Cattlemen and Beef More Involved in 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Since its beginning in 2011, we’ve brought you the good news story of one of the restaurant industry’s top shelf beef burger chains — Smashburger — being a founding and lead sponsor of the American showcase for physical fitness and sports strategy — the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

For 2014, as the Challenge again takes on the steep, high-altitude roads in Colorado’s mountains and plains, another industry sponsor has arrived. American cattlemen themselves have a direct hand in the racing spectacle, as Certified Angus Beef (CAB) joins the sponsor list. CAB is proud of its role as supplier to Smashburger, one of the fastest growing and best examples of the “fast casual” restaurant category. Fast casual provides a higher quality, more individualized eating experience when a diner wants to venture above fast food fare but doesn’t have time or budget for a steakhouse meal.

The race has again drawn over 120 riders and cycling teams from all over the world. From the beginning, the challenge has been for the best cyclists in the world to test themselves against the altitude of the Colorado Rockies. The racers have proven it can be done but it is not a task to be taken lightly. Riders who live and train often at high altitudes in Colorado or Colombia are less intimidated when much of the racing is above 7,000 ft. It is a test of lungs, training and stamina normal humans can only barely comprehend.

In town racing is much closer at times than on the climbs.  This is Aspen in 2013.

In town racing is much closer at times than on the climbs. This is Aspen in 2013.

This year, the race began the first day (Aug. 18) in the Aspen area, traveling to Crested Butte for Stage 2 and spending Stage 3 climbing Monarch Mountain in southern Colorado. Stage 4 will be contained in Colorado Springs. Stage 5 will begin above Colorado Springs in Woodland Park and end in Breckenridge. Stage 6 will be in Vail while the last stage will begin in Boulder and the big finish will be in downtown Denver. If you are in or close to Colorado this week, it is well worth seeing one of the most impressive endurance feats humans have ever devised. Of course, the Colorado scenery makes a spectacular backdrop.

Television coverage is on NBC’s Sports Network (DirecTV 220) during the week and Stage 7, the finish will be on NBC’s broadcast channel. And don’t speed through the commercials. Cattlemen will enjoy seeing the Smashburger commercials, starring a great looking burger. But the broadcasts will mark a first for CAB — a television commercial playing to a national audience for the first time. The spot we saw features restaurateurs and chefs explaining why they use CAB beef.

Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Supreme Court Rules Against President Obama’s NLRB Appointments

The Supreme Court has ruled that President Obama’s disputed “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid.  That means that all the decisions made by that illegally constituted board are null and void.  That includes rules and decisions that greatly eased labor unions’ ability to call for elections and unionize employers.  The board had drastically shortened the time period before elections happen and made it easier to call for elections, curtailing employers’ ability to explain their side of issues.

The Court ruled that Congress was not in recess at the time President Obama claimed they were; therefore, his Constitutional power to make recess appointments could not be exercised.  Experts saw the decision as one rebuke to President Obama’s tendency to assume sweeping executive power when Congress would not provide him with legislation he desired.  More details will be available when the final opinion is released.
Published in: on June 26, 2014 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Court Grants Full Hearing on mCOOL Lawsuit

AMI, NCBA and their co-plaintiffs have been granted an en banc hearing, that is, before the full U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, on their request to block implementation of the latest version of the mCOOL law.

The plaintiffs had failed to persuade a judge to grant a preliminary injunction, then struck out with a three-judge panel.

“However, because of the significance of the First Amendment question at issue in the case, the panel recommended that the matter be reheard en banc and the full court agreed,” AMI said.

The en banc oral arguments will be heard on May 19.

“The central question in the en banc hearing is the legal standard the government must satisfy when it compels commercial disclosures,” AMI said.

