LFK (aka Lawrence)
University of Kansas and Washburn University
Marketing Coordinator for the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Kansas
Actually not what but in what language. Beer speaks English, German, Czech, Italian, and French. Along with his MBA and stamp-laden passport, Beer is a perfect fit for his position at KU.
Until recently, amateur elite cycling and racing. Beer competed both collegiately for KU and post-collegiately at USAC events around the country. He notched wins at the collegiate level and helped KU dominate in team time trials during his tenure. Beer still rides hard but now blends his old passion with strength training and “functional fitness.”
I didn’t know bike racing was a college sport
In the NCAA, racing is not varsity-level and so technically the teams are called “racing clubs.” They have their own multischool leagues similar to conferences like the Big 12.
In the beginning
“As a kid I was overweight. At age 14 I started riding a mountain bike and lost more than 60 pounds. When I turned 18 my father said, ‘Son, for your birthday I’m either going to buy you either a car or a bike. Choose wisely.’ I chose the bike.”
Using a point system, USA Cycling assigns a rank to each cycler. There are five categories. Beginners start at Category 5 and can work their way up to Category 1 – the most elite status – through a carefully calibrated system of performance gates. “One of my greatest successes was moving from a Category 5 to a Category 3 in a single season,” Beer said. Eventually he earned a Category 2 ranking, in part, by winning a Category 2-3 race in St. Louis with more than 120 riders.
“My current one of course! Before I got started in marketing, though, I managed an iconic bike shop called Littleton Cyclery in Littleton, Colorado that’s been there since the hippie days.”
In a word, paleo. “Seventy-five percent of the time I eat paleo and the rest of the time I eat like a normal person. I try to cut out as much refined sugar and carbs as possible. I can’t remember the last time I had a sandwich, or a burger with bread.” About carb loading before bike races Beer said, “the thinking of the nineties, that you had to carb-up before a race has changed dramatically. At first I was very adamant that I had to have a certain number of carbs. But I really don’t. I can get all of the essential carbs I need from foods that don’t have any refined sugar, flour or grain.”
What you love to hate
Scales. “I’ve have always hated stepping on the scale. When you’re racing bikes you need to keep your actual weight in mind, but now I just go by feel. Every time I do step on the scale I’m positively surprise.”
When Life Hands you Lemons
Eventually every rider falls. Beer almost had career ending crashes several times. Once he was riding in Lawrence at about 50 miles per hour when a car pulled in front of him. “I flew over the top of the trunk and landed straight on my head and flipped over a few times, just skating across the road.” The result was a concussion and some relatively minor abrasions.
“I’d already had a couple of really hard falls before. Falls are part of the game. You can’t let them keep you from riding. If you pick up a bike today, you’re going to fall at least once in the next year. Guaranteed. I didn’t let it stop me. I was back on the bike a week later.”
After he started working at KU last year, Beer’s riding dropped from about 25 hours to five hours per week. To fill the void he took up strength training. “I started going to the Underground Lab for doing weight lifting and Olympic type lifting (mixed in with some “crossfittype” exercises). Today I’m stronger and leaner than I was. I’m not a huge lifter, I want to point that out, I mix in a lot of high intensity cardio. Functional Fitness.” Most importantly he says he has more energy and is happier with the new blend.
Hey, Kansas City
“Kansas City has a tremendous cross fit community and, in general, there are a lot of gyms and a lot of opportunities to go work out. It’s an active city. Especially downtown we ride, we walk, we run. The urban cycling scene in Kansas City is tremendous. There’s a lot of cool bike shops, a lot of commuters. We have an urban cyclo-cross series. We have inner city mountain]]>
Photo: Submitted by Brandon Gerkin
Born and Bred
Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Bonner. It’s a cool small town close to the city. You can get to anywhere in KC, Overland Park or Lawrence in less than 30 minutes. It’s also a river town, so we know where to send hotheads to cool off.
What’s up with Catfish?
In high school, one of my friends always was saying “Slow down catfish!” to me. He thought my hat was a catfish hat, but it wasn’t. Everybody had nicknames, so when I hear Catfish these days, I look around for somebody from Bonner.
Visual Arts Instructor, Valley Park Elementary School, Blue Valley School District.
Guitar and vocals for Lost Wax, one of KC’s top party bands (they played at the MLB All-Star Game at the K in 2012). Before that BrownTown, a Kansas City Pitch Music Award nominated band that forged its way through the Indie music jungle of the early 2000s with a blend of FunkRopHipHunk. “Lost Wax is booked every weekend pretty much through November.” Besides parties and corporate events, Lost Wax is a regular at O’Dowds on the Plaza.
A vegetarian for 10 years, Brandon gave up meat when he was traveling with Browntown. “We were eating a lot of drivethrough and, even though I’ve always had a runner’s frame, my gut didn’t give a damn. I’d thought vegetarians were really cool and I liked the whole counter-culture vibe. I could respect that. So that became my weight loss strategy” The drive-through cuisine of BrownTown’s haunts wasn’t veggie-friendly, so giving up meat meant learning how to cook and pack his food for the road. It paid dividends at home too. His wife Nicole was changing careers from advertising professional to personal trainer and also trying to eat less meat. Once Brandon made the change, she did too, and now 2/3 of their household is on the veggie bandwagon. Their 4-year old son Gavin is the only carnivore in the house.
Favorite Veggie Dish
Kaw Valley Bonner Burrito. triple-size corn tortilla, pinto beans, avocado, steamed chard, his mother’s secret habanero salsa, and red pickled onions. Hold the catfish, duh.
When life gives you lemons
By age 28, Brandon had serious back problems and underwent two surgeries for a hemorrhaged disc and a static nerve problem.
To strengthen his back after surgery Brandon decided to embrace his natural runner’s build and actually run. It wasn’t easy at first; it took weeks to recover from the final surgery and his back hurt when he ran. He stuck with it though and worked on his form with strengthening exercises. Eventually he built up to running half marathons and entered his first Kansas City Marathon in 2012. His wife and mother-in-law are also marathon runners and now the October marathon serves as an annual goal to focus his training. He starts in the spring with shorter distances and works up to more serious mileage and 5 days per week of running.
“If you’re a runner, you know when you feel bouncy on your feet it’s gonna be a good run. I try to listen to that and go farther when I’m feeling it, but back off when I’m not feeling as bouncy.”
Keep it clean
Brandon and Nicole both do periodic cleanses, basically because they just like the way it makes them feel. Twice a year they cut out all wheat, dairy products, and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers) from their diet and stick to the plan for up to a month. “Even after we’re done it helps us eat clean for weeks after.”]]>