Finalize(): Knowing Where You Are

ou know what happens when an expensive lightweight bicycle attached firmly to the top of a two-ton vehicle moving at approximately five miles per hour hits an immovable house? Figure 1 shows the results of transforming an expensive bike into a figurative ball of aluminum foil.

It all began in a hot tub at some conference or another. The scene included four rather out-of-shape middle-aged developer/speakers, and one thirty-something-in-training-for-a-marathon interloper in far better shape than the rest of us?it wasn’t a particularly pretty sight. As often seems to happen at these get-togethers among old friends, we headed down the path of, “What do you want to make sure you do before you go?” (In this case, “before you go” referred to the “final” go.) I usually keep my opinions to myself at these times, but I couldn’t help but mention my goal of riding a bicycle across the continental US before the final conference session, metaphorically speaking.

The excitable young one (I’ll call him “Steve Forte,” just to keep the identities anonymous), suggested that to get in training for the long ride, we should ride from Los Angeles to San Diego after Microsoft’s PDC conference in November. In a crazed moment, we all agreed. At that point, I didn’t even own a bicycle.

Flash forward a month, and I’ve purchased a very expensive touring bike (two of them, to be exact?there are two cyclists here at home) and we’ve gone out for a ride around Pasadena. It’s a lovely summer day, we’ve had a great ride, and have firmly, nay, semi-permanently attached the bicycles to the also expensive bike rack on the roof of the car in preparation for the trip home. Upon arrival at the family manse, we’re talking and joking around as we do what we always do?open the garage door with the remote opener and pull into the garage. At this point, however, we are rudely surprised with a grinding, crumpling noise as we drive in. It takes a second for the horrible truth to sink in, and as we climb out of the car, I was living in some fantasy that we’d find the bikes intact somehow. I’m not sure how this could be physically possible, but that’s what I dreamed. Figure 1, as you’ve seen, shows the wreckage that we found, spread out for your spectation. (No, I didn’t make up that word. I heard it one day as the radio traffic announcer described all the folks slowing down to watch the scene of a wreck, as in, “The freeway traffic has slowed to a crawl due to the large amount of spectation.” No kidding. But back to the story…)

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