Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memphis wheel covers



Spotted at Gotta Be Gritty.

I didn't even know Memphis, TN played polo until i ran across this blog. Gotta love that hippo-bird.

-W.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Initiation" in Rouen, France




Looks like the Rouen polo crew is trying to get their young'uns up to speed! Reminds me of the demo at the project school we did with Keith and the Indy guys last month. Events like this are good for some many reasons- the most basic being more polo players (!) and more generally contributing to the overall legitimacy of the sport. Plus it's just good karma. Keep polo inclusive!

View the full set here at the Guidoline flickr.

-W.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1906 polo in Helsinki, Finland


From the photo's original finder:
"
I found an old bike polo pic in a book from 1906, Idrotten i Finlad (Sports in Finland) by Ivar Wilskman. The picture shows a game of polo in the Kaisaniemi park in Helsinki (Helsingfors Velocipedklubb)."

I love old photos like this, especially ones featuring bike polo. Those Scandinavians are always ahead of the curve.

From here via here.

-W.

DC Polo video from Washington Post


Nice, concise video from the Washington Post on DC Bike Polo. Arlen, the guy in the red shirt who shows the cameraman ball control, is actually a guy we (Trex Lembo and I) played with in Lexington. That dude has no fear! Good player, and a super-nice polo-playing wife too, if i remember correctly. Anyway, great little video and i wish them all the best!

-W.

ESPI5 twitterings

"Machine Politics beats Beaver Boys 5-4 on a power play. Apologies beats DTGP 3-1. 31 degrees Celcius in the shade."

http://twitter.com/leagueofpolo

I haven't been this excited about twitter updates since...well, never. God i wish i was in NYC right now. Or South Africa. But i guess i'll settle for twitter updates.

-W.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Veni vidi vici." STL Ben's recap


"We came. We saw. We conquered." (by STL Ben WK)
-Originally posted here.-

"When I heard that Bloomington’s bike polo club was hosting a tournament for newer members of the game, I knew that Francis had to go and show his old club what he had learned playing polo in, what I believe to be, one of the strongest polo clubs in the world.

Iron sharpens iron, and our small club full of shredders has spent the past five months turning Francis into the sharpest young gun I have seen since Rookie Nick started shredding in CoMo. Francis just needed a solid team backing him.

I knew Francis had the potential to blow the minds of his former club members; he just needed the support of two other players that weren’t serious polo veterans. The potential I saw led me to slightly take, what I felt like was, a coach/leadership role in the whole situation. Nothing was going to get in the way of Francis shredding against his former club…I was going to do whatever it took to make sure that happened.

When it came time to building a team around Francis, Evan was an obvious first choice. Evan started playing polo late last summer, missed extended stretches of winter polo, but has still grown into a solid young gun and a smart, consistent goalie. Even in the weeks leading up the Indiana Invitational, I witnessed Evans attacking skills develop at a rapid pace. His slap shot was getting harder and more consistent, and he had mastered “The Ben Shot.” With Evan teaming up with Francis, two solid pieces of the puzzle gelled perfectly into place.

The hunt for a third teammate was on. A couple of options were kicked around, but when those scenarios fell through the cracks, I was willing and eager to step into the final spot on the team as the tournament quickly approached. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity; there was so much to (potentially) gain from this tournament:

-Get another semi-serious tournament under my belt before North Americans.

-See Bloomington’s reaction when they see the new, improved, STL trained Francis.

-Be the first STL team to podium in a tournament.

So we were set. The three of us played two practice games together on a Wednesday night ten days before the tournament. That was all the practice we needed or could manage as Evan was leaving town a few days later.

At 4:00 AM on Saturday morning, we were on Highway 70 on a collision course for Bloomington, Indiana. Francis was running on no sleep after working the entire night before. His inability to sleep in the car meant that once the tournament started, Francis had been awake for 24 hours…And we were just about to start a full day of polo in the sun.

The challenge was issued.

As we did a little pre-tournament prep work, I saw a guy from Columbus, OH that I remembered from a tournament in Lexington, KY earlier this year. The guy’s name was Peter, and I knew that if we wanted to win the tournament, our St. Louis team was going to have to go through Peter and his teammates.

As Evan, Francis, and I rolled around one of the rinks and attempted to warm up our shooting, Evan rolled through a wet, muddy slick spot on the rink and fell hard. The tournament hadn’t even started yet, and Evan had already set the bar pretty high in the “Best Crash” competition. Evan jacked his hand and got his Hood Kicks shirt dirty.

Would Evan be able to shake off an injury?

Would Francis’ lack of sleep make him bonk in the middle of the day?

We were about to find out.

Our first game pitted us (Dignified Gentlemen) against a young team from Decatur, IL. We swore that we wouldn’t underestimate any team in the tournament, so at the cry of “3…2…1…Polo”, Francis and I were off, looking for blood and goals. We were too much to handle, and Dignified Gentlemen jumped out to an early lead. I took a seat in goal and let Evan and Francis do the hard work. The score was 5-0 in a matter of minutes.

