Posts tagged me

A Crippling Case of Chlamydia (NYC)

That was our team name. Paul thought of it. Way better than anything I think of.

Peter DiAntoni took this portrait of my team when we were in Milwaukee for the COG Polo Invite. Click to see full size. Thanks Peter!


Peter DiAntoni peterdiantoni.com

Pedal Speed likes NYC Bike Polo

Pedal Speed NYC issue gives bike polo top billing in the contents and the cover. 16 full pages of photos in their coverage of NYC bike polo. Here are some of them. Click to see large.

Brazil loves The Pit

Erika Mader of Lugar-Incomum interviews Birdseye and myself during some regular pick-up games at The Pit in NYC. Here is a link to the post on Globo.com.

Fall Indoor Training

First in real time, then in hyper time.

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In the green room of Hunter College as we were waiting to play bike polo as the half-time show for the Gotham Girls Roller Derby. We played a 10 min. game in front of about 800 people.

Victor Li reports on bike polo during LMM

_MG_5530 victor li radio on bike polo

Bike Polo: No Horses, No Rules – (AUDIO)

Pedal Speed NYC Issue

In the new issue of Pedal Speed, a bike magazine from Japan, there will be a gang of photos from NYC and some bike polo too. I made the cover! Wow! There is a pre-view on Pedal Speed’s blog.

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Bike Polo

A few weeks ago Lindsay from a Philly paper was emailing me and wanting to talk about bike polo. The story went to print today and can be found online at www.philly.com. I’m going to repost the text here but you should follow the link to check out the 14 photos. Some good mentions of The Pit. (I’m pretty sure The should be capitalized). I think it’s a misprint about tournaments entry fees costing $200 but she was talking to Montana too. I am happy about how she correctly calls this “the first bike polo world competition independent of the popular international Cycle Messenger World Championships” instead of incorrectly stating that this is simply the first ever. I’m glad to see a reporter do some research.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Wed, Sept. 16th, 2009
By Lindsay J. Warner

Bike polo: No princes or ponies

Forget the upper-crust trappings. This is a rough-and-tumble game played on bikes with makeshift gear and regulations.

Dubbed “The Game of Kings” in sixth-century Persia, polo still conjures visions of manicured lawns, tight white breeches, and rows of gleaming horses.

Not so at a grubby little roller-hockey rink at Front Street and Washington Avenue.

“3-2-1-GO!” a voice bellows from the sidelines, and six polo players fly toward center court, racing to gain possession of the ball. Two players reach the center at the same time, scrabbling for control. A third player joins the fray, steals the ball, is catapulted through the air, and lands on the ground, mallet still in hand.

But in this game, nobody goes to catch the horse. The fallen player dusts himself off, collects his “steed” – a retrofitted, beat-up Schwinn – and pedals back into the game. This is hardcourt bike polo, and there’s no time for licking wounds.

Or for extraneous rules. Although the game is a combination of equestrian polo and grass polo – a dignified, centuries-old bicycle game that even had a cameo appearance in the 1908 London Olympics – hardcourt functions on the less-is-more philosophy. The game’s official origins can be traced back to about 1999 in Seattle, but details still are being ironed out.

“The game mutates with every new city it hits,” said Peter Dalkner, 32, a mechanic at Trophy Bikes on Walnut Street. “Everyone brings a slightly different set of rules about game length, court surfaces, and regulations to the game, and they all meet somewhere in the middle. Usually.”

Consequently, tournaments can be difficult to organize.

The game reached a milestone over Labor Day weekend, when Philadelphia hosted the Hardcourt Bike Polo World Championship at two recreation centers in Fishtown, a tournament that attracted nearly 50 teams from the United States, Canada and Europe. The tournament was the first bike polo world competition independent of the popular international Cycle Messenger World Championships, held around the world once a year. Back when the two events were merged, messengers would come to race, then stay for the polo.

“We didn’t really take ourselves seriously – the goalposts were two beer cans, and it was basically just a lot of bike couriers messing around having fun,” said polo player Montana Norvell, 30, who organized the Philadelphia tournament. Norvell is a former bike messenger who was part of the first wave of players to bring the game from Seattle in 2000.

