Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Bike polo gains ground in Los Angeles" / LA Times article

Sara Livingston, 20, of Tarzana, left, fails to stop a shot by Brian Russell, 29, of Los Feliz, right, as the two cross mallets on a YMCA-owned roller hockey rink at North Hollywood Park. Bicycle polo, a derivative of the traditional equestion game, is gaining ground as a scrappy urban sport.
(Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times / October 23, 2010

Alex Dash still remembers the September day in 2007 when he discovered his new love. He had just witnessed a cyclist crash his odd-looking bicycle with one handlebar.

It turned out that the cyclist, who had modified his bike to allow him to swing a mallet with greater ease, was a polo player.

Bike polo, that is.

Dash, an avid cyclist, was intrigued. He was into road bikes, mountain bikes, fixed gears and any other type of bike he could find, but he had never heard of bike polo.

The scrappy urban sport — a derivative of the traditional equestrian game — was gaining popularity in cities across the country, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Portland. But it had yet to take hold in Los Angeles.

Through an Internet search, Dash learned about a small group of players who competed on Saturdays on a tennis court at Los Angeles High School. When he mounted his old fixed-gear bicycle, wielding a beat-up wooden mallet, it was a moment of revelation.

"I was like, 'I'm born to do this,' " said Dash, or Joker, as the 29-year-old photographer is known on the court.

Now Dash and fellow polo enthusiasts are asking for a city-sanctioned space where they hope to one day host world-class tournaments.

Players will meet with the Valley Plaza Park advisory board Thursday to ask that they either be allowed to build a polo court or that the park's four tennis courts be designated as multi-use space. They picked the spot, Dash said, because the courts were in near perfect condition, rarely used for tennis.

Craig Raines, a landscape architect with the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, said it's not unusual for park spaces to be set aside for a niche activity or designated as shared-use. There are spaces in Los Angeles already designated for model airplanes, archery and cricket, for instance.

"What they do is very sustainable, especially if they're willing to share the space," he said of the polo group.

Since August 2007, when Madison, Wis., transplant Matt Vidal convened eight people for what players cite as the first public bike polo game in Los Angeles at Pan Pacific Park, the local polo club has grown to about 40 members. Players have tried different sites throughout the city. The current venue of choice is a YMCA-owned roller hockey rink at North Hollywood Park.

To play the game, teams of three chase a street hockey ball across the court wielding long-handled mallets fashioned from ski poles and plastic piping. Most place colorful plastic covers on their wheels to keep balls and mallets from getting tangled in the spokes.

The scene alternates between grace and mayhem as riders weave and dodge around one another and occasionally crash. Many players sport scars from on-court mishaps. Some don helmets, knee pads, goggles and lacrosse gloves.

Like Dash, all have their polo names, including Lil' Sarah, Nola and Too $hort.

The camaraderie of the insular community is part of what draws players like Amanda "Jinxy" Wainscott to the game. The 26-year-old graphic designer from Fontana drives two hours from work in Riverside to play in Los Angeles.

"It's been a long time since I felt included in a group like this," Wainscott said. "I was such a sad, sad story of a loner, and then I got into the bikes."

But it's also the strategy and adrenaline rush of the game itself that people love.

Bicycle polo is more than a century old. Irish cyclist Richard J. Mecredy is generally credited with inventing the game in 1891. But the "hardcourt" style — played on hard surfaces rather than grass — has become popular only in the last decade, beginning with rough-and-tumble games among bike messengers.

"It was like a demolition derby chasing the ball around," Guy Bagley, 36, said of the games he played with other bike messengers in Seattle beginning in 2000. Bagley now lives in Los Angeles and plays in the local club.

As its popularity spread, the game has become more regimented and structured. Teams of cyclists travel thousands of miles to play in organized national and international tournaments. A new organizing body, North American Hardcourt, composed of three representatives from each of the nation's seven regions — including Dash, who represents the southwest region — formed about a year ago to orchestrate events like the North American Hardcourt Bicycle Polo Championships, to standardize the rule of play and to help clubs pool resources.

Increasingly, local clubs are getting officially sanctioned spots to play. In Vancouver, Canada, the city is building a court tailored to bike polo in one of its parks. Seattle parks officials recently gave their blessing, on a trial basis, for matches on some city tennis courts. And in Milwaukee, a group of polo players arrested for trespassing during a game in a parking garage had their tickets dismissed in exchange for fixing up a new county-sanctioned polo court.

