Archive for September, 2008
The Montreal Gazette ran a bike polo story this week.
Bike polo is very likely, the best game you have never played.
At 9:00pm on Tuesday evenings in Point St. Charles you can join in on the the highly entertaining and exceptionally enjoyable game of bicycle polo. Hidden in Parc Leber on Rue Fortune just east of Wellington is a nearly perfect regulation hockey rink which serves admirably in ice-free weather as a bike polo venue complete with sideboards, lights and bleachers.
To the uninitiated, mallet swinging and manic one-handed pedaling might seem a difficult (emphasis on cult), frustrating and potentially painful pseudo-athletic diversion into sado-masochism. However, I submit to you that any able bodied person with a bicycle and a shred of curiosity will rediscover the simple joy of playing which was taught out of us from the time we learned to keep score.
In bike polo, everyone wins.
Beyond the compulsory bicycle there is little in the way of special equipment necessary to get in the game. A polo mallet can be assembled for next to nothing or borrowed from someone who is giggling so uncontrollably that they need to sit out for a few minutes. A ball, goal markers, as few as three other people and you’ve got a polo match.
I have had the good fortune to play with different groups in different cities and each has its individual local flavor. Whether on concrete, grass, dirt or ice using street hockey balls, lighted whiffle balls or mini soccer balls riding fixed gear bikes, tall bikes, BMX bikes, tandems, mountain bikes or mini bikes the glee-factor is always off the charts. While cycle polo has long existed and there are official international rules, the regional differences and house rules are what make life interesting.
In Montreal’s Tuesday night games (also Sunday afternoons at Chambord/Marie Anne, @5pm), players tend to use fixed gear bikes, street hockey balls and small cones about one bike length apart as goal markers. Teams are chosen at random and are changed up to provide balanced play. Players can use either hand to hold a mallet and goals count only when scored with the circular mallet end, not with the tubular mallet length. Emphasis is on skill, finesse and encouragement rather than aggression and violence which makes for an approachable game accepting of men and women experienced or not. The penalty for touching the ground with your foot is to ride out and tag a designated location before re-entering the field. As with most things in Montreal, helmets, wheel guards, eye protection and keeping score are optional.
If any other groups are out there playing in different parts of town, a tournament is in order.
They are playing behind the riviera hotel and casino convention center at
7:00 PM tonight. below is the link to the google map listing of the
Here is a picture of the location as scouted by KG on bikepolo.ca
So who’s got room in the car for one more from the Mid-west to the East Coast?
Here’s the deal, lovely Kremin would love to play some awesome bike polo and hang out in New York for this hobo picnic in The Pit October 4th & 5th, but… he needs a ride.
Who can help?
SADDLED UP TO ROLL
Bicycle polo enthusiasts gather in a Eugene park to knock-it-around
By Mark Baker
Published:September 20, 2008
No horses allowed.
Just bring your fixed-gear bike, your homemade mallet and your joie de vivre — because they play bike polo in France, too, you know.
It’s been around for more than a century, but the “urban version,” the let’s-get-together-and-find-a-hardcourt-surface-to-play-on version, is “growing exponentially,” Eilif Knutson of Corvallis says.
Knutson, 24, has been playing bike polo for about five years. Last winter he found a “bike-trick” video on YouTube made by Eugene’s Sean Watters. It was filmed on the basketball courts in Washington-Jefferson Park, under the Interstate 105 bridge. “And I just thought, ‘Cool, we’ve got some skilled riders here in Eugene — let’s see if any of these guys are interested in polo,’ ” Knutson said Thursday night in the park.
Since that first meeting between Eugene and Corvallis guys on a Thursday night in January, enthusiasm has been building as more and more people show for the weekly games, says Watters, also 24 and an EKG technician for PeaceHealth who hopes to attend medical school in the near future.
“The group of people who come out here is just totally eclectic,” says Watters, who organizes the games. “We have our skater kids over here,” he says pointing to a group sitting nearby. “And we have people who work at (The Center for Appropriate Transport), people who work at Co-Motion (Cycles). It’s just this huge group of eclectic people, and they have one common bond, which is riding bikes and having a good time.”
Riding bikes and smacking a watered-down street hockey ball with mallets made of ski poles and golf clubs and PVC pipes.
1-2-3 … polo! someone screams to start the games with three players on a side. Players ride fixed-gear bikes that only move when you pedal them, like a tricycle, and don’t coast. They steer and brake with their left hands and swing their mallets with their right hands. The object is to hit the ball through a makeshift goal created with two orange pylons spaced about two feet apart. First team to score five goals wins.
The equestrian version of polo has been around at least 2,500 years. The origins of bike polo are credited to Richard Mecredy, an Irish cyclist said to have invented the sport in the 1890s, says John Kennedy, a Sacramento, Calif., private investigator who began playing about 13 years ago and who organized the U.S. Bicycle Polo Association.
Bicycle polo was even an exhibition sport at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, Kennedy says.
Somewhere along the line, bike polo on hardcourts became popular with bicycle messengers in large cities. Whatever the case, it is the fastest growing part of the sport, says Kennedy, who plays the field version on grass.
Hardcourt bike polo is played in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, India — you name it, Kennedy says.
