Archive for October, 2008
London bicycle polo: It ain’t for the genteel set
By Miles Johnson
Wed Oct 29, 2008
LONDON (Reuters Life!) – In car parks and concrete football pitches across London, cyclists of all stripes have transformed a badge of the British establishment into their own brand of extreme urban sport.
Bicycle polo replaces the horse with the two-wheeled bike for a mount, grassy pitches for hard asphalt and the elegance of a sport enjoyed by royalty and the rich into a gritty urban pastime for anyone with nerve enough to join the madcap melee.
Out are the riding helmets, gentlemanly attire and finely groomed steeds. In are fixed wheel bikes, gladiatorial-style chanting and a healthy dose of physical contact as two teams of three use improvised mallets to smash a small plastic ball between goals made out of traffic cones.
There is no referee and few fixed rules apart from players suffering a “time out” penalty if their feet leave their pedals and touch the ground. The first team to reach five goals wins.
“It’s like the new football (soccer),” joked 22-year old Max Knight as a fellow player with a waxed mustache and manic look in his eye whizzed past, celebrating a goal by roaring and thumping a mallet made from a golf club and packaging foam into the ground.
“You get people from loads of different places coming down to play all the time. First it was the bike couriers, but now it’s becoming more fashionable and they’re being replaced by students, designers, even lawyers.”
The first bicycle polo matches however were more tranquil affairs, played in the late 19th century by British colonial police in India who used bikes to practice their polo skills when horses weren’t available.
Bike polo once even featured as an exhibition sport in the 1908 Olympic games. But after reaching the height of its popularity in Europe the 1930s it fell into decline after World War Two, only to be resurrected by the cycle-courier communities of North America and Europe in the 1980s.
Now it appears to be in a healthier state than ever. Playing in an all-London league four times a week, players also compete in tournaments that attract teams from across Europe.
Star teams include Zombie RMY, who are one-time London champions.
“It’s definitely had a resurgence in recent years as more people are riding bikes in general” said John Hudson, a dispatch courier and the organizer of the annual Brick Lane bike polo tournament.
“The best thing is that there are no one set of fixed rules. We have players coming from Munich, Paris and New York who all have a different style of play. There is also a certain amount of physicality. You know, I’m not manhandling you, I’m just steering you into the wall”
Some players perform the equivalent of step-overs in football, letting the ball pass between their wheels at speed to avoid being tackled, while others shoulder barge their opponents or block them with their bike frames.
“My favorite is the elbow on the shoulder, where you grab them and can steer where they’re gonna go,” said Knight, who added that injuries have mounted, including one player who split his skull open on a particularly nasty play.
“It was all right in the end though. He was back playing again in no time.”
The State News
East Lansing, MI
October 30, 2008
“I can only imagine the image that comes into peoples’ mind when I say to them, ‘Yeah, I’m going to play bike polo tomorrow,’” said Connor Ryan, who started bike polo games in Lansing. “It must be something really fantastical. But once you get here you look and you say, ‘Oooohhh, That makes sense.’”
The MSU English graduate student is among a growing number of people who turn out each Sunday afternoon to the Ranney Park tennis courts, near Frandor Shopping Center, to participate in pick-up games of the obscure sport.
The game is played with two teams of three people — each of whom are on a bike and wielding a homemade mallet to play toward a preset number of goals.
The rules prohibit putting feet on the ground at any time during play and contact in anything but the same medium. For example, bike on bike collisions are fair, but mallet in the spokes crosses the line.
Attendance varies from week to week, but Ryan said he’s confident people who love bikes will love bike polo.
“You should just come with whatever you have,” Ryan said. “Because we really, honestly, only care if you have a bike and want to have some fun.”
All Over Albany
Bike polo, anyone?
posted Oct 30, 2008
By Jessica Pasko
Yep. It’s polo, on bikes, and it’s heading across the river to Albany on Sunday.
Collar City Bike Polo has been going on in Troy for awhile now but now they’re bringing it to the basketball courts in Washington Park. Apparently bike polo has becoming a pretty big thing.
Enthusiasts say the best way to learn about bike polo is to see, and play, it. The sport’s actually been around for decades and was first invented back in 1891, but the modern variant, played on concrete, first became popular in the late 90s in Seattle. Now there are teams across the country and internationally, and they’ve formed a community in which the teams organize frequent national and international tournaments.
Collar City Bike Polo started in Troy at the beginning of this past summer, and pick-up games are held every Sunday in the parking lot at Troy City Hall.
Group member Jesse French says it’s ridiculously fun and addictive, and everybody should give it a shot.
OK, but how do you play? Well, basically, it’s kind of like hockey, except you’re on a bike. Two teams compete using mallets (many people make their own) to score goals with a small ball. It’s rough and tumble, with some rules adapted from equestrian polo. French says that while the ball handling skills take a while to pick up, anyone who can ride a bike can play. Collar City Bike Polo typically plays three on three, with the winner being the first team to score five points. French says the level of play is steadily increasing here, so games among experienced players “can get pretty fast and furious.”
If you’re interested in checking out bike polo, spectators and new players are invited to check out the action Sunday at noon in Washington Park tennis courts. Some spare bikes will be available, but new players are encouraged to bring a bike they’re comfortable on and that they don’t mind beating up a bit. Occasional collisions do happen. You can also check out the action at their regular Sunday afternoon games in Troy.
Tournoi De Bike Polo
Bike Polo Tournament
November 1st, 2008
Palais de Tokyo
Winners: Madbikepolo (Ben, Jonny, Kevin) Madison, WI
2nd Place: Dans Ta Gueule Puceau – France
3rd Place: Les Canons de Karlsruhe – Germany
the rest is a mystery..
Bike Polo Tournament
October 31st – November 2nd, 2008
For more info see contact on flier