Our second game was foreshadowing of things to come. We were pitted against Columbus, and things got wild. At one point, I was sitting in goal watching Francis racing against one of Columbus’ players. Francis was peddling so frantically, his left foot slipped off the pedal and violently kicked the Columbus player’s bike. The guy screamed out, “Don’t kick my bike!” On the other side of the rink, it sounded like he said, “Don’t hit my bike.” He looked angry, and I thought we were about to be in the middle of a fight. I yelled out, “It’s f*cking bike polo!” Francis apologized, calmly explained the accident, and cooler heads prevailed. The rest of the game was a blur, but it ended with a 5-2 victory for the Dignified Gentlemen.

Our third game was against Electric Wizards…Bloomington’s “A” team that day. Thanks to a blistering pace from Francis, we left the rink with a 5-1 victory and watched as an exhausted Zach puked in the corner. As Zach puked, I thought, “Yeah, we made THAT happen.”


The fourth tame was against another Bloomington team. It was a pretty easy victory. I’m pretty sure Francis scored at least four of the goals. My favorite part of the game (maybe the tournament) was when a guy named Travis stole the ball and had a clear break towards the goal on the left wing. I felt like we had just screwed Evan and hung him out to dry all alone. I refused to let anyone have an unchallenged shot on goal, so I cranked my pedals. I raced down and across the rink, locked up my rear wheel, whipped my bike sideways, slid into Travis wheel to wheel, and stuffed his shot. It was the perfect bike polo check. They don’t get cleaner. They don’t get much harder. I took the ball, continued the play, and listened to everyone hum over that play. After the game, I apologized to Travis about the check. I honestly didn’t want to run into him that hard. His response was perfect, “No way man! That was awesome. I love a good check!” He instantly earned my respect. We need more people like Travis in Bike Polo.

The last game of the Swiss Rounds was 100% “The Francis Show.” According to the text updates that I was sending Nick, Francis scored four goals. I don’t even think they had a good, uncontested shot.

Once the double-elimination tournament started, things were falling into place. We were eating smart, resting well, and staying hydrated. Our first game in the bracket turned out to be a bye, so we jumped to the next round and faced the Electric Wizards again. At the very beginning of the game, Evan from Bloomington unleashed a lazer that would’ve made Nick Knobbe proud. It nearly burned a hole in the back of the net. For the first time that day, we were trailing in a game. It was 1-0, and we weren’t going to stand for that. Nothing was said, Francis and I just found another gear to shift into. At the end of the game it was 5-1 in favor of the Dignified Gentlemen. Bloomington had one shot…One goal.

After that game, we played Ft. Wayne. I’m almost positive they didn’t register a single shot. We were firing on all cylinders. We came out with guns blazing. We didn’t know anything about Ft. Wayne, we could taste the finals, and we didn’t want to give up our first elimination. So we came out looking to kill. We probably came out way too strong, but “too strong” trumps “too weak” any day in my opinion.

The Semifinals pitted us against a team from Indianapolis. The highlight of the game was one of the Indy guys saying, “You guys are like Iceland from ‘The Mighty Ducks’” as he restarted the game after a Dignified Gentlemen goal. We were cruising and on our way to the finals.

After an uncharacteristic loss to Decatur, Columbus spent the late hours of the afternoon fighting their way out of the losers’ bracket. We rested in the shade as they played two tough back-to-back games in an attempt to meet us in the finals. Our successful, undefeated streak throughout the day really paved the way for lost of rest and time in the shade.

Columbus broke Bloomington’s heart in sudden death, and stepped into the finals with the purple shirts from St. Louis. This was the finals I anticipated the moment I saw Columbus arrive that morning. Days earlier, Zach from Bloomington had placed bets on these two teams being in the finals and STL winning.

Who were we to disappoint?

Everyone lined the fences. The last match of the game was about to begin. Behind the goal, I gave Evan and Francis the pre-game speech I said before every game we played that day: “Play smart. Work hard. Have fun. Let’s make Andrew W.K. proud. Let’s make St. Louis proud. I want to give Nick a good new text update after this game.”

Zach yelled, “3..2..1..Polo” and we were off. If memory serves me right, I got the joust, sprinted towards the goal, and executed a precise “Ben Shot” to take the early lead. From then on, most of the game was a blur. I remember racing everywhere and fighting off some full-sprint, shoulder-to-shoulder screens from Peter. I thought we racked up a quick 3-0 lead before Columbus got their first goal. That goal was allowed by me when the few goalie skills I have evaporated on a Columbus breakaway. I was momentarily mad at myself for the mental mistake and vowed to make up for it. Unfortunately, when I took it up looking for revenge, I made a pathetic pass to Francis that was intercepted and taken down the rink for a good scoring opportunity. Luckily, Evan stood tall in goal and denied the potential momentum swing.

Moments after that save, I redeemed myself with a cheeky little goal that padded our lead a bit more. After a wide-right shot, I raced to the left side of the goal, stopped, pulled the ball from behind the goal back in front, and tucked it into the goalie’s back door. I couldn’t help but smile on the slow ride back to our end. I was certain that it was now 4-1, and we were one goal away from a 1st place finish.

