Archive for November, 2008

Blood on the Wheels

Bloodly pentagram bike polo wheel cover

Photo © Doug D 2008

2 on 2 Turducken Challenge in Richmond, VA

RVA bike polo flier

Turducken Challenge
2 on 2 Bike Polo Tournament
November 22nd -23rd, 2008
Richmond, Virgina

2 on 2 is so much fun and a lot of work. Non stop polo for sure. The North End Knockout was really good. How far is RVA from NYC anyway.

For more info RVA Bike Polo


Winners: Nick & Josh (RVA)

2nd place: Mark & Montana (Philly)
3rd place: Leon (Seattle) & Chris (NYC)

Also there was a radar gun to record a fastest shot competition. Mark Capriotti unofficially hit a 73 MPH shot from a stationary ball. And netted goals were used instead of traffic cones.

More West Coast polo press

This is a repost from from November 5, 2008.

This is only slightly better (maybe slightly worse) than some bike polo stories this length. “Urban” I want to smack reporters that use that word. Just because it’s in Wikipedia doesn’t mean that’s what the sport is called. But they do use “hardcourt” just not in the title. But still, the writer isn’t very good with consistency. Sometimes it’s one word “hardcourt” and others it’s “hard-court”.
Amanda, “Dabber” isn’t the worst insult. At least not in New York.
And “grungelegant”?? Perhaps Not. (what the F are they smoking out there?)
There is the first media mention of “The Hardcourt Bike Polo Federation” and even this is being dogged.
And the info link at the bottom of the story is the SeattleBikePolo site, and as I write this, that site has not been updated in 240 days!!

Anyway. Here, read this….

Urban bike polo: A junker, a mallet, a ball and a hard surface


Brad Vest / P-I

Seattle bike polo players are ready to rumble under Interstate 5 at Northeast 65th Street. The hardcourt version of bike polo started in Seattle and has spread around the Northwest.


Bikes circle like sharks — lean, lithe and predatory. “Keep moving, just keep moving,” Matt Messenger urges. Then he weasels his mallet between my wheels and snags the ball. Rookie meat, I jam the brake — yes, just one — smash the cycle into a horizontal skid and bounce out of the wreckage.

“Nice fall!”

The sport is bike polo, the “urban/hardcourt” strain, as opposed to the more sedate variety on grass. All players need is a ball, a mallet — monstered together from a ski pole and PVC pipe, usually — and a

junker bike, often stripped of entangling elements like that pesky second brake and handlebar.

We’re rolling on the basketball court at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, where this crew meets twice a week. The rules are pretty simple: three-on-three to five points. Whack the street hockey ball through a bike-length-wide goal between traffic cones. Don’t high-stick (just like it sounds) and don’t dab (put a foot on the ground).

Riders fight for the ball with homemade mallets underneath Interstate 5 at Northeast 65th Street. Matches usually are played here on Thursday evenings around 7.

Dabbing is majorly bad. In fact, “dabber” is bike polo’s worst insult. Alongside “rookie.”

I am both. I’ll own it. However, I’m happy to avoid some of the other jargon, like a “taco-ed wheel.” Collisions are common, as are superhero layouts across the tarmac. But the riders have regained — or preserved — the playground grace of children, the fierce, breathless explosion of activity that sends you sprawling bloodied here, soaring there, well past your limits — and stoked, stoked, stoked, regardless.

In full scrimmage, they weave like alley cats, grind together like monster trucks, freeze into track stands: perfectly balanced on the pedals and as still as the Space Needle. Insanely agile, they’re also street players — all rollies and hoodies on thrashed, chopped, thrift-store cycles.

Urban bike polo. So gritty. So graceful. The mix deserves its own word: grungelegant, perhaps.

“It’s a sport in every sense of the word,” says Jackie Rust, a 25-year-old pedicab driver, “strength, skill, endurance, technique …”

Aaron Grant, 21, observes: “People can ride bikes, but only a few can handle them. Same thing with cars: most people can drive, but only a few make NASCAR.”

Those skills saved Gary TeGantvoort on his cycle commute — twice. “I’ve had to wiggle around cars in traffic to avoid getting hit. It’s second nature now. Polo definitively breeds good bike control,” says the 26-year-old manager of the Montlake Bicycle Shop.

Seattle spawned the modern game, which traces its roots through European servants (too poor for ponies) via colonial India all the way to ancient Persian cavalry exercises. But our city took the game to the streets in 1998.

“ was an online delivery company, right over there,” Messenger says, waving toward East Pike Street. “They hoped the messengers would be in and out every 10, 15 minutes, but business was so slow. We started playing in the underground parking lot, then in the empty warehouse. I must have played hundreds of hours on the clock.”

“That’s probably why Cosmo failed,” someone snarks.

I chip in, “Bike Polo Responsible for Economic Downturn — I can see the headline now.”

One hand steers and brakes, the other wields the mallet.

“Awww. We only ruined the online industry. Give the Republicans some credit.”

