Kelso pokes fun at cyclists in his humor column in the local
paper, then agrees to a group bike ride
Bike Ride with Kelso, July 2002
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
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?
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
[Ed. Note: Kelso's columns poking fun of bicyclists,
plus one about the group bike ride, appear below.]
July 2002 "Running of the Cyclists"
Lycra, bulls: a
- 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
- 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
- Hey, I like football. But when football season
starts, I don't walk around town dressed in a helmet and
- 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
- 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
- John Kelso's humor column appears on Sundays,
Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 445-3606 or
July 2002 column about his bike
Biking blues come from
seat, not heat
- Sunday, July 14,
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- From: Michael Bluejay
- To: email@example.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
- (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
- Personally, I'd rather have the
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
- So I backed out of the crosswalk to let her go
- 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
- But that doesn't mean bicyclists should be banned
from country roads in favor of mowing equipment, does
- 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
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