This federal complaint is one cog of a multi-prong attempt by the meat industry to stop the full implementation of an mCOOL law made much more expensive, intrusive and, for many packers, prohibitive by May 2013 USDA revisions.  Another prong is the WTO, which is expected to rule sometime later in 2014.  There is always a chance of Congressional action but given the opposition by the Democrats and their leadership, that is unlikely until after the fall elections.

Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Republican Jolly Wins Special Election

In a widely watched contest, Repubican David Jolly has won a special election over Democrat Alex Sink, a moderate female candidate the party thought could win in Pinellas County, Florida.  The election was held to find a replacement for the late long-time Republican Bill Young.  Jolly had been a Republican lobbyist.  Jolly won by roughly a two percent margin, with a Libertarian candidate getting five percent of the vote.  The district is a so-called swing district because though held by a Republican congressman for many years, President Obama won there twice.

The contest was widely seen as a referendum on Obamacare.  Jolly attacked Obamacare outright, while Sink said that she was not in Congress at the time, didn’t vote for it but favored fixing it.

While Republicans are pleased at the victory and feel their strategy of hammering Obamacare’s effect on voters has been vindicated, the Democrats are encouraged the vote was as close as it was.  Both sides spent lots of money ($4.9 million for Jolly vs. $3.7 million for Sink according to The Hill).  Jolly was considered as a “flawed” candidate by some because he had been a lobbyist and an underdog because he was less well known than Sink, considered by the Democrats as a strong candidate.

One of Jolly’s ads hammered Obamacare, characterized by “Canceled health plans, higher premiums, Medicare cuts, people losing their doctors, a disaster for families and seniors.”

While Republicans will be encouraged by the upset victory after polling had indicated Sink would win, it was a special election.

“The thing about special elections is, sometimes they are bellwethers and sometimes they’re not,” Aubrey Jewett said.  Jewett is a political science professor at nearby University of Central Florida (“Republican David Jolly Wins Florida Congressional Race,” Wall Street Journal, 03/11/14).

Published in: on March 11, 2014 at 10:51 pm  Comments (2)  

EPA Finally Bows (Slightly) to Reality on Ethanol

EPA finally did what had been rumored it would do —  lowered the mandate for renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline in 2014.

On Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, EPA proposed a mandate level 16 percent less than that specified in the 2007 law.  The proposal would require between 12.7 and 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol in 2014, a level not only lower than originally required for 2014 but lower than the mandate level for the last two years (“EPA Shrinks Ethanol Mandate for First Time,” Wall Street Journal, 11/15/13).

Of course, this is not because EPA is recognizing the misguided policy aims of the Renewable Fuel Standards or the probable net loss in energy efficiency from producing fuel from corn.  Nor was it a given, since reality didn’t keep the EPA from fining refiners millions of dollars a year for not using cellulosic fuel that wasn’t being produced and couldn’t be blended.  Cold, hard facts do not necessarily faze bureaucrats at the EPA.

But the EPA was finally made to understand that blenders can’t blend ethanol into fuel that is not being produced and sold.  The continuing lousy economy under this administration and Congress, improving fuel economy on cars and trucks and the increased domestic production of oil despite the administration’s efforts to quell it have reduced the demand for gas and diesel.  Meaning there was not enough fuel needed and sold to achieve the mandates on renewable fuels the law had suggested and EPA had demanded.

Interestingly enough for animal agriculture, the news story in the Washington Post quoted Renewable Fuels Assn. President Bob Dineen near the beginning of their story, since it supported the manmade global warming doctrine.

“They’re capitulating to the oil companies,” Dineen said.  “The RFS was about forcing the marketplace change and EPA is giving the oil companies a get out of jail free card (“EPA Proposes Smaller Requirements For Biofuel Use,” 11/15/13).”

Perish the thought that we would allow free markets to govern what is bought and sold.  After all, those “markets” that the liberals regard as so wanton and evil, are really summaries of citizens voting with their dollars for products.  We can’t have that.