The game itself is simple: three vs. three, score between the two cones, first team to score a predetermined number of goals wins. If you put a foot down, called “dabbing,” you have to exit play and ride to center court, where you’re required to ring a cowbell before re-entering.

The equipment is fairly simple as well, with a low-budget, do-it-yourself mindset. Mallets are made from heavy-duty PVC or polyethylene pipe screwed to a sawed-off ski pole. As very few players seem to know or care about the precise length of the mallet, they vary. Widely.

Bikes also are a hodgepodge, although most sport a rainbow of colors and brands that reflect the retrofitting necessary to create a competitive polo bike. That almost certainly means having a set of wheel covers – to prevent a ball, stick, or body part from wedging between the spokes.

While the funky – and accessible – fixer-upper culture of bike polo has aided the sport’s growth, it’s also caused a cultural rift between those who are serious players and those who just want to look cool doing it.

Until 2005, Taney Park on 25th between Pine and Locust Streets was a prime location, as anyone could show up with a handmade stick and a bike to play. Pickup games attracted many players and just as many curious spectators.

But then, Norvell said, the “courier kids” showed up, a group more concerned with emulating the urban-cool lifestyle and fashion of bike messengers than with playing serious polo. “And on any given night, upwards of 60 kids would show up to heckle new players or just cause trouble.”

The serious players moved to the court under I-95 just south of Rizzo Ice Rink at Front and Washington. Games got faster, the court was smoother and completely enclosed, and the dedicated players had a higher-level game. But this location – considered the best surface for bike polo in the city – also means less access for new players.

“It’s great that the level of play has improved,” Norvell said, “but that makes it like swimming with sharks for new players who want to give it a try. So we’re stuck in a tough spot for recruiting new players.”

As a result, Philadelphia has earned a dicey reputation as a hardcourt city. East Coast players are more likely to gravitate toward the Lower East Side in New York, where a famous court called the Pit attracts traveling players to Chinatown. Ringed with bricks and recessed into the pavement, the Pit is renowned for its gladiatorial atmosphere, as spectators peer down at the games below.

Supplemented by out-of-towners, at least 20 to 30 locals play polo there each Sunday from noon until dark, said Doug Dalrymple, who is 44, according to his MySpace page, although he declined to confirm an actual number.

Dalrymple says players are conscious of cleaning up trash, and often help mulch the grounds in the spring. He describes the atmosphere as welcoming. Several women have joined the playing ranks, as well as one man in his mid-60s who works as a violin repairman on Long Island.

In the larger bike polo community, players still are debating whether or how to standardize rules and tournament play.

At the moment, qualifying games for tournaments are nonexistent – consequently, last week’s world championships were played as an open-entry game. Rules also are in constant flux, as teams play on whatever surface is available – from basketball courts to tennis courts to hockey rinks to open lots with makeshift boards to stop the ball from rolling out of bounds.

Without a rule book, hosting tournaments is challenging, and it’s difficult to attract sponsors (how do they know who the best player is?), which some players see as a viable – and necessary – option for the sport.

Although tournament entry fees generally range between $100 and $200, bikes require constant maintenance, and players who travel around the country spend approximately $1,000 a weekend for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and bike transport.

In the meantime, the laissez-faire attitude of the sport is a prime attraction.

“Everyone who plays has a good time, and you don’t need any rules or regulations to figure that out,” Dalrymple said. “You get out there on your bike, hit the ball around, get to be young, wild, and free because you don’t have any referees blowing the whistle – it’s just good old-fashioned fun and anyone is welcome to play.”

One thing is consistent: Regardless of rules and regulations, the pavement still stings.

“There he goes again,” one spectator commented as a player went sailing over his handlebars for a second time. “Man, that kid just can’t stay on a bike to save his life.”

Blood n’ Dust 2

Blood and Dust 2

Blood n’ Dust 2
Alleycat
Saturday Sept. 26th, 2009
Dayton Ohio

This is year two for this race and the prize money has gone up 20% to a $600.00 cash payout. Fixed only, no brakes.