Its first Oregon appearance was in Portland, where players even play on unicycles, according to a recent story in The Oregonian. Bike polo has been popular in Corvallis for six or seven years, Knutson says.
About 30 to 35 players, most young men in their 20s, show up every Thursday and play to the sounds of blaring electronic music under the Washington-Jefferson bridge, says Watters, who drives onto the court every week and unloads a bunch of thin, wooden boards to form a hockey-rink-shaped court to keep the ball in play. Players soon begin showing up on their bikes, flying onto the court and skidding to a stop.
It becomes a party of sorts, plenty of Pabst Blue Ribbon in brown paper bags, the smell of cigarette smoke lingering through the late-summer night air. Games usually begin about 8 p.m. and go as late as midnight.
The group even has its own MySpace page that says, “One speed is all you need.”
Garrett Kovacs, a bike mechanic at the Center for Appropriate Transport, or CAT, the nonprofit community center dedicated to bicycles and other means of alternative transportation, started playing when he moved to Eugene in March. He plays for the simple reason that “it’s fun,” the 21-year-old says. “It takes a little practice,” he says. “It’s hard at first, then you get used to it, just like any other sport.”
Many who play have never been enamored of typical team sports such as football and basketball. Most of these guys were not on either of those teams in high school.
Alexander Hongo of Eugene, 24, who also works at CAT, did crew in high school, he says. “Normally, I’m not good at sports where you have to think about defense and passing,” he says. “Crew was good for me because you sit there and you pull. But this is just too much fun, and I made myself get good at it.”
He built his own bike out of a frame he found under a pool table on his porch, Hongo said, spinning the bike wheel that he’s especially fond of. “I don’t know,” he says. “It’s like this wheel is a part of my life now. It’s kind of an infliction or an addiction or something like that,” he said of bike polo.
“I think people who ride bikes enjoy being aggressive and enjoy team sports,” Watters says. “But a lot of times they don’t like the other aspects of it, the real competitive nature of it and all those things. They just want to have fun. They can ride bikes and have fun and not ride 40 miles — in Spandex.”
2008 Redline Monocog 29er
This is one of the bikes used for the bike polo scene in the movie “What Happens In Vegas” and believe it or not, Cameron Diaz rode this bike. Now it’s mine and I ride it sometimes and loan it to visiting polo players sometimes. I even did Dy-lan’s Invade Guantanamo Bay alleycat on this bike and finished 4th. Besides that, it’s just a place to put stickers.
Anthem #36 (Fall) Fall Fashion 2008
In this new issue of Anthem there is a four page article titled Bike Polo! New York puts a fresh spin on an old sport.
Text by Mary-Louise Price and Photos by Jeff Vallee.
I’m quoted as saying “New York plays tough” and “The best players from all over know that teams in New York can win tournaments – and do!”
Seven NYC bike polo players are profiled (myself included) and it’s all pretty good, check it out.
Blood -N- Dust
Fixed Gear No Brakes Race
September 27th, 2008
Must pre-reg with Brett. bloodndust (AT) gmail (DOT) com
I’ll be at this race. Actually, I never ridden fixed brakeless. Well, my old polo bike was fixed brakeless for a while and I did have a bike set up for the track and I did a few night races in Prospect Park last year. But a MonsterTrack style, on the street race.. not really my thing. Who cares right! I’m doing it! I won the last big race in my hometown. Oh, that was a three hour race and I finished 20 minutes ahead of 2nd place (and on my road bike). Whatever, it’ll be fun and I miss my friends in Ohio. They still play polo rough, and I owe Lee something. The winner of the race gets $500.00 and everybody gets to play polo Sunday, on the best court in the country.
$500 Winner: Ben Fry
1st Loser: Brent
2nd Loser: Doug D
3rd Loser: Wrong Way Tommy
4th Loser: Andy Ohio
Team Goldsprint Competition
Sept. 18th and Sept.26th, 2008
Vice Gallery 99N.10th St. Brooklyn
I went to this tonight, and there will be another night on the 26th. But as I type this I just remembered I will be in Dayton doing a fixed, no brakes only alleycat called Blood -n- Dust.
Back to Squid’s goldsprints, It’s in a Vice/Puma art gallary space and there were plenty of free drinks and a pretty good feeling going on despite the down computers that were to time the racers. In a jam, the organizers used a pair of stopwatches to time the head to head goldsprinters. So hopefully next week it’ll all be fixed (oh, the bikes were freewheel) and the times will be accurate. And if not, Oh well, you’ll still get drunk for free.
For more info Puma.com/icycle
Odyssey Twisted PC Pedals
As seen on Ben’s Cycle Blog
Say goodbye to kick-you-off-your-bike pedal strike. I’ve had plastic pedals on my polo bike for years now and I won’t switch to anything else. I used to run the crappy narrow plastic pedals that come in the box with complete road bikes and such. The ones that usually get thrown away. I liked them only because when I would pedal strike on the court, the plastic would grind away like wax to a curb, instead of lift the rear wheel like a metal pedal will do. But when I started to ride real BMX pedals made of plastic, two things happened. One, my bike looked a lot better. And two, my feet didn’t hurt from flexing over those tiny, cheap things I was using.
Get’em from Ben’s Cycle, they have them in stock now.