But it was 14 paragraphs into an 18-paragraph story that animal agriculture was even heard from, and even then the Post tarred the comments from livestock and poultry producers by noting they were heard on a conference call hosted by the American Petroleum Institute, that advocate of those nasty carbon products like oil and gasoline.  And the story didn’t note that livestock producers were happy to see some relief from artificially high corn prices forced by the ethanol mandate.  Nor did it mention the hundreds of millions of dollars those artificial corn prices — as opposed to just higher market-determined corn prices that animal agriculture knows corn farmers needed — cost livestock producers and feeders over the last five years.

But it the Post did allow in a good point and a good line, saying livestock and poultry producers didn’t see “any more need to set ethanol volume requirements than there was for setting requirements for turkey output.”  Surprising they let a shaft of free market light into the discussion in a news story.  Especially while the UN climate change bunch is meeting in Poland whipping up hysteria over impending doom.

World War II Veterans Defy Administration’s Vindictiveness

If you want evidence of how the administration is going to back up that cold look and “I will not negotiate” stance from President Obama, we now have an example.

If you have ever been to the World War II Memorial in Washington, it is an open, outdoor theater-type design.  There is no indoor museum, no museum building, no walled off area.  Rather it is an arrangement of stone pillars around a reflecting pool.
World War II Memorial from the east.

World War II Memorial from the east.

There is also an organization that has been working hard to see that WWII veterans get a chance to see the memorial to their efforts before they pass from this earth.  The group arranges “Honor Flights” for veterans to be flown to Washington at no expense to them, takes them to visit the memorial and other historic sites in Washington and flies them home the same day.  These are men — some of them on walkers, canes and in wheelchairs  —  who saved the free world over 70 years ago.

Looking down to the WWII Memorial from the Washington Memorial.  No fences when we were there.

Looking down to the WWII Memorial from the Washington Memorial. No fences when we were there.

So how does this administration honor these veterans?

Since there is no closed off area, there is no way to “close” the memorial.  So they went out and got some steel panels, like those cattlemen would use to hold cattle in the middle of a parking lot with no fencing, and barricaded the area of the national mall where the memorial is located.  In other words, they went way out of their way to fence off an open area of the mall.
So when a group of Honor Flight veterans arrived from Mississippi, having traveled with all the difficulties of war veterans traveling in their 70s, 80s and 90s specifically to see the Memorial, they found it fenced off so they couldn’t get close enough to see the plaques and stones honoring their achievements.
The Memorial several years ago.

The Memorial several years ago.

We guess it would be predictable from this administration that vindictively shut down White House tours, the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels and found dozens of way to punish the American people.  That they would go far out of their way to install steel panels to block off access to a memorial honoring the world’s most heroic efforts to preserve the free world is sad.  This president has made it clear from ocean to ocean that he is ashamed of America and what she stands for.  Such action is, therefore, no surprise.

It also is no surprise how these veterans reacted.  The reports vary as to whether they simply moved the barricades aside and went in anyway or whether the panels were moved aside for the veterans.  But they were not leaving until they got in and saw what they came to see.  Kind of like what they did in Europe and in the Pacific.
We assume this is just a taste of the style of heavy-handed government authority-wielding we can expect to see.  After all, there was plenty of practice in implementing the sequester as brutally as possible upon the taxpaying citizens.  Brace yourself.
Published in: on October 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Obama Proclaims Republicans Extortionists.

How much more poisonous can the political climate in Washington get?

Opposing this administration’s policies has long been termed “racist” by the liberal left and the general media, regardless of whether the issue had anything to do with race, i.e. immigration, economic policy or any fundamental “reform” the president has embarked upon.  He’s also termed them extremists.  Apparently, that’s not producing satisfactory enough results in winning public and political opinion.