More info: Blood n Dust on myspace

Results:

Winner: Doug D (NYC)
View Blood n’ Dust 2 in a larger map

Velocity B43 wheels

Velocity B43 bike wheel close up

Velocity B43 wheels on Brooklyn Machine works polo bike

Velocity B43 front wheel

Over this past weekend while I was in Dayton racing the Gem City Massacre 6 and playing polo with a gang of fools. ZACH at TrackstarNYC was building me some wheels. Thanks ZACH!

Velocity took me on as a test rider and sent me a set of the new B43 rims in black ano. along with a mix of black and silver DT Swiss Champion spokes. Thank you Dave!

Milwaukee Bicycle Company had the hubset I wanted to run, in 32hole. Thanks Drew!

I’ll be running these back and forth on a couple of my bikes, putting them thru all the hell I can find in New York, on the streets and in the courts.

Bike Polo by Cristina Schreil

Back in February a NYU Journalism student contacted me about writing a story on New York bike polo. Here is what she came up with. You can see it as it was meant to be seen, photos and all, at VillageWritersProject.com

Metal clanked on metal as six bike riders sped around a street hockey court, using ski poles to hit at a tiny red ball. All of a sudden, one player swerved. As his bike crashed into the pavement, he hurled his pole into the air and cursed. The others laughed; it was just another Sunday.

Every week in Manhattan’s Chinatown, these players of bike polo – a sport resembling traditional polo with teammates atop bikes instead of horses – have gathered for pick-up games since the summer of 2006. While bike polo has been around for decades, even making an appearance at the 1908 Olympics, the NYC team of around twenty men and women say that within the biking community, bike polo is more popular now than ever before.

“You play to play,” said Doug Dalrymple. “No one’s trying to be M.V.P. No one’s trying to be the best defender.” Dalrymple, a bike messenger who first organized bikers into NYC’s bike polo team in the summer of 2006, also said, “Bike Polo is the most relaxed team sport. You just show up.”

The bike polo movement itself is relatively unknown.

Most NYC players started off as bike messengers, discovering bike polo through word of mouth. Dalrymple said modern hard court bike polo formed roots in Seattle and is popular among the biking community in cities worldwide.

In a typical bike polo game, two teams of three mounted players battle over a red street hockey ball – their aim is to hit it with a mallet — similar to a croquet mallet — through the other teams’ goal. Goals are the width of a hockey goal and are designated by two orange street cones. Games end when a team reaches five goals.

This is no sport for the timid. Players may smash into each other or ram their mallets between other players’ wheel spokes, sending players into the asphalt. There are only two rules: players can’t put both feet on the ground and must hit the ball with the short end of their mallets.

Players also say that bike polo and horse polo are completely different. You won’t find a national league, a slew of formal rules, or even uniforms in a bike polo game. Players wear whatever they show up in — jeans, sweatshirts — and ride whatever type of bike they have.

That’s something that NYU sophomore Chris Bowman loved from the start. Bowman, the youngest of New York’s bike polo players at 19 years, said, “I don’t need to go to and buy all this expensive equipment, I can go to a random dumpster and build a bike and mallets.”

Bowman also said that players craft their own bike polo mallets, often out of a ski pole shaft inserted into a head made out of roughly six inches of high density polyethylene gas pipe. Everything holds together with hockey tape.

“It’s D.I.Y. to the fullest,” Bowman said.

Although there’s no national league, teams in cities like Madison, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Chicago, sponsor tournaments each year — all of which the NYC team have traveled to.

Ken Stanek, a 32-year-old bike messenger who started playing bike polo at The Pit three years ago, coordinates NYC tournaments by finding sponsors and housing for visiting teams.

“A lot of other cities have commented that New York City is kind of like one big family and we totally are,” said Stanek. He said this is because NYC players have a unique enthusiasm: “As opposed to a lot of other cities, we can regularly get out a lot of people to play, even on a random Thursday night when it’s 30 degrees outside.”

So what’s next for bike polo? While Dalrymple said that the NYC team is more passionate than they were when Dalrymple first organized them he said, “It’s not going to become baseball, it’s not going to become football. It’s a street game.”