And then the discussion fritters into smack talk. But that’s OK. Trash mouth is one of the few rituals in this sport, in which players still scavenge for goal posts. Even in urban polo’s birthplace, the game plan is to “bring an iPod and some beer, ride some bikes.”

All that could change. Philadelphia will host the first hard-court world championship in 2009. Messenger — running his hands through his wild thatch of hair — says, “We need to organize so that corporate America doesn’t steal it all away.”

Christian Bourdrez, a 36-year-old snowboard rep, adds, “Look what happened with the X Games. Who is getting the money there, the boarders …”

“… or the fat cats?” Messenger explodes. The 37-year-old general contractor is something of a guru in the polosphere, the sport’s visionary, its Timothy Leary. But some players remain dubious about the next step.

Grant jokes: “The Hardcourt Bike Polo Federation. C’mon. What has the word ‘federation’ in it that’s still cool?”

Good point. Still — name aside — most riders are excited by the sport’s spread and its second generation. Rust points out: “Down in Oakland, middle schoolers are out playing. And Bike Works in Columbia City has a kids clinic.”

Messenger’s been even more proactive. His wife, Kelly Castle-Messenger, just gave birth to a girl, Viviana Pearl, instant hard-court royalty if she ever takes up the mallet. For now, she naps in a baby sling on the sidelines. Castle-Messenger, rocking the newborn for warmth as much as comfort, explains the fast-swirling skirmish. “The only rule really is no high-sticking,” she says. “Well, and no mallets in spokes. But players can edge each other out and, like hockey, they can check each other into the wall.”

Cycles squeal together in a tight clump. Like atoms, their nuclei avoid collision, even if wheel rims clack and mallets snag each other. But someone drags a foot onto the court. “There!” Castle-Messenger points. “That’s dabbing — touching the ground. He needs to ride a 360 loop before resuming …,” she breaks off and hollers, “Hey, don’t be a ball hog!” Then she grins, shrugs. “It’s a sassy game. Everyone talks a little trash, lets off a little steam.”

In the autumn chill, we watch the game clatter toward the five-point end. As the final scorer swoops around the goalcones, hooting, others — including onlookers — hurl mallets into the center court. The owners of the first six will play the next match.

This unfettered spirit remains the Northwest scene’s strength — and weakness, too. TeGantvoort observes, “Skillwise, Portland and Seattle are incredible, but East Vancouver tends to win tournaments. They have their own special court and train as a team.”

A bespoken space is the local players’ goal. Heck, they’d settle for some tarmac set aside a few nights a week. Amid a small huff of controversy, Cal Anderson Park booted them off the adjacent tennis court about two years ago. The riders now bogart the basketballers’ turf — a situation that grows tense in the long twilight hours of summer.

During a break, Dave Wells, a 32-year-old carpenter, explains, “We just need a lit court under cover.”

Sebastien Michel-Hart interjects: “With a retractable roof!”

Grant laughs. “Let’s shoot for the moon and maybe we’ll get something. How about KeyArena?”

“The city’s gonna be like, ‘Here’s a refrigerator box to play in,’ ” Michel-Hart, a 25-year-old bike messenger, shoots back. “I wish they’d give us Pratt Park over at 18th and Yesler. Or just a reservation system.”

As Messenger later notes: “There seems to be some prejudice. We’re not seen as a ‘real sport.’ Maybe the championship and all the kids getting out to play will change that, like the way the city came around to skate parks. We could share a court with dodge-ballers and the roller-hockey players … those are spectator sports, too. And isn’t the point to get people into the parks?

Kicked to the curb for now, urban polo will keep playing off the grid. Grungelegantly.

Seattle Bike Polo start times can vary (“Don’t panic if we’re late”). Bring a helmet, gloves and “a bike you don’t mind getting scratched.” Messenger also recommends “some beer and an iPod with a good polo mix.”

But wheels and goodwill are really all that’s required. Capitol Hill resident Aaron Willinger, 39, wandered onto the scene and wound up playing a full game recently. “I wanna make my own club and come back out here next week,” he enthused.

As TeGantvoort said, “We go easy on rookies. Don’t be intimidated. No one will knock you off your bike until you start knocking other people off.”


  • Catch the hardcourt bike polo crowd Tuesdays (7-8 p.m. start) and Sundays (5-6 p.m. start) on the basketball courts of Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. E, on Capitol Hill.
  • Thursdays they gather underneath Interstate 5, around Northeast 65th Street and Ravenna Avenue Northeast, 7-8 p.m.-ish.
  • Information —
  • Amanda Castleman is a freelance writer based in Seattle. She can be reached at



    AND.. if you roll through Thurs, the 6th at 7:30pm they will have The Triplets of Belleville on while you eat some really good food and drink Gimme! coffee with friends.


    Hey Prolly, What Do You Think?

    495 John Prolly wheelie BFF

    I’m pretty sure the person who stole my photo knew where it came from.
    Is it that hard to ask??