Wednesday, the president stepped up the rhetoric, calling Congressional Republicans extortionists for daring to oppose him in rubber stamping an increase in the debt ceiling.  What’s next in this war on those daring to oppose this administration?  The British term the party out of power the Loyal Opposition.  Churchill was the acknowledged master of wielding the (verbal) cudgel of Loyal Opposition.  Obama terms them  —  in his case — extortionists.  What’s next?  Calling them Terrorists?  Traitors?  This from the candidate who was going to be the Great Healer, as well as… well, you remember all the claims and predictions, including that shtick about the waves.  In fact, the manmade global warming boosters are heaping more scorn on “climate skeptics” now because a new report is due soon terming the manmade component mere background noise to global geology.  But we digress.

Just what did President Obama say to the Business Roundtable?

“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and had nothing to do with debt,” Obama said.

We’re not sure how the president can regard perhaps the largest spending project in our nation’s history irrelevant to budget and debt matters but economics and numbers were never his game.  To him, it just boils down to an attitude of this is what he wants.  Shut up and do what he wants.

What about Obama’s claim that never in history has anyone used the debt ceiling as leverage to get tit for tat?  Of course, historical accuracy is not the president’s game either.  Chris Stirewalt noted that Obama should know better on this one.  He and the Democrats used the debt ceiling debate to harass President George Bush over the Iraq war.  As for how we got into this mess, Stirewalt pointed out the United States has not had a budget since 2007.  We’ve been stumbling along with stopgap continuing resolutions ever since (Fox News, 09/18/13), including the years when the White House, the Senate and the House were Democrat-led.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck went further regarding “never in history:” “Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt-limit increase, and this time should be no different.”  He reiterated that Republicans do not want the U.S. to default on its debts.  The key words Buck uttered were “major deficit deal.”  Obama does not want his purse pinched.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner announced that there will be a vote in the House on a budget bill that would fund the government but defund Obamacare.  If the House should pass such a bill, it would put pressure on the Senate to do something to fund the government.  As Karl Rove pointed out on Fox News Wednesday, when the government shutdown occurred in 1995, it wasn’t really a full shut-down.  Seven of the 13 appropriations bills had already been passed then.

This time it’s different.  Congress has passed no appropriations bills.  Some departments are on short strings already because of sequestration (an idea the president fathered but refuses to acknowledge).  So a shut-down could really shut down everything not essential if that’s what the Republicans were really trying to do.  But while that’s what the left has claimed, the Republican leadership has never said they wanted to shut down the whole government, just defund Obamacare, using what few weapons they have at hand.

The Washington Post analyzed the budget situation in terms policy non-wonks could understand.  Why are the real cast iron conservatives so adamant on pushing this budget deal to the edge over Obamacare?  For one, they view this as the last chance to stop or delay Obamacare, with implementation just weeks away.  For another, they are concerned about primary challenges and the “ire of conservative groups” who want to “shred Obamacare at all costs.  A “we-tried-once-so-now-let’s-back-away” posture won’t ease any of their political pressures, the Post story said, (Boehner Agonistes (again),” 09/18/13).

We agree that those pressures are part of the equation.  But further, the left views opposition to Obamacare as misguided and really dismisses the notion that there are very many voters out there so unenlightened as to not want it.  And Congressmen who pay attention to what their voters want anyway, are just short-sighted politicians trying to get reelected.  Because the left are really the political animals, they can’t understand the conservative right as being rooted in principle and behaving like that regardless of consequences.  That is why they view a person like Ted Cruz or Mike Lee  — willing to buck both their own and the opposition party’s leadership — as extremists people should be frightened of.

The Post story said something else interesting about the budget standoff.

“What’s more, in order for a budget strategy to really be tested, it must be drawn out to the last moment.  These negotiations have increasingly become blinking contests, and Defund Obamacare advocates aren’t going to be happy until Senate Democrats are faced with a choice between a government shutdown and defunding Obamacare.  Anything else will be seen as a token effort.”

In other words, it isn’t High Noon until it’s noon and the street is cleared except for the two gunfighters.  All the rest is nerve-wracking prologue only the rest of us notice.

