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John Kelso pokes fun at cyclists in his humor column in the local paper, then agrees to a group bike ride

Group Bike Ride with Kelso, July 2002
by George Wyche

On Tuesday, Jul 9, 2002, John Kelso's humor column in the Austin American-Statesman was titled, "Lycra, bulls: a winning combination". The 20 column inch story said in part:

In Pamplona, Spain, a bunch of people, ... , get out in the street and encourage bulls to run them down.... Get the bicycle riders to paint red bull's-eyes on their behinds and let Ferdinand have his way with them. If we did that around Austin, maybe traffic would flow more smoothly. Anybody got a bull they want to loan out?

John Kelso graced us by answering the cycling community's challenge to ride with us through 5pm traffic on a sunny July day that was at 90 degrees about a mile along Town Lake, onto the Pfluger Bridge (finish it!), onto the hike and bike trail, to Green Mesquite. He twice graced us by picking up the tab for slaking the thirst of a 50+ group of devoted cyclists of many persuasions (as I hope you can tell from the photos below). The humbly accepted an honorary membership in the Texas Bicycling Coalition. In short, a fun time was had by all.

[Ed. Note: Kelso's columns poking fun of bicyclists, plus one about the group bike ride, appear below.]

 

Kelso's July 2002 "Running of the Cyclists" column

Lycra, bulls: a winning combination

By John Kelso, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF, Tuesday, July 9, 2002
 
Ever notice how those silly outfits the bicyclists wear make a fella look like an Elgin sausage under a hard hat?
 
Doesn't look real comfortable, does it? You know how they get in those tight bike clothes, right? They squirt the insides of the pants with Vaseline, then they jump out of a three-story window into the tiny pants hole. This isn't an easy look to achieve.
 
Still, Austin bicyclists are a determined bunch, so they are out there again this summer in their annoying rubbery clothing. It is the season for annoying rubbery bicycle clothing. Like fire ant mounds popping up on your lawn after a hard rain, the bike riders appear on Austin's streets in their skin-tight, bright-colored gear as soon as the Tour de France begins.
 
So why do these amateur pedal-crankers wear this stuff? Simple. They want to look like Lance. It's pretense. This has nothing to do with aerodynamics. The racers in the Tour de France put on these uniforms to cut down on wind resistance. But the bicyclists here in Austin are merely riding around town, trying to look the part.
 
Hey, I like football. But when football season starts, I don't walk around town dressed in a helmet and shoulder pads.
 
Bicyclists. You gotta love 'em. I was driving along William Cannon Drive in Southwest Austin on Saturday when about 50 of these people were chugging down the street at about 17 mph on their bicycles, slowing down the cars behind them.
 
Who needs traffic-calming devices to slow down speeders when you have these guys bunched up in a knot? I felt like yelling out the window, "Why don't you people go see Red McCombs and spring for a car? Take up a collection and you can afford something used."
 
I've thought of an inventive way to pick up American interest in the Tour de France, though. It's a new event I call the Running of the Bicycles.
 
Right now, in France and Spain, two popular events are taking place: the Tour de France and the Running of the Bulls. One involves grown-ups riding on children's toys, and the other features drunks on vacation goading farm animals into goring them.
 
I've got a bright idea. Why not make them one event and have the bulls chase the bicycle riders?
 
In Pamplona, Spain, a bunch of people, many of whom apparently have begun happy hour about 12 hours early, get out in the street and encourage bulls to run them down. Seriously, these partying fools in Spain run out front of the bulls and say, in so many words, "You -- the big, brown, dumb-lookin' one with the horns -- come and get me." This is a good thing, because it thins the human herd of a few of the slow learners, thereby cleaning up the gene pool.
 
Why not do the same thing with these Tour de France bicyclists? Think how much times would be improved if the bulls were set upon the riders. I'd watch the Tour de France if I thought I'd get to see a horn flashing and the sound of Lycra popping.
 
Get the bicycle riders to paint red bull's-eyes on their behinds and let Ferdinand have his way with them. If we did that around Austin, maybe traffic would flow more smoothly. Anybody got a bull they want to loan out?
 
