Archive for April, 2010
I am impressed. This mallet is real. Now we all just have to find some 19mm shafts to fit them to. I’d be very interested in seeing one up close. I want to see how well the attachment is. Not to mention the weight of strength of the end caps.
- High Strength HDPE Plastic- Injection Molded
- Built in 19mm sleeve for added strength
- 1 bolt attachment to any 19mm shaft
- 150mm with cut lines for 130 and 140mm
- Includes 2 replaceable end caps
- All screws and hardware included!
- $19.99 MSRP
And next we have the caps. Nice to be able to buy replacement items. I wonder how they wear?
- High Strength HDPE Plastic- Injection Molded
- Works with EighthInch Mallet Heads
- Works with homemade mallets with 50mm inner diameter
- 2 Caps Included!
- Includes 4 self-tapping screws
- $8.99 MSRP
More info: eighthinch.com/polo
Hard-court bike polo grows in popularity
By Alexandra DiPalma
April 12, 2010
Here is a new story about hardcourt bike polo, The Pit, and polo players in NYC. Ram Man and myself are included in the audio segment. Also follow the link to see photos.
Each Sunday in Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side, six athletes ride small bicycles, racing back and forth over a blacktop surface about the size of a tennis court. They are divided into teams, and most wear helmets, padding and hockey gloves. Each player wields a mallet, attempting to hit a small plastic ball into a goal while biking without crashing, falling or putting a foot to the ground.
They are playing hard-court bike polo, a variation on traditional horse polo. And while the sport is usually associated with high society and royalty, bike polo matches in Manhattan’s Lower East Side draw a more diverse following.
According to Doug Dalrymple, the unofficial promoter of New York City bike polo, interest in the sport has steadily increased in recent years. But despite its growing popularity, many New Yorkers still know little about hard-court bike polo.
“If I had to describe the game to someone who knew nothing about it, I’d say that it’s something like horse polo, with the feel of street hockey,” Dalrymple said. “On bikes.”
Dalrymple has been playing for more than five years. Now, he helps to organize league play and is responsible for running the club Web site.
“We have about 40 people who play regularly,” said Dalrymple. “But it’s not like we’re a legit club — you don’t have to pay to play with us; you don’t have to be a member. All you have to do is show up.”
The community’s loose attitude makes the sport accessible to newcomers, and the nature of the game attracts young players who cannot necessarily afford a horse. Players ride on souped-up bicycles and use homemade mallets. Rather than a 300-yard grass field at an exclusive polo club, hard-court bike polo is played on parking lots or basketball courts.
In New York, enthusiasts gather at an asphalt court called The Pit, between Chrystie and Grand streets. Large crowds come out every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday to watch pick-up games played by bike polo veterans and rookies alike.
The Pit has been the location of several high-profile bike polo tournaments and is a well-known venue throughout the national bike-polo community. Just last week, a two-day tournament at The Pit drew bike polo teams from France, England, Germany, Switzerland, and all over the U.S. and Canada.
While the game might sound like some new-fangled extreme sport invented by urban youth, there is a great deal of history behind it.
“A lot of people think it’s a new thing, but bike polo has been around almost has long as bikes,” Dalrymple said. “It probably looked a lot different than this, considering bikes had just been invented, but the idea is still the same.”
First played in Ireland in 1891, traditional bicycle polo was played on a rectangular grass field and was included as a demonstration sport in the 1908 London Olympics.
Hard-court bike polo is different from the original game in that the rules are less formal and can be played in a wider variety of spaces, making it popular in urban environments where large grass fields don’t exist.
Most of the New York regular bike-polo players are men in their 20s and 30s, but there are a few die-hard players who are exceptions.
“We have college students and young people, but we’ve also got a few women, and our most senior player, Frank.” Dalrymple said. “I’m not sure anyone really knows how old he is.”
Frank Marcus, a middle-aged man who jokingly claims to be 25 years old, comes from his home in Long Island to practice each week. Like Dalrymple, he’s been playing for about five years and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“I just like to come out and enjoy the game,” Marcus said. “But sometimes I get in trouble for it. I got a few drinking tickets from the cops for having beer during the games.”
Marcus’ teammates tease him about the incident, and one of them caught the exchange on video and posted it to YouTube. Now Marcus is well known throughout the bike polo community for his run-ins with police.
“At the tournament last week, guys kept coming up to me and saying ‘You’re that guy who got the drinking ticket! You’re famous!’ ” Marcus said. “I still haven’t seen the video.”
Marcus and many of the other regular players have been dedicated to the game for several years, and they have the scars to show for it.
Phil “Ram Man” Miarmi, 34, moved to New York in 2007 and first saw a bike polo match at The Pit within his first few days in the city. He immediately was hooked.