But at least some folks have the guts to step into the street.  Unfortunately, too many of our Washington politicians are law-trained negotiators, only interested in brokering a deal, not defending bedrock principles and values important to our country and its citizens.

And while this drama is crucial to all of us, it means all the rest of the stuff important to specific sectors of the economy, like agriculture or trade or immigration, just doesn’t merit much attention.

By the way, other news today also smacked of extortion and blackmail but it wasn’t the Loyal Opposition that was responsible.  USA Today and Fox News reported that the IRS had flagged groups for “anti-Obama rhetoric” and emotional statements, searching press releases, articles, commentary and research reports.  What is extortion if it isn’t withholding tax exemption unless you keep your mouth shut about certain things?  Is this more Chicago-style coercion seeping into our government?

K.T. McFarland only this morning wondered if our intelligence community was gathering such a massive volume of information that it couldn’t find even the obvious things when it needed to.  Like whether a guy arrested on weapons charges, harassing neighbors and hearing voices coming out of the ceilings and walls  — they didn’t say how cheap a motel he’d been staying in, so we assume they’d clarified that the voices were directed at him and that what they were telling him to do bad things  —  is the kind of guy who should have a security clearance and the okay to buy weapons.  If Obama’s people are having to sort through all the “anti-Obama” rhetoric, it would seem they have set themselves a gargantuan task, even though the left-leaning general media scoff that any such discontent exists, except for a handful of “extremists.”

As Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice noted  — his group has represented conservative and Tea Party groups harassed by the IRS in the process of seeking a nonprofit status —  setting the government to combing through the media for anti-government statements is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned in the U.S. Constitution.  There is this little item in there about free speech.  King George III did not like being spoken ill of.  But he was a king.  We’re supposed to have a president and a government by and for the People.

Meanwhile, we have an active, pushy, bossy, overbearing bureaucracy.  We don’t have much legislative governing going on.  However, non-government by paralysis could be preferable to really bad government.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Comments (1)  

D.C. District Court Denies Preliminary Injunction on mCOOL

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has denied a request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the new mCOOL regulations made final last spring.  AMI, NCBA, North American Meat Association, Canadian Cattlemen’s Assn., Canadian and American pork councils, Mexican cattlemen, American Association of Meat Processors and Southwest Meat Association had filed the suit.

AMI’s President J. Patrick Boyle has indicated an appeal will be made.  The complaint had pressed the case that the requirements of the augmented new regulations exceeds the authority granted in the statute.

Opponents of the new regulations have argued that the excessive costs and disruption of trade far exceeds the minimal informational benefits to consumers.  Research has shown very few consumers consider origin in making meat purchases, while quality, taste, safety and cost are the main drivers.  Origin does not affect safety, as health and safety standards have been in place for decades.  But full implementation of these regulations would both drive costs up and likely destroy much of the meat trade between North American nations.

U.S. packers already running well under capacity because of low cattle numbers, would further see operating margins deteriorate, with some border region packers possibly forced out of business by a critical shortage of cattle from both sides of the border.  The extensive segregation, tracking and recordkeeping requirements and the elimination of the commingling provision would likely mean the major packers would stop buying any but U.S. livestock.  Of course, that is the real reason some radical livestock and farm groups favor a strict mCOOL law.  They oppose trade with other nations in meat or livestock.

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Colorado Voters Rise Up Over Gun Laws

Voters in Colorado learned something Tuesday.  So did a couple state senators, including the president of the senate.

The voters learned that they can buck 137 years of statehood history and recall legislators who ignored their wishes, especially when visceral issues like gun control is involved.  Two senators learned that if they try to ram things down voters’ throats, voters might rise up and smite them.

State Senate President John Morse (D-El Paso) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) both lost recall elections Tuesday in Colorado, the first such recalls in Colorado history.

Despite being turned out of office, neither senator indicated acceptance of voter’s wishes.