John Kelso's humor column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 445-3606 or jkelso@statesman.com.
Kelso's July 2002 column about his bike ride

Biking blues come from seat, not heat
Sunday, July 14, 2002
 
Some of the e-mail headlines I received from bicycle riders chapped about my Tuesday column included "You're not funny," "Hey fat (behind), get on a bike," "idiot," "you are a moron," and "Your a fool."
 
So, naturally, after all that buttering up, on Friday afternoon I decided to take up the kind invitation of about 30 Austin bicycle riders and ride through town with them in what I refer to as the Tour de Kelso.
 
The route selected by these riders so they wouldn't, you know, do in a geezer, runs one entire mile from the Austin American-Statesman parking lot on South Congress Avenue to the Green Mesquite Barbecue & More on Barton Springs Road west of South Lamar Boulevard.
 
Guess what? I made it the whole way from the Statesman to the Green Mesquite. OK, so I took a Yellow Cab back to the office. What do I look like? Tarzan of the Apes?
 
See, many bicyclists were angry about my column in which I suggested, in jest, I thought, that the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, should be combined with the Tour de France, in that the bulls chasing the bicyclists might add some action to this otherwise fairly predictable international sporting event.
 
"I just caught your article from Tuesday about the bicyclists, and I hope you're not serious," one caller said. I guess I need to put a big red stamp on my columns that says, "Just funnin' with ya."
 
Some of the letters I received suggest to me that many of the bicyclists weren't paying strict attention in English class. "It's amazing how a paper can let someone like you right such complete and udder crap," wrote one person who, like many others, assumed that I am overweight and could use a workout. I got way more than 100 e-mails, most of them cussing me out.
 
"Fat boy" was a term that was tossed about loosely in my direction. "Kelso is out of shape, doesn't exercise &emdash; he is proud of that couch potato thing," one bicycle rider wrote. Not so fast. I take out the trash and mow my own lawn most of the time.
 
So, in an effort to improve my relationship with the Austin bicycling folks, I decided to go for the ride. For the Tour de Kelso, I got my huge red, white, blue and black Lance Armstrong U.S. Postal Service team bicycle pants out of the drawer. If you think of them as a flag, when I put them on, you can clearly see that our flag is still there. Making matters worse, the bicyclists brought me a tight-fitting red, white and blue matching Lance Armstrong shirt. So now I didn't just look like a watermelon stuffed in a balloon. I looked like two watermelons stuffed in balloon.
 
"You don't look so bad in spandex," said Patricia Rayburn, one of the riders. Patricia Rayburn needs glasses.
 
You know the hard part about bicycling? It's not pedaling the bicycle. It's not balancing the bicycle. It's not sweating in the Texas heat, although I would prefer something with a radio and an air conditioner, and a swimming pool on deck, if possible. No, the hard part is sitting on the bicycle. If you could levitate yourself about, oh, 3 inches above the bicycle seat, riding a bicycle would be a snap. But you can't. So about the time we got about halfway to the Green Mesquite, I was thinking, "Did anybody remember to bring a pillow?"
 
"I think an Elgin sausage looks a lot better than you do," quipped Ryan Robinson, one of the riders, referring to the line in my column in which I said bicycle outfits make someone look like an Elgin sausage under a hard hat.
 
I will say this about these bicyclists, some of whom were from the Texas Bicycle Coalition, the Austin Ridge Riders and the Austin Cycling Association. They treated me like a king. They showed me how to work the gears, and they made sure I got across the intersections without getting run over by any jerk car drivers like me. They didn't laugh when I had a hard time actually getting on the bike. And two people &emdash; Trevor Crain and Stephanie Walker &emdash; showed up in cow suits and rode a tandem bike. You've got to like somebody who rides around town dressed up like a cow in this heat.
 
And nobody seemed to mind when I took a cab back to work at the end of the ride. Actually, they were probably relieved. Giving some old guy mouth-to-mouth is no way to start off a perfectly good weekend.
 
