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Appfire's "Sprint To Atlassian Summit" 2011

In Appfire's latest "Dukes of Hazzard" meets "Cannonball Run" adventure, Randall Ward and Mick Flanigan provide a front-row seat on their adrenaline-fueled "Sprint to Atlassian Summit". Stay tuned here at and on Twitter with the hashtag #SprintToSummit for all Appfire's exciting updates from the road. See you at Summit!

It's official! This Thursday, I'll be heading from Boston, Massachusetts out to Portland, Oregon to meet up with Appfire's Mick Flanigan. Instead of flying to Atlassian Summit, this year the two of us will be driving the full 1,081 miles from Portland to San Francisco.

According to Google, the route we've selected should take about 23 hours of total drive time. We'll be departing from Oregon this Friday morning (June 3rd), and if everything goes according to plan, after a few creative pit-stops we should arrive in San Francisco sometime on Sunday. Of course, we'll be stopping plenty of times to refuel our car and ourselves, to take some excellent pictures, to conduct some interviews with a few other Atlassian partners presenting at Summit, and to (maybe) get a little sleep.

How can we cram all of this into less than 48 short hours you ask? Easy! We planned ahead! It will be equal parts speed and agility, ...and we used Atlassian's GreenHopper as our Agile Planning Tool. We mapped-out our route carefully in advance and then broke it into small, estimate-able chunks before formally committing to our plan. We spiked ahead of ourselves, walking the route virtually with mapping/plotting tools. Then about a month ago, 2 test cars made the journey ahead of us to help set the direction and way points for our course. We also have an amazing team of engineers here at Appfire who are ready and willing to help on a moment's notice during our journey if the need arises. At this moment, we are as prepared as we could possibly be for the 2-day iteration that lies ahead of us. Of course, speed is a big part of it ...and fortunately for us, we have a very fast car. (More on that soon!)

Keeping true to the Agile theme, we've broken our "Sprint To Summit" into the following 7 stories:

Story-1: Priorities

(Business Value: Critical / Story Points: 1)

Our first story takes us a whopping 9 miles from Mick's garage in Beaverton OR - straight to the nearest coffee shop. (If they were sponsoring, we'd happily tell you all about the expensive coffee we'll be drinking there.) While low in complexity, this story is one of the most important to Mick and I as it's vital that we both start off with the correct levels of food and caffeine in our systems!

Story-2: Twisted Sisters

(Business Value: Major / Story Points: 8)

After departing said coffee shop, we'll be heading straight for Oregon's majestic Sisters Volcano region. Along our ride, we'll be visiting a total of seven 7,000+ foot volcanoes:

On our way out of Story-2, we'll then pass the Belknap Crater and Lava Flows, which are a large series of fresh lava flows near the crest of the Cascade Mountains. We'll quickly stop here to admire all the amazing volcanic scenery laid out in front of us.

Story-3: The Bend

(Business Value: Major / Story Points: 5)

Having just visited some of the nations best volcano deposits, Story-3 has some big shoes to fill. Whatever we post for pictures, videos and other artifacts for Story-3 will need to meet or exceed the bar previously raised in Story-2. Fortunately, Story-3 takes us through Bend. Bend Oregon is central Oregon's largest city at around 80,000 people, and it's a hotbed for Extreme Sports!

Loads of rock climbers, Olympians (training in high-altitude for cycling and running), skiers and many more elite athletes call this place home. Bend is also famous/infamous for it's awesome micro breweries. Mick, a native Oregonian, considers Bend one of his favorite spots to visit in Oregon. This may be one spot during our trip where Team Velocity falls fast!

Also in Bend, depending on the cell signal from the road, we'll try to host a quick interview with another Atlassian Partner who will be presenting their products at Summit. Stay tuned!

Story-4: Ancient Volcanic Plains

(Business Value: Minor / Story Points: 13)

We'll leave Bend all fueled and refreshed (thanks in large part to the microbrews) and will be ready to contend with one very big River, one very big Rock and one very interesting destination called Frenchglen. Here in Story-4 we also aim to make up for any lost Velocity due to any fortunate (or unfortunate) circumstances that Bend may have brought our way.

Fort Rock, Hole in the Ground, Crack in the Ground

While the people who named these spots may have lacked a bit of creativity, it certainly does get the point across! These three are all interesting geological features from the historic lava flows during the Columbia basalt flow days, which date back millions of years. This was back when Yellowstone caldera was in eastern Oregon and the lava that flowed out eventually formed most of what is now Oregon and Washington.

Ice Age to Missoula Floods

These oddly placed lakes, some of them alkali, are all from the Missoula Floods back during the end of the last ice age. As the glaciers melted, a huge ice dam formed and trapped a colossal lake behind it in southern Canada. When the dam eventually broke, it released a massive flood that carved out the valleys and canyons in eastern Washington and Oregon and left behind some large lake basins. Fun fact: Some of these lakes are hundreds of miles across but only a few feet deep.

A Destination Called Frenchglen

Frenchglen was founded in the mid-1800's. It's an oasis in the middle of scenic basalt cliffs and towering mountains that was a cattle and sheep trading post in the 1800's and early 1900's. It's now home to historic trading posts and hotels and it's the gateway to the Steens Mountains. Depending on our burndown, we may need to take shelter in Frenchglen.

Story-5: Steering the Steens

(Business Value: Critical / Story Points: 34)

The Steens Mountains are one of the most remote places in the United States. They were formed by what is called a tilt block fault. From the west, driving up the Steens slope initially seems like a nice easy road, barely gaining altitude. However, within the first 30 minutes, you've actually traveled from 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet in elevation and are eventually perched on the edge of a cliff looking down at the Alvord Desert some 6,000 feet below. Since this is high enough to capture the moisture in the air passing over, the Steens has its own unique micro-climate. It's truly an oasis for the raptors, migratory birds, mountain sheep, elk, deer and many other species that populate this protected area. The Steens are also known for some of the most scenic hiking along the crest of glacier-worn ridges with thousand-foot drops on both sides. We'll be sure to capture as much video as we can of our high-speed ascent/decent. For adrenaline junkies like Mick and I, this will be the coup de grâce of the trip!

If we make it to the other side of the Steens, the remaining three stories should be simple. Almost effortless ...almost.

Story-6: Reno Baby!

(Business Value: Major / Story Points: 1)

If it's up to Mick and I, we won't stop for shelter until we complete the next 800+ miles to Reno Nevada. In Reno, we plan to tempt our luck with a few rounds of cards and maybe a roll (or two) of the dice. Our goals also include quickly gorging on free buffets, fueling up the rig, and with any luck, getting some well-needed rest. Oh, and on the unlikely chance that we actually strike it rich on some crazy eights, this will be our last post!

Story-7: A Long Pass

(Business Value: Major / Story Points: 3)

Sprint-7 takes us across the 7,000 foot Donner Pass. We'll be taking Interstate-80 over the Sierra Nevada mountains from Nevada into California. Ideally, depending on 4G availability (snicker), we hope to also have enough time to stop and speak with a few more Atlassian partners who will be presenting their products at Summit. Sprint-7 will then take us right into Sacramento CA, where we'll drop Mick's war-torn car off for some well deserved service.

Story-8: Destination Summit

(Business Value: Critical / Story Points: 3)

From Sacramento, Mick and I will jump aboard the Caltrain and ride right into San Francisco. We need to arrive on or before mid-day Sunday to attend Atlassian's "Partners Day", so anything before that and this Sprint will be considered a huge success!


So that's the plan! For more on Appfire's "Sprint To Atlassian Summit" 2011, stay tuned here at and via Twitter with the hashtag: #SprintToSummit.

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