“We as the Democratic party will continue to fight,” Morse said in conceding the election.

“We will win in the end because we are on the right side,” Giron said (“Colorado State Sen. Angela Giron Becomes 2nd Lawmaker to Lose Recall Over Gun Laws Support,” Washington Post, 9/10/13).

Having won commanding majorities in both houses of the legislature and holding the governor’s office, the Democrats under Morse in the Senate and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Arapahoe), the state’s first gay speaker, evinced a charging style that struck legislative opponents as a forceful, quick-strike offense.  Several of the gun control laws passed that made Colorado citizens the subject of much stricter gun control laws were pushed through relatively quickly.

Besides the restrictive gun laws passed over the objections of not only rural citizens, hunters, gun owners and the organized and vocal opposition of dozens of sheriffs, many rural and suburban citizens don’t even know another serious blow was landed on their household budgets.  With little hearing time and study, the legislature quickly and quietly passed legislation to force billions of dollars in expensive alternative energy costs on the rural electric industry serving Colorado and surrounding states.

The new law requires rural electric coops to source 20 percent of all their power from alternative sources like wind turbines and solar panels within a very short time period.  Hydroelectric power, already a long-time contributor to electric grids cannot be counted.  Rate payers will not only have to pay for billions in wind and solar farms but also the generating plants to back up the erratic sources of electricity and the transmission lines to carry power from remote areas to the grid.

With solar and wind power costing several times the cost of conventional coal and gas power, suburban and rural customers will see significant increases in rates.  One farmer estimated thousands of dollars per day in increased costs during irrigation season.  A large percentage of households not living in actual downtown areas of towns like Colorado Springs, for instance, depend on rural electric coops for power and will see rates go up.  In fact, since wording in the statute forbids the generating coops to raise rates anywhere near enough to recoup costs, it’s not clear how the generating coops will recover capital investment costs and survive.

We’re not sure what it is about plumbers and gumption  —  remember Joe the Plumber posing a key question to candidate Obama? —  but it was a Pueblo area plumber, Timothy Knight, who initiated the recall campaign.  Recall campaign volunteers gathered thousands of voter petition signatures to force the recall election.  Political observers believe Knight’s group might be the first to turn in petitions with a 95 percent validity score.  They used a handheld computer to check voter registration databases in real-time as petitioners stood by.  It is possible this recall will change the methodology used for voter petition efforts in the future.

In addition to local money and volunteer work, hundreds of thousands of dollars was pumped into the fight by the National Rifle Association and, further enraging state gun owners, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support the gun control senators.  Interestingly enough, despite Morse’s position as Senate president and bigger city media exposure, the voter turnout was twice as big in Pueblo, 30 percent (32,000) vs. 15 percent (17,000) in Colorado Springs.  The night’s returns showed the recall posted 51 percent against Morse and 56 percent against Giron, meaning in Morse’s case a few hundred votes was the difference.

Some dedicated Colorado citizens proved they can make a difference if they take the time and trouble to use the political tools at hand and harness today’s technology.

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  

World Class Cycling & Beef Continue Partnership in Colorado

Riders sweep under Finish line during final stage time trials in Denver, 2011.

Riders sweep under Finish line during final stage time trials in Denver, 2011.

Some thought it couldn’t be done.  You couldn’t convince world class Tour de France caliber cyclists to come from Europe to race in Colorado at 8,000 to 12,000-ft. elevations.  You couldn’t get thousands and thousands of spectators to watch such an event in Bronco/Rockies/Avalanche/Nuggets territory.  And an upscale burger chain to be a founding sponsor?  Right.

Yet the third annual USA ProCycling Challenge is set to kick off Monday, Aug. 19 in Aspen, with 16 top international teams fielding dozens of the world’s top cyclists.  And founding partner Smashburger  — itself growing and expanding in tough, demanding conditions — will again fly its banner over the start/finish lines.