The push for officially designated bike polo spots throughout the country may be a sign of the game's maturation as a sport.

Ben Schultz of Chicago, a Midwest regional representative to North American Hardcourt, said bike polo may be undergoing the same process that other young outsider sports like skateboarding went through. Once perceived as a nuisance, skateboarders now get their own publicly financed parks, and the sport has become big business.

Still, Schultz said, bike polo hasn't lost the element of irreverence that attracted many players in the first place.

"We haven't lost the fun — the beer drinking, goofing around," he said. "Crazy costumes can happen, weird bike adornments, crazy names. It hasn't been regimented to the point of sucking the life out of us."

/ November 28, 2010 / abby.sewell@latimes.com

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chicago grass video from '06

Blast from the past! You know it's an old video when you see Lucky playing grass in the Windy City. And peaking of Chicago, moving there for polo keeps popping up whenever Travis and I start talking about the future. Of course everyone has their own opinion- at the open Drew was making a case for Milwaukee while Ben had a really good argument for St.Louis.... hmmm....


Friday, November 26, 2010

Dekalb on the warpath

Back in '09 bloomington was still using golf clubs and pvc until "cowbell Nick" hooked us up with some "como orange". Since then i've always tried to pay the favor forward. Tyler over in Dekalb, Illinois has been getting the polo train rolling, and when he mentioned that they were short on gas pipe I sent him a lil' care package. Glad to see it's already getting used!

[but please, please get rid of that grey pvc- i almost lost an eye because of that crap.]

Ever since this day we've had plenty of gas pipe. So far it's found it's way to Indianapolis, Lafayette, Louisville, Nashville, and now Dekalb. I'll ship this stuff anywhere, so keep spreading the good word and tell whomever to him me up at polovelobloomington@gmail.com

Tyler, thanks a ton for the photos. Best of luck with the new club and hopefully we'll get to meet on the court soon.


Fort Wayne polo stepping it up?

Stas and they boys up in Ft. Wayne have finally got themselves a website. Could 2011 be the year they get serious? Of course they missed the state championship in September and weren't at the Midwestern Open, but there's so many events planned for next year that they can't miss 'em all! So go harass them at their new site. Hopefully we can get them down to Indy for the polo summit happening in a few weeks...



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mr. Do / Midwestern Open / Dillman headcam

Midwest Open Final from Mr.Do on Vimeo.

Holy hell what a fun weekend. I've been meaning to make a post about all the awesomeness but between my phone breaking and my computer dying I haven't had the opportunity. Fortunately dustin was quick about posting this little beauty. During the final match I actually remember people commenting of Brian "is that camera on his helmet?" Well who wouldn't wanna ride along with the Worlds MVP?!? Gotta love the that whole situation around 4:30 too. Nice glasses Jimmy!

I can't wait until NAH officially designates Dustin as recorder-in-chief and he gets a whole crew under his direction. All his amazing videos are his own effort in his spare time. Imagine what he could do with a budget, a crew, and a whole lotta cameras!!

Bravo. And it was great seein' all you crazy yahoos this weekend.


Edit: I forgot to add the names of the players. These were two legit super-teams featuring some of the best players in the world.

Kremin, Lefty Joe, and Johnny Hunter (winners) vs. Chicago Ben, Dillman, and Ben Hunter (runners up)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The B-line gets a bridge!

Bloomington's best bike path is getting it's own bridge! I've been watching the construction for a while now but they're going all out for this section near Grimes between Rogers and Walnut. According to the Herald-Times it should be finished by spring. Hooray for a community that cares about cycling!


Apologie vs. MGM - beautiful match edit!

APOLOGIE vs MGM from h.hiolle • lagraph.net on Vimeo.

Well known Euro teams Apologie and MGM battle it out in this beautiful edit. Classy uniforms, lots of nice overhand/weak side shots, and an epic backdrop make for one helluva video! Of course this seems to confirm my suspicion (and the hearsay) that Euro teams spend more time looking in the mirror than they do grinding their teeth (so to say). But I haven't been back to Europe since i was a teenager so i have no room to speak... fancy bikes, a beautiful court, and pretty uniforms is something i can't begrudge anyone.

Jealousy? Probably.

