Archive for February, 2008
This site is supposed to be about my photography. After a few days into this I finally decide on the first photo I want to post.
So let me introduce you to Johnny and Ken. Two great people and two fiery polo players who during a lull in an epic game of Risk 2210 AD raided the book shelf of our hostess. My camera phone captured it all.
Not that anyone asked but the answer to what do NYC polo players do in their free time?
They sit around drinking whiskey and Red Stripes while playing board games and reading books about sexual positions.
Hardcourt bike polo has been played for years, but with the growing popularity of cycling and all the media attention on bike polo, the sport is being found in a lot of new places. I don’t know just how all these places are finding out about it, but I’d imagine all the YouTube videos and MySpace pages have something to do with it. I was introduced to bike polo in the spring of 2005. At the time I was visiting friends and family in Ohio but I was living in California. A group of friends had started riding fixed gear bikes since the last time I had been home, and told me about how they had started to play bike polo. So on Sunday I met them at the park with the street hockey rink and we played. It was a lot of fun. With no prior knowledge of the sport I didn’t have a care in the world as to how other cities played the game. I didn’t even think if other places played. I was just into the challenge of something so simple, yet so complex. AND it was on bikes! I was hooked, but a couple weeks later I went back to CA and didn’t play polo for another six months.
Later that same year I was visiting Ohio and wanting to play polo again. All the same friends, and even more were still playing every Sunday at noon. I wanted to be good at this but it was so hard. I forget how they found out about it, but some were planing on going to Philly to play in the East Side Polo Invite tournament. The event was happening a week before I was going back to CA so I decided to go along.
Once we got to Philly, registered and got our spokecards we then found out that the sticks we brought weren’t the right kind. We had no idea that we couldn’t use field hockey sticks. I had no idea. So we had to borrow some crappy all wood mallets. These things were short, heavy, and impossible to shuffle the ball with. Passing was really difficult, especially considering that we had always played with a kids sized soccer ball. That’s right, we had no idea about the small ball “little beirut” style. And the “it has to be a hit to count as a goal” rule really made us suck. Bad. We sucked, we got heckled, we got whooped on. It wasn’t fun losing at someone else’s game. But it was still fun to play.
I think I scored two or three goals in two days of play. I can’t remember winning a game, but I do remember that in the second day a team we got close to beating was a team from New York. The same team we faced up against in our first game of “little beirut” style the day before and lost quickly to. In the second day of play the rain had stopped and my Ohio team was about to play that New York team again. By this time I had figured out that the little guy with the beard didn’t play very physical but he’ll speed bump the hell out of your rear wheel and pull as you ride over his mallet. I also could remembered that the really big guy with red hair was too heavy to mess with. The third player on their team was about my size and liked to check you any time he could. I learned all this the day before when my team and I basically got beat up. We had no hope of winning the tournament and I didn’t care. But I wasn’t about to get pushed around without a fight. This game is one of my favorite games I’ve ever played but I only sort of remember one play out of the whole game. After a few minutes into it and after all the expected rough house moves, there came a time when I rode up to the ball on the edge of the fence and was trying to get it out and the other guy who did all the checking rode up and ran right into me and was reaching over and around me to get at the ball on my left side. His bike was a little more forward that mine and that gave him a chance to start kicking me because the ball was still stuck between the fence and my bike. When he started with the kicking shit I started kicking him back and my elbow was going and he was forearming me and neither of us were going foot down because we both had a firm grip on the chain link fence. From this point I can’t remember what exactly happened. All I heard was the crowd going nuts, and that felt pretty good. Either we both foot downed or neither did, I don’t recall. The rest of the game was just as awesome. We tried our best to get some goals but those guys were more like bruisers and less like scorers so it was a close, tough game but we still lost. Afterwards we shook hands and said “good game”. That was the most fun I had on a bike in a long time, all I could think was that I needed to get good at this.
The two things I learned by being in the tournament were that Ottawa’s A-Team is super good as this, they beat everybody and showed us all how it’s done. The other thing was that playing with a soccer ball was a waste of time if I ever wanted to do good in tournaments.
As for the New York team we played against, that was Zach, Eric the Red, and Alex F. All of which I can say are friends now.
Yep, that’s me on a T-shirt.
Visit laekhouse.com for more info.
UPDATE: I think this shirt is now out of print.
The Winter 2008 issue of Bicycle People No.010 (Japan) with cover picture by Taliah Lempert, has a nice piece about New York City titled We [heart] NY + Bike. It is a few one page articles focusing on various bike stuff in NYC. The two that I’m interested in are ones with Patty and Brad of Trackstar in a how-to about taking a bike on the subway. It’s a funny, step-by-step photo series shot by Takuya Sakamoto. And of course, the other is the full page photo of Quinn at The Pit with a mallet in hand and a game of polo going on in the back ground. This is an awesome photo also by Tak. I can’t read Japanese so I just looked at the pictures, and there are alot of them.
One Japanese website has a overview of the issue (translated)
and Amazon.co.ja has issues for sale
But I just went to Books Kinokuniya on Avenue of the Americas and picked one up.
I bought the name hardcourtbikepolo.com last night, and this is the first website I have owned. Before this I was working with myspace to give New York Bike Polo a place on the web, but now I am using that just as a place for links to hardcourtbikepolo.com and nycbikepolo.com. When nycbikepolo.com was born in May of 2007 it was very basic looking and had minimal content. It was like that for months, then about the time some dog owners wanted to turn The Pit into a dog run the NYC site was brought to life. Ken did a super job with making it look on point, and I got to work on the content so people had something to look at, and up to now it has just been me adding posts.
With this site I will be showcasing my photography, travels to play bike polo and things about hardcourt bike polo in general. I will be posting less of my photos on the NYC site but a few other players in NY will be starting to post more so it will continue to grow. This site will be about everything hardcourt, but a good bit of it New York by default because I live in Brooklyn.
I am excited about this! Today, I have been preoccupied with thoughts on what I want to do. This afternoon, when I was working as a messenger for Trackstar, I had a job to go get a few bike frames from the sandblasters to bring back to the shop. I decided to walk and just carry the frames back rather that strap them all to my back just to ride five blocks. It wasn’t busy, plus that would make it easy for me to daydream about my plans and such. About a block from the pick up I saw something I might not have seen if I had rode, a set of ski poles just laying there on the sidewalk. The best type of ski poles, aluminum, straight and 50″ long. Now two ski poles richer, I felt like the Polo Gods gave me a blessing.
I didn’t make a lot of money on this slow Monday but I did find some ski poles and I even got in a 2 on 2 game in with Zach, and against Johnny and Adam. Not bad for day one.