When we attended and researched the inaugural 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Smashburger’s founder Tom Ryan saw a natural connection between the world’s fastest and most durable cyclists and a company devoted to serving better burgers.  Cycling is an physical activity, something that makes people feel better having accomplished it.  Smashburger’s building burgers to make folks a meal they feel great about.  After all, great food and the great (mountain) outdoors is part of a great life.

This year, the Challenge’s route is again beautiful but brutal for the cyclists, as the route goes from Aspen to Snowmass to Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek, Vail, Loveland, Fort Collins to Denver.  That would be a spectacular but wearing seven-day trip by car.  By bicycle, it boggles the mind.  But the cyclists themselves have found the challenge tough but doable.  We get to see the riders we see on television crossing the fields and scaling the mountains of Europe tackle the mighty Rockies.

Levi Leipheimer, a racer famous for his key performances on the U.S. Postal Service and Radio Shack teams with Lance Armstrong, won the first Challenge.  Leipheimer is a Montanan by birth but lives in California.  Nearing 40 years old, he has retired.

Christian Vande Velde, an Illinois native, who also raced with U.S. Postal, won the 2012 Challenge.  Vande Velde crashed twice in this year’s Tour de France but he will be on hand to defend his title.  Vande Velde not only told the Denver Post he’s rounding back into form but feels his Colorado-based team, Team Garmin-Sharp will be the top contenders this year.  Teammate Tom Danielson is coming off a win at the Tour of Utah and Andrew Talansky finished 10th in France.  Vande Velde said coming to Colorado to race is “a blast” compared to racing in France (“Defending Champ Christian Vande Velde says `I’m feeling better’ as Pro Challenge nears,” Denver Post, 8/18/13).

Obviously, these guys don’t recognize pain and adversity when they see it.  We are in awe of our friend John Pierce from England, who (just!) rides the race on the back of a motorcycle shooting photos.   Our imagination is unequal to imagining cycling these mountains at speed.  Speaking of crashes, the descent alone would kill most of us, let alone getting to the top without horsepower.

As for moving right along, Smashburger has continued to add locations during the recession/”recovery,” to number around 250 by year’s end, with franchise agreements and corporate plans to top 300 perhaps next year.  The restaurants make their own burger balls out of 5-lb. batches of 80/20 CAB ground beef.  When the meat balls hit the grill, they are smashed, seared and seasoned to order.  Smashburger has lots of options for buns, cheeses, toppings and condiments so a diner can customize at will.  If you’re decision-making challenged, they have suggested combinations, too.  For sides, we like the garlic and rosemary fries and the Haagen-Dazs shakes go down well.  Beer and wine are available, too.

Smashburger had been contemplating an IPO but a private equity firm got in front of the line and pumped $35 million into the company this summer.

Of course, a large part of the beef industry’s success are the thousands of folks out there hustling to please their customers using beef.  You may be familiar with the term “fast casual.”  There’s no exact definition, but for the beef industry, think of something in between the quality hamburger chains we go to when time is at a premium, like Burger King and McDonald’s  — we’re omitting the chain who’s name we dare not repeat after their LFTB bad behavior — and going for a steak at your favorite steakhouse.  Think a bigger, thicker burger cooked to your order with fancier sides, a little quieter atmosphere and maybe an adult beverage on the side.

That’s the slot chains like Smashburger, Red Robin, Fatburger and other regional chains are filling.  During the last five years, when food budgets have been tight for many Americans, keeping beef on their palate without spending a fortune has proven to be a surprisingly ripe opportunity for fast casual burger chains.  Smashburger has grown from one restaurant in 2007 to over 200 now in some of the toughest economic environments since Jimmy Carter.

Digging for home in last year's final stage.

Digging for home in last year’s final stage.

NBC Sports Group channels will be carrying coverage of the race on television.  For information about the race, click here:

Published in: on August 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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