“I started playing right away,” Miarmi said, unzipping his jacket to reveal a custom-made T-shirt with “Ram Man” emblazoned across the front. “And it’s been painful ever since.”
Miarmi is notorious for his countless injuries, and his tendency to cause them on the court.
“The first time I was out there, I just remember smashing into everyone, going full speed into the wall and pieces of my bike flying in the air,” he recalled. “I just don’t care.”
He has marks from several injuries, including cuts, scrapes, blackened nails and even a bruise that he had to “drill a hole in to get the blood out.”
Miarmi is not the only one with battle scars. Ethan Benton, 33, from Brooklyn, has been on hiatus since his shoulder injury.
“I fell off my bike, then my arm fell out of the socket, then I moved my arm and nothing went back the way it was supposed to,” Benton said. “So I’ve been taking a little break.”
Even the newcomers seem immune to the roughness of the game. Sara Wojcik, originally from New York, started playing bike polo in Poland a few months ago while she was living abroad. Wojcik and a few friends started a club in Warsaw when her mother agreed to sponsor them, providing mallet head material and balls.
“I came back to New York for a vacation, then I intentionally missed my flight back to Poland and went to my first polo tournament in Richmond, Virginia,” Wojcik said. “It was totally worth it, but it was very, very ‘bro.’ ”
Wojcik doesn’t mind being one of the only women in the scene. In New York, she has helped to organize a women’s bike polo night, or as they refer to it, “no bro polo.” Since skipping her flight back to Poland, Wojcik has had a lot of time to focus on the game.
“I’m still unemployed at the moment, so polo kind of rules my life,” Wojcik said, while bandaging her knuckles to cover a fresh cut. “It’s awesome and awful at the same time.”
Follow the link.
If you want to go to Berlin and show them how we do things, you have to do this first.
Mallets of fury: Boulder Hardcourt Polo makes its debut
by Jenn Fields
Boulder may feel like the spiritual home of all sorts of cycling, but when Nicholas Applegate moved here from New York last year, he took a whack but couldn’t find a single hardcourt bike polo game in town.
He’d stumbled into what was perhaps the only cycling void in Boulder — playing polo from a bicycle on a hard surface, like a roller-hockey rink. He started playing elsewhere, with leagues in Denver and Colorado Springs, but this spring, he decided to try to get a hardcourt league rolling here.
The second game for Boulder Hardcourt Polo will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday on the roller-hockey rinks at Foothills Community Park. Just bring your bike, Applegate said, and he’ll take care of the rest.
At the first game, last Sunday, Applegate showed up with extra mallets, prepared to teach people how to play. (He’ll do the same this weekend.) But a few players showed up with their own — the void was in regular games, not players.
“I want to get a regular club going if I can,” Applegate said.
Adam Sampson, who founded Denver’s Mallet Mafia hardcourt bike polo league, played in Boulder on Sunday to help Applegate get a league going here. The Mallet Mafia just started last year.
“I was visiting some friends in Los Angeles, and that’s where I found out about bike polo,” Sampson said. “I came back to Denver and really wanted to play.”
He made some mallets to share and started advertising.
“The first game I had, there were only four people,” Sampson said. “Now we get about 15 a week.”
Boulder has a bike-polo tradition, it’s just been (mostly) on grass. Doug Render started Boulder Bike Polo, a group that plays on fields, about 11 years ago. He said there’s been bike polo in Boulder for 15 years, maybe more, but as far as he knew, they were the only game in town for the last decade.
“These hardcourt players are like the next generation,” he said.
Render played with the group last weekend and plans to play again this Sunday.
“I’d never even seen it before,” he said, but added it was different than playing on grass and a lot of fun.
Applegate said they’re playing three-on-three on the roller-hockey courts at Foothills.
“The game starts with a joust, so there’s a little charge in the beginning,” he said. “It’s a way to settle out possession. Then it’s first to five, or highest score after 10 minutes, is the way we typically play.”
Sampson said people of all ages play bike polo, and on all types of bikes. But people who get into it often build bikes specifically for polo, he said. For example, he uses wheels with a lot of spokes, since even though he uses wheel covers, “you break a lot of spokes.”
“I like a single-speed freewheel with a pretty low gear ratio, because on a hardcourt surface, you want to be quick,” Sampson said. “It’s all about sprinting and being able to get to the ball first.”
Everyone the Mallet Mafia plays with has become a small family, he said, because the polo community is tight-knit.
“The core of bike polo is just about people getting together.”
