Bike, mallets and a ball: Bike Polo is good time
September 2nd, 2010
by: Susan Jurgelski
Six mallet-wielding cyclists square off three-on-three, ready to go wheel-to-wheel on a sun-baked city tennis court.
There’s an anticipatory tension as thick as the sultry, summer evening humidity and the hypnotic hum of cicadas.
These bicyclists are geared up.
When a red rubber ball drops into play, members of the Lancaster City Bike Polo club explode into a weaving, jousting, mallet-swinging, spokes-whirring, pavement-scraping frenzy.
Their singular goal: To slam the ball — without their feet touching the ground — between the two orange cones on either end of the court using the “business end” of the mallet. If feet do hit the ground while riding, the toe-tappers must tap mallets “in and out” on a post.
This local club of free-wheelers, which has existed informally and quietly for about two years, is on the heels of the resurgence of an age-old sport dating back to the 18th century. While polo has traditionally been played on grass, bike polo on asphalt is gaining appeal, international momentum and attention.
“Bike polo has been around forever,” said 28-year-old stay-at-home dad Kyle Ciccocioppo, a hard-core, hard-court polo player and founder of the local club. “It’s really big, but sort of underground too, since many people still associate polo with horses.”
The urban two-wheeled version is a cross between hard-edged street hockey and a less glamorous and more gritty version of the game of kings. Players ride mounts that are lean metal, not muscled and equine, and whack a ball that’s generally rubber, not hard plastic or wood, with a mallet that can be made of a ski pole and industrial metal and rubber piping. Rules are few and mostly self-policed. Each club may have its own “house rules.”
Even without royalty, the game continues to attract plenty of loyalty.
Doug Dalmypire, a New York City player and former bike messenger, writes a blog at www.hardcourtbikepolo.com. He was interviewed by the New York Times and he posts press about the sport on his site.
But recently, he said, there’s been just too much publicity to track.
“I started to play in 2005, and just to guesstimate by my own research … (then) there were not more than 10 cities playing, but there are now some 120 cities (participating) in North America. It’s popping up in so many cities that never had bike polo before.”
Pun intended, it’s on a roll.
Some good stuff in this issue. A pretty photo set of bike polo and an I Love Riding in the City from Capt. Jake!
Look for it as you flip thru.
Bike polo: Jacksonville team adapts a lofty game, takes it to the streets
July 31, 2010
By BRIAN AKEL
Polo, a game once reserved for royalty and gentlemen of fortune, has now found its way into common culture, with an uncommon twist.
At least once a week, the members of the Jacksonville Bike Polo league mount their bicycles to play an urbanized version of polo.
The game consists of six players, three on three, each with a mallet similar to the ones used to play croquet, a plastic street hockey ball, a bike and a competitive sense of fun. Goals are set up at two ends of a parking lot, and the first team to score five goals is the winner.
Thomas Williams, one of the league founders, said it’s all pretty informal. About 10 or 15 people usually show up to play, and league members sometimes travel to tournaments.
“Last year’s tournament in Fort Lauderdale consisted of approximately 20 teams, and we played on pre-made hockey rinks,” Williams said. “Our current group has been together for almost a year and a half, but people come and go, and all are welcome. All you need is a bike and we’ll provide the rest,”
Local games are held at a parking lot adjacent to Zombie Bikes co-op at First and Main streets in Springfield.
The competitive, fast-paced, yet friendly nature of the sport has attracted a range of participants. “Anyone who likes competition and camaraderie is welcome,” said Venus James, a nurse at Shands Jacksonville and a bike polo player.
“People from all ages and walks of life come. Boys, girls, married couples, bicycle enthusiasts and serious players all participate in shoulder-checking and trash talking on the court, but are all friends after the game,” she said.
“It’s cheap to play and growing in popularity. It’s loosely organized, and we try to fit around everyone’s schedule.”
Short and sweet. Be sure to follow the link to see photos and video.
