A Heart in Two Worlds

The Butterfields, Tyler and Nikki, own and live on a hobby farm as Tyler calls it, which consists of all the time and expense but none of the income of a working farm. This is the lifestyle he and his wife Nikki have chosen for themselves and their three children: Savana, Walker and Grace (7, 4 and 1 respectively).

Tyler debuted as a professional triathlete 2002. He was the youngest male Olympian in triathlon in 2004 – he represented Bermuda twice in the Olympics – and now at 35 years old he’s still flogging it, with an intermezzo a decade ago as a professional cyclist for Slipstream, where he was a high placer in the Commonwealth Games Road Race. Tyler sprung from a talented lot, and the Butterfields tend not to be nailed to one sport.

It’s safe to assume Tyler is in the second half, if not the final fifth, of his professional triathlon career. There are signs. After having signed a lifetime contract with Cervelo fewer than 4 years ago, it was revealed today that the association has been dissolved. He is sanguine: "They where a great sponsor for many years."

But you never know. He’s 35, and as Ironman athletes go he’s probably got 5 more years until his teeth fall out. Plus, multisport is taking a different turn. With Xtreme Tri, Swim-Run, and perhaps triathlons aboard a gravel bike who knows what's ahead for Tyler - time enough for 2 or 3 more lifetime contracts? But back to the farm.

The Butterfields live in Longmont, a suburb of Boulder, on acreage as you can see. Walker is the boy, and "is a real mix,” according to his dad. Walker prefers, "No shoes Aussie style,” but he takes to being a rural American, though he "loves the sand from Bermuda, even if a horse arena is the only sand he can get in a Colorado winter.”

Tyler seems to have made his irrevocable lifestyle decision. Calypso is out; John Denver is in. But he can’t get Bermuda out of his system and he isn’t trying to. He sent me a photo of his kids fishing from a dock in Bermuda while he was out in the bay, swimming. He included a video of the island taken through the porthole window of the plane as they were heading home to Colorado, as in, there was a little tug on the heart as the plane whisked them away.

"I miss the beaches and ocean, but it is the freedom those things create that is so nice. I loved living on the water and having access to a boat growing up. Bermuda is a little hidden paradise in the Atlantic Ocean.

"The farm is my way of trying to let my kids have the freedom and open space I grew up with in Bermuda on the water on the boats or driving to the beaches and hanging out.“

“Everyone who lives in Bermuda quickly bonds. It's an amazing place.” But leaving, “is what was required in order to pursue a life as a pro triathlete.” Bermuda is only 21 square miles, so, native born Bermudians are forced to move off the island to seek opportunity, in higher education or, in Tyler’s case, athletics. But don’t ask him whether he prefers swimming in a mountain lake or the bays of Bermuda.

"I love the Ocean, there is always so much to see, fish, ray, coral and so on even a fair few ship wrecks in Bermuda.” I know just a little bit what he means.

"I always said if I couldn’t live near the ocean, I want to be near the Mountains," Tyler explained. "The farm is my way of trying to let my kids have the freedom and open space I grew up with in Bermuda on the water.”

There are 7 Goats: Lavender, Mabel, Pippa, Brittany, Harriet, Chocolate and James; 10 Chickens, 2 Guinea Fowl, and a Peacock. Sadie, Jasmine and her new daughter April live on the farm as well. They are the llamas. Buster, was the Butterfields’, "first horse that we had before we bought the farm.” Risky is an an ex-ranch horse the Butterfields bought for their daughter. Then, "our rescue horses: Jessie, who is blind; Spice: a quarter pony; and Willy: a miniature horse.”

Tyler sent photos of him, feeding the animals, still in his cycling garb and I had to laugh because my wife and I live with 4 horses and 4 dogs and it’s typical to roll in from a bike ride or a run, heading directly into some animal chore, keeping clear of a 1300-pound horse's hooves (HOKAs are scant protection).

Speaking of dogs, I never quite got to the bottom of the Butterfield dog situation, except that there’s a watchdog because he barks, along with the other dogs who don’t bark, which is why they got the watchdog.