Though I'd be the first to buy 'em a beer and ask for tips.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More First Friday action at the Harrison Center

Fun times as always! Many thanks to the Indy Crew and the Harrison Center staff, who were a pleasure as always. Also that night was the first (unofficial) meeting of the Indiana Bicycle Polo Cooperative, Limited. Big things in '11!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Malletcraft / Gas pipe porn

I've tried out everything I can get my hands on (see above) but there's so many types of plastic and drilling/facing combinations I have yet to explore! Still in love with my tournament single capper and she's my main squeeze, but I think I'm finally gonna give in and try out one of those european cheater mallets. We'll see.

At least nowadays i have a productive output for my ocd.


Emerald City Open space needle trophy!

Originally posted in this thread at the League.

Now that's just awesome! Not only does it look like the space needle and it's built from bike parts, but it spins!! Well done Seattle, well done.


Aerial photos from the Emerald City Open


Originally posted in this thread at the League.

Damn i miss Seattle! And what an amazing vantage point! Apparently some guy was using a "skynet kite-cam" to take some overhead photos. This immediately made me think of my uncle's old radio controlled planes and helicopters... stick a digital camera on there and boom- beautiful overhead shots. A lot easier said than done, but what a neat idea. Maybe someone has one of those little blimps you see at hockey games laying around... probably not, but i'd love to see more photos like this in the future!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Are YOU ready for the midwestern open?

I am.

Since both Big Red Liquors and their distributor are no longer carrying FourLoko I called all the stores in the county to see if they had any left. One store waaay on the southside said they still had a few flats in the back. After getting off work this morning i drove on down and bought 'em all. A woman buying whiskey even commented "that stuff's dangerous"... yeah and whiskey ain't?


PS - if anyone wants to do a "Loko swap" in Lexington let me know! I like the lemonade and raspberry flavors but they aren't sold in Indiana...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Remembering the STL Lock-in

Trex gave me his old digital camera and there were some photos left on the card that he had forgotten about. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few from the lock-in! Let's take a moment to remember 24 hours of polo at the skatium, especially since it's not happening this year :(

Here's the best part though- a short video of a grudge match's beer point! The quality is so bad that i don't even know who's playing, but it gives a great impression of what the night was like...


Irvington Halloween Festival Bench Match recap

After loading out bikes and spending some time in the bike shop this is the sight we came out too... Travis and I had simultaneous heart attacks...

Thankfully it was just the Indy guys making fools outta us! Well played gentlemen, well played.

Overall great times at the Irvington Neighborhood Halloween Festival. Lots of little kids in costumes eating candy and watching polo! They especially liked the stupid ball tricks at halftime, though i about killed a kid with a wayward grass polo shot... yeah gotta keep practicing those. After an interesting match "Doomington" in their white and blood defeated the Indy team (decked out in black and facepaint) 20-6. The best news is that the festival organizers loved us and there is talk of making this a small tournament next year! Actually keith and i have all sorts of good things planned for next year, the most important of which is a statewide non-profit (that's already in the works).

Thanks to Short-shorts Megan for the photos. Also if you wanna see a few more from the day check out bruce's smuggy site. They're mostly just pictures of Bruce but there's some other good ones in there too.

I'm already excited for 2011.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


GREAT VIDEO! Part stl/como recap, part introduction to polo.

"You don't have to buy your way into it. You can find a bike in a dumpster, spend a few hours on it and go out and play polo."

And lol at Evan's busted wheel (5:58) from when we played in STL waaay earlier in the year.


Nov 5th First Friday Polo at the Harrison Center

Anyone remember these fun times?
It's that time again! Come play 2-on-2 at the shortest of short courts.

This'll be the third (?) First Friday we've played up there, and despite having newly resurfaced floors in the gym they still want polo to happen! If you've never been it's basically an art opening at a community center with music and drinks and (oddly enough) bicycle polo in a tiny old gymnasium. The caravan will probably leave the polohaus at 5pm, so show up around 4:30 if you plan on coming. And i promise this time we won't "home alone" anyone (sorry jake ;)


- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[the original info from Keith in Indy]

Novemeber 5th First Friday Polo at the Harrison 6-9 pee-em

Title says it all.

Since we played there last, the floors have been sanded and refinished to a beautiful luster. Now, it's time to give it a little character.

The Harrison is at 16th and Delaware. Games start at 6 SHARP.