Thursday, November 25, 2010

Army Classic: A Eulogy

Preface:  these views are my own and not those of the ECCC


The Army classic was the longest running collegiate event in the country.  I imagine that it would be very very hard to find many events in the world of USAC races that have been as long running.  To say that the organization that occurred at these races was anything less than superb would be a bald faced lie.  The riparian zone that West Point is located in provides terrain with sharp relief and stunning opportunities for racing.

I have always been a huge fan of legacy and tradition.  I think that one of the paramount virtues of these things for races is that people know what to expect.  If it is good, then you can count on good turnout.  Army has been ale to provide us with this consistant quality over the years and I think there is a lot of respect for the weekend within the racing community.  In the loss of the classic, one of the longest running traditions in the ECC is gone.  2011 will be remarkable for the absence of two halmarks of ECC racing: no Rutgers river ITT to start the year and no Army HCTT.

Over the years the courses which have been used have varied and shifted.  So too has the conference.  When Army was first hosting races clip less pedals hadn't even been invented yet.  Greg Lemond hadn't won a Tour yet, cycling was even farther out of the mainstream than it is today.  As a result the conference was a lot smaller.

As the conference has grown in size, so too have the expectations for promoters.  One expectation that has been slowly coalescing is that Road races and Circuit races have to be big and well organized enough to hold multiple races on course at the same time.  I don't think that many racers realize this but the day is very tightly packed in the ECCC.  When promoters can only have  one race on course at a time it means shorter races to get in all of the fields that we have racing.

At the meeting this year it was pretty clear to me that there was a reemerging interest in promoting road races and circuit races.  I think that for many of the teams in attendance this fueled their voting against the classic.  Opportunities to have longer races over bigger courses is something that the ECCC is craving and Army wasn't able to deliver.

I for one really hope that this is like a a cold shower for whoever the 2012 Army promoter is.  I hope that we will return to West point and find the classic resurrected and in better shape than ever.  I dream about an ITT on rt. 218 and a 10-20 mi loop road race.  Nothing is impossible and I think that this might have given the gals and guys of West Point the shock they needed to innovate on the race model that we have seen for the last few years.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Good Day to be My Mouth

This isn't mine, but it looks just like it.
For those of you who don't know, I broke my Scaphoid September 25th.  I know, huge bummer.  But what is a Scaphoid?  Good question, it is a tiny little bone with bad blood supply that is a huge PITA to break.

So, what have I been doing with my life?  Other than reading books and studying law (both super lame)?

Stuffing my face.  Yeah, I like good food but never have the time to make it.  When I was super busy in undergrad and running 70+mi a week I routinely subsisted on Pop Tarts, coffee and Power-Burritos (Tina's frozen burritos).  Now that I have had time I have eaten a little better.

My Menue Today:

  • Breakfast:
    • 2 Eggs
    • Homemade Frech bread toasted
    • Bowl of oatmeal w/ Craisins
    • Black River Roasters Nicaragua Coffee (really Fresh Coffee Now.  Why would you change the name and lable of your business?!?!)
    • Cider
  •  Lunch
    • Chocolate covered espresso beans
    • Walnuts
    • Granny Smith Apple
    • Sandwich
      • Homemade french bread
      • jalepeno jack cheese
      • Turkey
      • Spinach
  • Post run snack
    • Banana
    • Nature valley bar (peanut butter)
  • Dinner
    • Homemade Orange soup
      • Butternut squash
      • Acorn Squash
      • Carrots
      • onions
      • broth
      • cider
    • Homemade Olive/onion/pepper bread
    • Salad
      • spinach
      • walnuts
      • craisins
      • onions
      • olive oil
Conclussion:  I am never going back to a sport that takes up so much of my time.  Don't you know that I could be eating?!?

Just kidding, it is almost time to get back on my bike.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An argument not often heard.

As always I apologize in advance for spelling and grammatical errors.

Often when health care is debated in the national political arena you get one of two arguments.  From 'conservative' elements you will hear that universal health care as a public obligation will cripple the economic force and viability of the country.  From the 'bleeding hearts' you will hear slogans like, "health care is a human right."  Both sentiments are of course designed for the attention spam of the American public.  If you will bear with me I would love to explain my point of view on the subject.

Contrary to either of the arguments that are on the forefront of national debate, I would argue that some form of universal health care is essential to the economic viability of the country.  There are of course other reasons to take these actions, but I am not going to focus on them.  For me, the most compelling reason to tackle health care is an economic one.  Our current health care system favors large companies and inherently disadvantages small entrepreneurial efforts.

Health care, like many industries is affected by economies of scale.  Through the course of history insurance companies have collected a wealth of information on people and their tendencies.  Collective bargaining of certain groups has lead to substantially lower rates.  For the insurers they have been able to look in large policies at lower rates.  When individuals or firms representing small groups have attempted to become insured, they have had to pay higher rates.  This is of course a super simplification of the way the industry works.  I know that there are levels of complexity and nuance that I haven't touched on and even more that I don't understand, but this is the broad strokes of the way the industry works.

As the cost of health care has gone up and the complexity of the procedures has intensified.  Out of pocket payment of medical bills has become basically impossible.  The costs of medical care have exponentially risen for insurers as well.  They are in business, no doubt about it.  To maintain coverage and profit margins they have been forced to raise premiums.  Premiums have not categorically risen at the same level, the proportional rise has been felt the most by individuals or  small group payers.

One of the biggest hiring factors in the past has been talent.  There are lots of different ways to quantify this, but suffice it to say that as an employer you want talented employees.  Large business hold a numerous advantages and disadvantages for an employee.  One that we don't hear about is the advantage that large companies have a huge advantage in hiring.  When offering the same salary they may offer a larger benefits package.  The problem isn't that they are effectively offering more, in actuality the economy of scale advantage they get means that they are actually offering less.

The central theme of my argument for a universal health care system is that it would offer small and mid size companies a better chance at recruiting and retaining talented employees.  Our current system has a centralizing effect on talent, placing most of the talented people in the hands of companies that are already enormous and cumbersome in their movements.

Were there universal health care, people would have one fewer economic hurdle to clear in beginning entrepreneurial ventures.  Right now there is already an enormous risk in self employment, the economic repercussion can be devastating if you fail.  However, the medi - economic (I don't think that is a word yet, just roll with it) dangers of being uninsured are staggering.  You would have to be a little crazy to undertake any sort of even mildy risky activity while uninsured.  It doesn't take a very serious injury to rack up thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills.  A relatively minor accident for an uninsured small business owner or employee could easily mean the end of the venture.

With all of the rhetoric across the political spectrum that is played to how great the spirit of American ingenuity is, I think it is important to find a common ground and try to unleash it.  You know that there are probably thousands of bright ideas that get shelved at major corporations because they are too out there.  Maybe a few more of these dreamers would leave the nest and strike out on there own were there some sort of webbing beneath them.

Even if this would only result in 1 huge American venture and a series of smaller ones.  The economic impact would surely be worth the burden.