John Kelso's humor column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at (512) 445-3606 or jkelso@statesman.com.
Kelso's Feb. 2001 column
From: Michael Bluejay
To: austin-bikes@topica.com
Date: 2/7/01 10:25 PM
 
I tried to keep myself from responding [to all the angry comments about Kelso's column], but I couldn't help myself.
 
I'd like to make two points:
 
(1) Kelso's column is not INTENDED to be taken seriously. If it had been on the EDITORIAL page, that would be a different matter. Complaining about how Kelso describes cyclists is akin to complaining that a Saturday Night Live skit portrayed subjects in a negative light. Well of course, that's the whole POINT. Complaining about satire would demonstrate only that we don't get it, that we don't understand the difference between satire and editorial.
 
(2) In any event, before getting indignant, it's worth putting Kelso's column into perspective. For that purpose, it's necessary to actually read it -- the whole thing. Here it is below. :)
 
---------------------------------------------------
Let bicyclists pester cows instead of me
 
John Kelso, American-Statesman Staff, Tuesday, February 6, 2001
 
How about this silly bicycle bill being peddled by state Sen. Jeff Wentworth?
 
Senate Bill 238 would restrict groups of three or more bicyclists from riding on farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads that don't have shoulders.
 
Thanks, Senator Wentworth. Thanks a bunch for trying to keep the bicyclists out of the country, meaning we'll have even more of these pointy-helmeted pinheads clogging downtown traffic.
 
Personally, I'd rather have the hand-gathered-egg-eatin', espresso-inhalin', pickup-hatin', holier-than-thou'in, sprout-lickin', soybean-suckin', Wheatsville-worshippin', tempeh-totin', spandex-sportin', Mother's Cafe-dinin', light-rail-lovin' bicyclists out of my way and out in the boondocks.
 
If this bill passes, there will be even more of a Schwinn stampede downtown than there already is. I really need the extra aggravation.
 
The reason for the bill, in part, is that bicyclists being mixed with heavy agricultural equipment on country roads is considered dangerous. Maybe so, but why just pick on the bicyclists here? You mean it's not risky when some Elmer Fudd type pulls his combine onto the highway at 2 1/2 miles an hour?
 
In fairness, are we going to have a corresponding law that makes it illegal to haul cows on bicycle paths?
 
Besides, it's time Texas got rid of those outdated designations for roadways --farm-to-market and ranch-to-market. The terms FM and RM are becoming a joke in some urban parts of the state. What farm and what market do these roads actually connect in the Austin area? Sun Harvest Farms and Whole Foods Market? You know, you don't see a lot of cattle trucks running between those two, do you?
 
In Travis County, we ought to change both FM and RM to something more realistic -- like TJC. As in traffic jam to cubicle. Or how about CDSDC -- cul-de-sac to dot-com, a common trip these days.
 
I can understand the farmers not wanting the bicyclists around, because bicyclists can be pretty annoying when they hog the road.
 
About a year ago, I was driving along a narrow, winding road out by Lake Travis when I came up behind three bicyclists riding in a triangle and taking up a large chunk of the right lane.
 
I sat behind them for about 15 minutes, waiting for them to ride single file so I could pass. They just kept on pedaling like I didn't exist.
 
Then there was the woman on the bike who was flying hellbent for election down the crosswalk as I came out of this newspaper's parking lot.
 
I pulled up into the crosswalk so I could see what traffic was coming on South Congress Avenue. Then I noticed this bike headed straight at me at about 25 mph.
 
So I backed out of the crosswalk to let her go by.
 
The woman speeds into the crosswalk, stops her bike in front of my car, gives me a dirty look, screams "CROSSWALK" at me, then takes off.
 
This is the thanks I get for getting out of her way.
 
But that doesn't mean bicyclists should be banned from country roads in favor of mowing equipment, does it?
 
In fact, I'd rather have them out around Giddings, where they're pestering the cattle instead of me.
 
John Kelso's humor column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 445-3606 or at jkelso@statesman.com.





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