More info: boulderhardcourt.wordpress.com
Bike polo virus spreads to U of C
by: Colin Minor
April 08, 2010
Cyclists at the university be wary, a noxious infection is spreading through the bicycle community. The virus is known as hard court bike polo, and has infected and made host of the Bike Root. Bike Polo has been replicating rapidly on campus since late March. The virus has been shown to transform mild mannered commuters into mallet wielding practitioners of skillful carnage on two wheels.
Bike Root Founder and Coordinator Lance Ayer is now an avid player since bringing the sport to campus as a part of the community bike shop’s “Bike Shorts Day” celebration.
“We just decided to have a match at our Bike Shorts Day party on the 20th of March and people came out in droves so we just kept doing it,” said Ayer.
The Bike Root now has a set of mallets, made of ski poles and plumbing pipe. Mallets, bikes, a ball, two nets and a surface is all that is needed for hard court bike polo.
The game is usually played with teams of three and ends when one team scores three points. Games can be played with four players and to five points when time permits, but are often timed when many people want to play.
Players cannot touch the ground the whole game, doing so is a penalty known as “dabbing” and requires the player to hustle to half court and audibly “tap out” on whatever available before they can reenter play. Players use the mallet extensively to “tripod” for balance, especially when defending the goal area.
Bike polo is quite quick and sometimes referred to as bicycle hockey. A team must make at least one pass in the other team’s end before shooting. Goals must be shot with the small end of the mallet; shooting with the wide end of the mallet is a “shuffle” and does not count. Only “like” contact — body on body, mallet on mallet or bike on bike — is allowed. Collisions and crashes do occur, but the sport is safe overall. Bike polo etiquette is to play others as hard as they play you.
The game also has a large social aspect. A portable boom box is essential and most players learn to bring food and refreshments, making each bike polo session also an enjoyable potluck. Ayer believes it is the people who make this game so fun.
“Everyone who comes out and plays, they just want to be here to play and it’s a really positive atmosphere,” said Ayer.
Bike polo has been a sport since 1891 and was a demonstration sport at the 1908 Olympics, the original game being played on grass. The hard court variant has grown in popularity in recent years, with much thanks to bike courier communities worldwide.
Pick-up bike polo is now being played Tuesdays after 5 p.m. and Saturdays after 1 p.m. at the U of C tennis courts.
On the new Blogspot site for Nashville’s polo club there is a selection of club logos they are trying to decide on. http://nashvillebikepolo.blogspot.com/2010/04/vote-on-nashville-bike-polo-logo.html They may have already made their decision because the best one is in the header as I write this but if you look you may notice that examples 3, 4 and 5 are of yours truly.
Monster Track 2010 is over. The race was thrown by a friend, messenger and past MT organizer. The day started in Brooklyn at a bike shop close to the Wiliamsburg Bridge. The idea was to do a group ride out out of Brooklyn and into the city. Then gather at a starting point and begin the eleventh installment of the race. I can’t be sure but none of the riders knew where the start was, they were being lead there. And none of the riders knew where the first check point was or if they would get the first manifest at the start or after the start. I was at the bike shop watching racers gather, talking to friends, trying to guestamate the racer to photographer ratio. My guess is one camera for every two bikes and there were over 140 racers from what I heard. I was not taking many photos at the start, I like to ride along the racers and get the riding shots. I even made it into Lucas Brunelles edit of the 2009 Monster Track. I’m behind Jumbo who is following Jersey Dan onto Canal. Anyway I planed this particular shot by leaving the bike shop a few minutes early and taking the bike path over the bridge. Not knowing for sure where to be, I made it to the crossover and was looking around for a good spot to get a shot of the riders flowing through the slight zig zag on the bridges bike path. Just then I saw a long line of bikes on the car path. shit. I climbed up the 10 foot fencing and snapped a few frames as I looked straight down to the roadway.
I got back on the bike to trail the last of the bridge riders so I would also see the start and get some info about where the racer would be going. We rode west on Delancey as if going to The Pit but the group turned left a couple block early on Allen Street. The crowd stopped at Grand St.
Here is where hell broke loose. Or to say it a different way, here is where the race fell apart the first time for the day.
I later found out that the organizer was worried about cops stopping the group ride over the car path so he gave half of the start slips (the info telling the racers where to get the first manifest) to the owner of the bike shop so the race could still get underway even if the organizer could not be there.
So here I am, in the middle of Allen St. in a narrow space 12feet wide between the North and South lanes of Allen Street. Looking at 100+ people waiting for something. Crowded, spilling out onto the street climbing on giant planters the city has set up as Greenspace. looking around for a photo and listening for info about when the start is going to be. There were a couple minuets that went by. I did not see the race organizer. Nobody did. He was not there yet. But before he could get there and before any of the racers got in line or set there bikes anywhere as directed, People rushed behind me. I turned and saw the shop owner trying to pass out tiny slips and when he could not hand then out fast enough, he tossed them into the air. Not all the racers were there yet.
