I love New York but every time I return from Madison the first thing I think is that I can’t wait to go back.

Madison set a couple of firsts with the New Year’s Champs in Madison. First indoor hardcourt bike polo tournament to used a score board with countdown timer and buzzer. And first cash prize ($1000) to the winners. And in my eyes they got two things wrong, there were no team names and no spoke cards. But they made up for it by using only one tap out for the bracket games and having a few dozen donuts on hand for the second day. Actually, MAD Bike Polo got everything right. The organization was near flawless, they feed all the players multiple times over the weekend, lined up plenty of great sponsors, made sure everyone had places to sleep and had kegs of beer every night and other off court activities too. Nothing tops 12 hours of indoor bike polo in January.

The first day took place in the Goodman Community Center gym with 17 teams playing on a rubber basketball court with short wooden boards around the perimeter. And when the round robin was done most of us spent 2 ½ hours scrubbing the skid marks off.

The second day was outside in 30°F overcast and slight freezing rain at the famed Thunderdome. What could have been 4 tennis courts in length was shored up to be 2 ½ in length by the same boards from the day before. I know Max did a lot of work to get this done. Thanks, I’m glad so many players got to experience Madison’s home court.

I know that the Hunter Bros. et al could not have put on such a great event without the generous sponsors.

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 $75 entry fee.

There are a lot of things about the weekend that stick out in my mind. Angelo was the only one from Ottawa to make it. I heard something about Alexis buying an Xbox instead of a flight. Ange played pretty good even though his handlebars are the goofyist thing I’ve ever seen on a polo bike. And his Steelwool 48′s look nice but I saw a ball penetrate his front wheel and score on him. Even with that he had the most saves in his bracket on Friday, so he won the best defender prize, a Demos watch. Speaking of Ange he made me laugh when he rode around the back of his opponents goal and took a wind up swing at one of the cones and sent it flying and yelled “FIX YOUR POST” as he rode back to his half. I’m not sure why he did that?

Later in the day on Friday Jill and Angelo got tangled up in a crash and Jill broke two ribs. She not only finished the game but also played the rest of her games for the day. In another game Andy of MKE and myself faced each other on the charge and my mallet rode up and got him in the hand. His hand was swelled up after just a minute and Johnny Midwest took good care of him as he does so well. Sorry about the accident Andy and I hope the Brooklyn carbon knuckle gloves fit well. I think Birdie got hurt in the first day also, and in the second day Chris R. got himself taken out and hit his head. Speaking of hitting heads, This was the first tournament that I wore a helmet and I wore it in every game. I noticed a higher number of helmets being worn and read that all future tournaments in Madison will be helmets mandatory.

The Ben, Jonny, Kev team made a spectacle of themselves by playing their indoor games in bib shorts only. Dumptruck hung out in a bath robe. Julie is bike polo’s #1 fan and stood in the cold for hours to watch a bunch of dum-dums hit a ball around. Birdie screened a whole bunch of one of a kind t-shirts. I bought a good one and thanks again for picking me up at the airport. Joe, Jake and I got cozy in the back seat while Birdie got out of doing 77mph in a 65. Jake finally got a Milwaukee Pologuard as a prize, now he can stop bitching about not having one. He and his teammates Kremin and Joe also get to split the $1000 first place prize. Philly/NYC won nice jeans from Context for 2nd place. For 3rd, NYC won hand made leather hip polo bags made by Sarah Gagnon. Jon A. won a new Milwaukee Bicycle Co. 48 spoke wheel set for best offensive player/most goals scored in the round robin. Lots of people went home with bags of Just Coffee.

And as a few friends pointed out after my team was knocked out of the bracket, some other teams were going to keep playing to see who wins. It was a little unusual (with exception of NACCC 08′) to be watching a final. But one of the things I learned is that it’s nice to win third place and then be able to cheer for a team in the final game. I also learned that all signers of the Constitution have a street name in Madison.

It’s too bad my team and I did not get to play the winning MKE team. In the first day we were both the undefeated teams in our groups, and didn’t meet in second day. I remember the first time I played MKE in the NSPI 07′ and it was their first small ball tournament, we walked on them but I knew that after a few months of playing bike polo Little Beirut style MKE would be a force in polo. Good job you guys, I knew you could do it!
Jake MKE scores on Ben MAD hardcourt bike polo
Photo © Doug D 2009