    Flier found on Moving Target


    I believe this was designed by Patrick Moberg

    As seen on Milano Fixed

    Southern California Polo Picnic

    818 bike polo flier

    Southern California Winter Polo Picnic
    Bike Polo matches
    December 20th – 21st, 2008
    North Hollywood, CA

    The flier says 1 on 1 & 2 on 2 matches so looks like it’s more for fun than bragging rights, good. But the flier also says 22-21. Typo I guess.

    Also 818 has a new weblog, visit for more info.


    Winners: East Van

    2nd place: East Van/Philly/NYC (Martin, Mark C., and Chris R.)
    3rd place: Seattle (Leon, Seabass, and Drew)

    Milano Bike Polo articolo

    Percorso sterrato per le mountain bike e zone attrezzate per le Bmx
    Bici e moto, la passione a due ruote
    Il «Salone del ciclo e del motociclo» torna alla Fiera di Rho dal 6 al 9 novembre con 1300 espositori. Stand, gare, esibizioniSTRUMENTI
    Gli appassionati delle due ruote potranno scoprire tutte le novità del mercato mondiale con 1.300 espositori di 40 Paesi che presentano il meglio della loro produzione. Ma il «Salone internazionale del Ciclo e Motociclo-Eicma 2008», dal 6 al 9 novembre al polo fieristico Milano-Rho, non si limita a metter in vetrina gli ultimi modelli di biciclette e moto e la vastissima gamma di componenti e accessori. La rassegna sarà infatti completata da due sezioni di intrattenimento.
    L’area «BiciLive» metterà a disposizione dei visitatori un percorso sterrato per mountain bike, dove effettuare prove libere, e zone attrezzate per le versatili e acrobatiche Bmx. Il pubblico potrà assistere inoltre alla «6 Giorni» con in pista, tra gli altri, Paolo Bettini. In programma anche la «Sprinter Cup», una straordinaria sfida tra gli uomini più veloci del mondo: Chrys Hoy, Arnaud Tournant, Teun Mulder e l’azzurro Roberto Chiappa.
    C’è poi l’area esterna (80.000 mq.) dotata di 12 tribune (8.000 posti) «MotoLive» dove si svolgeranno gare di diverse specialità: motard, il mondiale Enduro indoor, l’Europeo Supercross, Trofei monomarca e il MotoLive Triathlon. Tracciati realizzati ad hoc consentiranno di testare, in anteprima, le ultime novità delle case motociclistiche italiane e straniere e partecipare ai corsi di guida gratuiti. Ogni giorno il Villaggio sportivo ospiterà le esibizioni mozzafiato di celebri stuntmen e freestyler.SALONE INTERNAZIONALE DEL CICLO E MOTOCICLO. 6-9 NOVEMBRE. FIERA MILANO-RHO. PAD. 5-7 (BICI), 2-4-6-10-14-18 (MOTO). ORARI: GIOV. 10-18.30, VEN. 10-22, SAB. E DOM. 10-18.30. SS 33 DEL SEMPIONE 28 TEL. EURO 12/18. (VEN. 7 INGR. GRAT. PER LE DONNE). WWW.EICMA.IT.
    Marco Lottaroli
    04 novembre 2008

    See it for yourself at Corriere della Sera

    New Year’s Bike Polo Tournament in Madison, WI

    new years bike polo tournament flier madison 2009

    New Year’s Championships aka NYC in Madison
    Bike Polo Tournament
    January 1st -4th, 2009
    Madison, WI

    More info here soon..

    Championships.., of what exactly? Rumor has it there will be a $1000.00 cash prize for the overall winners. And a $250.00 bonus to the team that can knock out the CMWC Polo Champions (New York). Also a $250 for the NACCC Polo Champions (Ottawa). But I suppose this is only in play if those teams are in attendance and intact.

    More info at MAD Bike Polo

    Or contact JonnyHunter (-AT-) mac (-DOT-) com


    New Years Party Dec. 31st – Jan. 1st

    Tournament Jan. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th

    Format is to be determined, but with three days of polo with both indoor and outdoor games, competitive and friendly.

    Special mini tourney hosted on Jan. 1st, teams must consist of three players all from different cities. First team to 100 goals wins.

    1000$ US cash prize for winner of NYC in Madison. 250$ for the destruction of Team Doug et al and Team Stoners from Ottawa, 10$ to Philly if they even show up.

    Winners: MKE (Kremin, Joe, Jake)

    2nd: Philly/NYC (Mark, Montana, Chris R)
    3rd: NYC (Paul, Zach, Doug)
    4th: MAD (Ben, Jonny, Kev)
    5th: MAD (Jon A, Leif, Jill [Cecily])
    6th: Ottawa/NYC/East Van (Angelo, Adam, Pieter)
    7th: MAD/NYC (Max, Jamie Koy, Johnny Midwest)

    The first days round robin results.


    Just Coffee

    Ben’s Cycle & Milwaukee Bicycle Co.

    Furthermore Beer

    Contex Clothing

    Brooklyn Machine Works

    Demos Watches

    And I want to express gratitude to TrackstarNYC for sponsoring our team by covering our entry fee.