I have raced alleycats, never Monster Track but I’ve raced. There is a pretty basic idea at the start of a race, you don’t go anywhere till they say GO. That’s got to feel pretty good as an organizer, 100+ people standing there nervous, jittery, jumpy, waiting to run to their bike and shove their way to the street and rip the first intersection. And all of them waiting on your word. No wonder races never start on time. Make that feeling last. And in that time, that’s when you get all the racers to put their bikes against some wall and then have all of them move over to some other wall. I mean who has not been to a race and not learned this? None of this happened. The start was messed up. Not to slam anyone here but the one who started the race probably just got nervous, had not thought out how a race as long standing as this one should start and most likely just wanted to get everybody out of there. I got in and grabbed a slip and it said go to 1st Av and 60th St. We were on Allen, and it is 1st Av. but 60th is about 70 blocks away. I was way behind the leaders. Made it to 1st and 60th. No one there. Looking straight up at the Queensboro Bridge and all around the four corners of the intersection with a hand full of racers looking too. A lady walking then said “if you’re looking for the guy with the papers, he’s around the corner.” I rode under the bridge and up the lane that becomes the bike lane for the bridge, almost a block and a half away from where they were supposed to be. No big deal close enough. I was on a freewheel with a brake and had a big camera hanging from my neck but the check point person didn’t care. He gave me the first manifest. I knew I was way behind the leaders so to catch up I went straight to the address listed where to get the second manifest. “Columbus Circle Middle” I rode across 7 Avenues to 8th Av and rolled into the circle. No one. Skaters, tourists, me. No racers, no check point workers. I had a few minuets but racers would make it there soon and I wanted to get shots of the leaders and follow for some racing-the-streets shots. I found the check point workers out of the circle and in the park entrance under the statue. They tried to give me a manifest. I took it and told them where they were supposed to be. They thought they were there they were supposed to be. I pointed to the circle and showed them the first manifest instructions. Walking them over there and keeping an eye out for racers, I gave a quick look at the second manifest, uh, it says THIRD MANIFEST and it has the finish location at the bottom. All I thought was “this is messed up”.
Think about this for a second. Whoever has the second manifest is standing at the location listed on the bottom of the manifest they are holding. Nobody would know how to get there because no one would come to get the manifest because no one would get the info about where to go. it’s was like infinity just repeating its self in my mind. Right then the leaders came in. A few saw the THIRD MANIFEST and yelled “WHERE’S TWO!!!!” a small group gathered and asking questions that had no answers. They took off. I followed. The first manifest was all Uptown. The second was and should have been all Midtown and the third was all Downtown. We ripped into the circle and down Broadway through Times Square and onto 7th Av. Somewhere along the way from 59th Street to about 14th I decided to just go to the finish. 6th Av and Canal. The race organizer was there with a couple of workers to help him. He knew it was messed up. He was spitting out ideas on how to fix it. A few minuets later Hugo shows up but says he’s out of the race for missing a few check points. Then just after that by a few minuets JT rolls up quick, finished the race and out of breath. First racer to finish. He says he did not get a signature at Stone street (i think it was Stone) because no one was there. Said he circled the block and no one was there. Same thing with another one of the check points, Attorney Street.
Nobody got Attorney St. nobody was there. But somebody was at Stone. The other racers came in and it was 3 more. A lot of loud talking and a lot of talk about JT being DQ’d. After a bunch of things I did not get details on there was to be a second race, starting at Canal and 6th, doing 3 of the 5 CP’s on the 2nd manifest and back to the finish for money and NOT the race win. Only 4 people raced. JT, and just one of the three others to finish right after him. Also a couple others that finished further down. JT won the second race.
JT did not win Monster Track because he did not get a signature at Stone St and the others did. But a point I’d like to make is I know the guy that was working the CP at Stone. He is a messenger, he races, he knows what to do at a check point. JT was on the 3rd manifest, riding fast as shit. and he was on the 3rd during the time that workers thought he would be on the second. JT could not help it, everyone skipped the 2nd. Maybe not all the 3rd manifest check point people where in place in time for the fastest racers. With all the mess ups that the racers had to deal with, I’m surprised that the results turned out the way they did. But then again, I’m not.
If there is debate, that’s fine. No matter what happens there will be debate. What is not up for debate is how real this race is.
Some more of my photos of the day can be seen on my Flickr
Here is a longer video that includes the Bike Polo Rules Sequence video as a segment. This one discuses the current state of bike polo, specifically organization and commercialization, from the view point of a few players in an unnamed city. It could also be from Savannah, Georgia. I’m not sure.