This news piece out of Wisconsin does a good job with the 2 min. they give the event. I like Rory and his presence is good. The game play clips are good too, maybe focusing on the “oooh danger” aspect of the sport but what else is someone who does not play gonna focus on?
For bike polo players, the North American Hardcourt Championships are
the zenith of the sport in the U.S. The national championships were
held in Madison last weekend. WISC-TV photojournalist Brian Mesmer
gives a look into the world of bike polo.
Well for starters I’d ask that they, as journalist, focus on the name of the event. Nowhere I found in any of the official info released about this event used the word “national”. Because this was open to all of North America. Despite that, whoever posts WISC-TV YouTube videos still used “National” in the video title, in the video description and in the video tags.
They almost get it right in the description, but the anchor identifies is correctly and of course Eric from Trek gets it right. I guess the person who posts to YouTube just didn’t get the memo.
The Ladies of NYC Bike Polo
July 21st 2010
By Emily Anne Epstein
What do you get when women, homemade mallets, beat-up bicycles and a ball collide? Bike polo, of course!
Closer to street hockey than pony polo, the game is played three-on-three until one team nets five goals. The hardcourt sport has been growing in popularity since its inception in the 1800s. There’s been a serious spike in the past 10 years, with teams popping up all over the world. One might say it is the fastest-growing polo variety, with canoe, camel and yak polo lagging behind.
You’ll have to follow the link to see the 16 photos that made it into the story. and the Question and Answer with Chandel, Fiona, Sara and Katie. They talk about who they have dated.
Follow the link to see a photo of two New York City players
Polo not just for the horsey set any longer
By Post City Staff
July 8th, 2010
ORIGINALLY AN after-hours indulgence for bike messengers looking to log some social time on their seatposts, bike polo is going mainstream and is fast becoming one of the coolest new sports in the city.
Follow the link to The Brooklyn Rail to see some photos too.
Mallets on Wheels
by Marianne Moore
The Brooklyn Rail
Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side has an odd, all-purpose play space at the center. It’s a sunken concrete shell, with markings at mid-court, metal railings, and benches along the tops of its shoulder-height walls. It might be ideal for basketball, kickball, or Tai Chi. Every Sunday and Thursday afternoon, it’s used for bike polo. Those who meet here in all weather for pickup games of three-on-three call it The Pit.
Bike polo is played with a hard rubber ball, the kind used in roller hockey, and improvised mallets. You saw off both ends of a ski pole and wrap one in hockey tape. To the other you bolt a small length of high-density polyethylene plastic pipe, the kind ConEdison uses for gas lines. You can use the wide part of the pipe, the part perpendicular to the shaft, to pass and handle the ball, but an actual goal shot must be made with the narrow end of the mallet, otherwise it’s called a shuffle and it doesn’t count. The only other rule in basic play is that you have to stay on your bike at all times. If you put a foot down, you ride to the side of the court and “dab back in.” The first time I watched the game, one player in particular kept on riding over to me and thwacking his mallet against the wall by my feet—I thought he was flirting with me.
I’d never seen or heard of bike polo before I wandered up to The Pit one evening, but it didn’t occur to me to describe what I was seeing in any other way. When I told people about it I said, “It’s exactly what it sounds like,” but of course that’s not quite true. Urban bike polo—also known as hardcourt bike polo—is always played on asphalt or concrete, usually at an unused playground. Hockey rinks are ideal, but those are hard to come by in New York. The landscape of the court can have a huge impact on the quality of the game.
