ESPI3 Bike Polo Tournament Washington DC 2008

Friday after work I rode home to get my polo bike and fill my bag with mallets, then I rode to the Chinatown bus to meet up with Paul and Zach, my teammates, and take a ride to DC for the third East Side Polo Invite. Being anywhere near 88 East Broadway and on foot is pretty unique, even for New York City’s standards. Five foot tall Chinese ladies are screaming and beating on the metal sidewalk signs to get your attention and get you on their bus. I’m a little used to it because I’ve ridden the Chinatown a bunch, but it still makes me shake my head and feel sorry for anyone who has to spend the day on that block. It’s enough panic, noise and confusion to make a man go mad. Well, that guy got on our bus. He smelled like hell and wouldn’t shut up about Jesus. The bus never leaves on time and after a while of waiting, this guy either got kicked off the bus or decided to get off, not without a fuss, and tried to steal the sign on the sidewalk.?. Then he got back on the bus because he forgot something. Back on the sidewalk again he was still going on about the Lord I’m sure. Long story short, The guy gets to go to DC and Jesus-talks the ear off the nice lady who was so unlucky to be next to the last empty seat.

Um, once in DC everything was fine. An awesome gathering at the pre-reg. lots of faces I was hoping to see. This polo crew we are in may be spread out far, but It feels like a tight crowd.

I’m going to go in no order because I don’t remember things super well, but some of my highlights were. Friday night after the party, we had a sort of group ride to a big house many of us were staying at. The Ottawa guys were driving a pickup truck and the rest of us on polo bikes. The spot was a couple miles away from the bar and a few of us were skitching on the truck. I caught up and took a hold of the drivers side door. Angelo was driving with the window down. I set my hand down inside the window and held on for a free ride, right then he grabbed my hand, held it there and said “Ever seen that movie The Goonies?” as he hit the gas. Good times.

Saturday we played four games in the round robin. Our last game and my most anticipated was against the Madison team. Kevin, one of the Madison players, was in New York weeks before and showed true skills. And this was on a bike that wasn’t his on a court he didn’t know with and against players he didn’t know and playing small ball (still new to him) with someone else’s mallet. At the tournament, I watched them play as a team before we had to play them, they seemed a little out of control. We played and Kevin is still real good and the Hunter brothers are INSANE! but still we beat them 5-0. Our toughest game, I thought, was against the DC courier team of Bruce, Andy Z and Ali. Every team had to play a game in The Battledome, that’s where we played the couriers. I forget the final score, I just remember that it was a tough win for us. At one point I about lost it, I did my usual and spouted off about taking heads off. The only thing I remember was I had the ball and was about to bring it up, Ali was rolling towards me, I looked down at the ball and looked back up and all of a sudden he did an end-o and turned sideways right in front of me and all I saw was his rear axle in my face. I lost my cool. Even though I said “do that again and I’ll take your f’n head off” all I really meant was “do that again and I’ll check you, hard”. I have a love for the guys that play crazy, I just hope they don’t hate me for talking too much shit.

Oh yeah, Thank you to the girl with cookies for sale. Best idea of the event, selling cookies to me. Thanks again!

South Jersey! way to go! You guys were my favorite.

And one more thing about the game against Madison. A few minutes before our match I went to the CVS on the corner and bought Gatorade and Reeses cups for my team, and the Mad guys. I walked over to Paul and Zach and then found Kevin and Jonny. Right then Ben rolls up and says “looking for me?” Kevin said that’s the classiest pre-game gesture ever, Zach said “you’re not even supposed to look your enemy in the eyes before a game”.

After the round robin was some pickup games, played a couple so I could say I played more that 4 games in 7 hours. The polocat took off without me, and I was fine with that because Zach and I were about to go get a good sit-down dinner. We went to Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill, a Pakistani/Indian place. The host was asking about our mallets as he sat us. The food was great and having a nice dinner after a game day is a good way to relax. The host’s name was Kan and was asking about “polo on bicycles” and told us about the Sandur Polo Grounds. It’s in Pakistan and is the highest polo grounds in the world (12,263 ft). Kan was excited to tell us about how they play “with no rules” and the road to get to Sandur is very long and difficult. We talked him into checking out bike polo the next day.

After dinner we made our way to the NW side of town to the race finish. Was there a while, had many polo conversations, Circus Ben told me a story about how Meena blocked a shot on goal with her face. Jason said someone called me the MJ of polo. Way too many things to cover here but as it got late and I knew our bikes were of only a few still outside so I went out to check on them. That’s when I caught the Milwaukee guys tagging my wheel cover. I tagged Joe with a slap to the face. They rode off and I took a look at what they left behind “MKE” “NYC no dice” in purple Crayon, ha ha.

So later when we were walking to our place to stay with (nice) Adam, a NYC player who just happened to be at the bar with a friend who lives in the neighbourhood, he was telling Zach and I about this good looking plastic he seen on the block we were walking to. It might be good for mallets, and we should check it out. It was late and nobody would notice if a few feet went missing. Once we got there, it did look good, right size, not too heavy… oh wait, it has “PVC” stamped on the side. “does that mean it’ll break?” Adam takes this 6 foot section and slams it to the ground. It shatters, “well forget this, this stuff sucks” and that was the night.

Some more about the Shandur Polo Grounds,


…Here it is still played in its original form, a game as tough rough and hard, on man and horse as the surrounding mountains themselves. A game without rules or empire, a game with only a few agreed convention of play. Polo in Khowar called “Istoorghar” has been the traditional game of Chitral, as our motto is “we play polo the game of king and king of the games”. The game is commonly played to the music band comprising a big drum.

BBC News has a story titled Polo match draws all the preformers.

And a good photo on Flickr.