Lodge. Our rig took up eight parking spaces, but it didn't matter because there was no one else there except five does and a buck wandering around who didn't mind that our truck and four horse trailer were taking up so much space.


The following day, we had U.S. Highway 285 mostly to ourselves until we got near Buena Vista. I'm not sure what Buena Vista is famous for but it's near the headwaters of the Arkansas River who's name is not pronounced like the state of Arkansas. Think are-CAN-zis, (and think it quietly to yourself to save some odd looks from people around you). But even near Buena Vista we were not crowded for space on the road or in the filling station.


Pulling up to the pump, I noticed the car on the other side of our pump was a Subaru with a kayak on the roof. Very Colorado, right? I'm sure you know what I'm talking about when I say that I was just focusing on swiping my card so I could fill up the truck. Maybe it's an unspoken rule to avoid eye contact with your filling station neighbor, but our neighbor didn't know that rule and I'm glad he didn't. In fact, he read my shirt, "North Carolina Triathlon Series". Well... his brain must have been doing some rewiring because he looked at the long horse trailer behind our truck and said something like, "There's a tough sport."


  • ME: Excuse me?

  • HIM: Rodeo. That's a tough sport.

  • ME: I gave up rodeo years ago.

  • HIM: Oh! Your shirt says triathlon. Sorry. I'm an endurance swimmer moving from Philly to LA.


So we engaged in conversation and being on a somewhat desolate highway, there were no cars waiting for our pumps. We must have been visiting for 15 minutes. At one point he asked where it was in North Carolina that I won the shirt that I was wearing. I said, "Wilmington." He asked, "Do you know Trent Hayden?"


We were 1500 miles from Wilmington. We were in a part of the world that is definitely not known for producing triathletes. And because was wearing a race shirt, I met someone traveling in the opposite direction, on a small U.S. highway who's not even a triathlete that knows a mutual friend. Talk about making a long trip just a bit less long.


Don't even try to calculate the probability of that happening. It's just one of those really cool things that happens when you're out on the road.


Lesson learned: Wear race shirts when traveling.


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