The NYC Bike Polo League holds a practice in Brooklyn, in addition to the twice-weekly meetings at The Pit, on the playground of Junior High School 265 near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It lacks The Pit’s concrete walls—instead, the space is surrounded by a high chain-link fence, and the ball often rolls out of bounds and into the dried leaves and trash at the bottom. It makes for a slower game when play has to stop so that someone can fish the ball out from behind a Pringles can, and regulars at the Brooklyn court tend to play less aggressively, taking softer shots and passing more, in order to keep the ball in bounds. For this reason, total beginners seem to prefer to get their feet wet in Brooklyn. I met Taylor Antrim, novelist, journalist, and raw polo rookie, at the Brooklyn practice (it was his second time ever). His first day on the court, he collided with a fellow player and knocked his glasses off. “I felt really badly about it,” he said. Taylor has yet to make a mallet—he has to find a ski pole first. “I looked in my parents’ attic, but I couldn’t find one. I’ll probably have to buy one on eBay,” he said. He thought for a minute. “Actually, I’ll probably have to buy two.”
The crowd at The Pit is bigger and rowdier. They’re intimidating to approach. It isn’t their clothing or tattoos—it’s their body language. They are frank and relaxed, completely at home. Sidling over to talk to them one Sunday afternoon, I felt like somebody’s kid sister. I asked a few lame questions; everybody told me I should go find Doug. Doug (Doug Dalrymple, six years playing bike polo, native to Ohio) was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a fully naked woman. He’s handsome in an Ed Harris kind of way. When I asked him about the worst injury he’s ever gotten playing polo, he looked deeply offended. “Why would you even ask me that?” he wanted to know. He asked me if I’d ever been hurt; I admitted that when I was little I crawled into a chair and busted my head open. “Well, I think being a little kid and crawling into chairs is probably a lot more dangerous than bike polo,” he pronounced.
Madison gearing up to host the 2010 North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships
Kristian Knutsen on Tuesday 07/06/2010 1:00 pm
Sports both novel and long-established regularly rise and fall in popularity, moving in and out of public consciousness. The emerging sport of bicycle polo, particularly the nascent hardcourt version, is one that is just starting to draw attention beyond its pioneering players. It is set to get a local boost when the Madison Bike Polo club hosts the 2010 North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships over the weekend of July 16-18.
Bike polo has been played on a dedicated basis in Madison over half a decade, led in large part by the brothers Jonny and Ben Hunter. Renowned locally for their culinary talents and work with the Underground Food Collective, they are also known across the nation as boosters for the sport, which is blossoming among bicycle messenger and mechanic circles in cities across Europe and North America.
“Bike polo is one of only a handful of sports to have developed on a global scale during the age of the internet,” writes Kevin Walsh. Now based in Toronto, he was one of the original polo players in Madison along with the Hunter brothers, and maintains The League of Bike Polo, a global clearinghouse for the growing ranks of clubs.
“Its growth has been horizontal and organic, and for good reason people have been skeptical of various aspects of formalization, standardization, or top-down structures,” he continues. “But its rapid growth has given rise to the need for something to hold it together and ensure that its growing pains aren’t much more painful than the road rash worn by most of its players.”
Madison was selected last November to host the championships via a bidding process organized by a North American organizing committee, consisting of city and regional reps selected by clubs and tasked with codifying the sport. “Boston put in a good bid, but they had hosted a major tournament the year before,” says Hunter. “Madison has a reputation for hosting good tournaments.” These include Midwest championships in May 2008 and a New Year’s competition in January 2009.
One major goal of this particular tournament is to provide a greater level of organization for the sport at one of its highest levels with the intention of aiding its growth.
Click any image to see large
This issue of Loop has The Grime riders on the cover but bike polo players all over the inside. Not pictured here but Riki from Japan has a full page for his Joust polo bike. Then two more full pages of Tokyo Hardcourt Bike Polo. The NYC Bench Minor bike polo tournament gets 5 full pages with a group shot followed by 14 rider shots all of out of towners. Lee, Sean McDonell, Hugo, Ben Hunter, Brian Dillman, John Atwell, Sam Jackson, Matt Lane, Johnny Crash, Tucker Schwinn, Pierre, Clement, Ben Schultz and Kremin.
More info: Loop Magazine