On the ensuing attack, Evan made a great save and jumped from his position in goal. Francis got the rebound and with a simple touch, put the ball in Evan's path. Evan just had to take it the length of the rink. And that’s what he did.

I screamed out, “EVAN, WIN THE GAME!”

He was gone. Hammering his pedals. He got down to the other end, locked up his rear wheel, skidded sideways, and easily tucked the ball into the goal.

I was thrilled.

I was about to tackle Evan, but Columbus protested. They insisted that was only the 4th goal. Most of the game was a blur to me, so I couldn’t recall goals to refute their claims. Annoyed that they just stole the title of “Tournament Winning Goal” from Evan, I shouted, “That’s fine. We’ll beat you again.”

That was probably a cocky, asshole thing to say. Something below the polite, Dignified Gentlemen. I tried to be polite and humble the entire day. For the brief moment, where I went from ecstatic for Evan to annoyed about people’s (including my own) inability to keep track of the score, this Dignified Gentleman was anything but.

We played on. It was Columbus’ ball. They carried the ball into our end and spanked a shot into our goal. It was time to end this.

A few missed chances left Francis and me wanting in the attacking end. It wasn’t until the ball got stuck in the corner of the rink that fate began to solidify our place in that moment of time. I was nosed into the corner and wasn’t going to be able to cleanly escape with the ball. The two attacking Columbus players inched towards me waiting for a mistake. I grabbed the fence, cupped the ball on my opposite side, and looked up to see Francis camped out in front of the net. A simple balljoint pass went directly into the Tides where Francis had all the time in the world to bury the (second) tournament winning goal. With a gentle swing and a well placed shot, we were champions!

(Evan's face in this photo is amazing!)

After the trophy presentations, we hit the kicker ramp, set off fireworks, and blasted Andrew W.K. as we loaded our gear into the car and danced around our trophy.

That night we partied hard and witnessed things we’ll probably never be able to put into words.

In the early morning hours, we all slept in the same room and dreamed of our amazing day as the air conditioner hummed above our heads."

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

So why am i reprinting Ben's words and not yours? This...


...no, not my shoddy craftmanship, i'm talking about Ben's mad skill. There were quite a few good players at that tournament, yet he stood head and shoulders about the rest. It wasn't all skill too. I think you can tell from his writing that this guy has a positive approach to polo that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He didn't come to Bloomington in search of cheers and a free wheelset (though that's what he got ;) He came to help build the skill and confidence of his younger polo-brothers.

I really can't say enough about St.Louis bike polo. These guys embodied everything this tournament was about- serious polo, making friends, moving up the ladder, and generally expanding the game for all parties involved. Part of me knew these guys would win all along, but that's not to say they didn't fight tooth and nail for their rightful place. In STLWK's stead Francis has become a slayer, well, maybe not a slayer, but a damn good player! Good guys like Lucky and Lee have been "showing me the light" for a while now, and i'm even more excited that now our clubs have a bit of overlap and camaraderie. Midwest polo is where it's at! Body checks, cheap beer, uber friendly people, the best custom heads in the world, the lack of gentry and pretension that comes with the coasts... i fucking love it here.

Alright, enough rambling. I gotta get back to the World Cup and making more mallets ;)

-W.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Young Guns" final match - St.Louis vs. Columbus


Good polo and good times! Many thanks and high fives to everyone who played, helped, spectated, and partied. For those of you who weren't there here's a lo-fi video of the final match. Congrats to Francis, Evan, and Ben from St.Louis! Also a great job by Fletcher, Peter, and Brian from Columbus, who boys had to play 5 games in a row on there way to the finals!

Much more to come :) once i recover from heat exhaustion :(

-W.

Oh yeah, i almost forgot this little ditty...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Indiana Invitational - June 19th, 2010

Bloomington Bike Polo
proudly presents
the first ever bike polo tournament in
the Great State of Indiana


Well folks, it's almost time! Travis, Kyle, Donnie, Jordan and I have been working around the clock to make this tournament happen. Swiss rounds (at least 4), double elimination, a huge after party, teams from 6 states, two days of pickup, and a crazy awesome trophy are all in store. This is gonna be one helluva weekend!

Please support our veritable sponsors!

St. Cago Poloworks
Auris Apothecary
Revolution Bikeshop
Velocity USA , blog
et al. anon.

See y'all for pickup on Friday and deluge begins on Saturday!

-W.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

French Hardcourt Championships


The French Championships happened a couple weeks ago and i finally ran across some photos from it. Read about it here and see the photos here. I really wish I could actually see some European polo in person! They seem to play a very different style then we do here in the states (or at least the Midwest) but I want to find out firsthand. Anyone got a spare ticket to Berlin?


Les champions! Apologies Accepted (Paris)





Final Results:
1. Apologies Accepted (Paris)
2. MGM (Paris)
3. Rolling hoods (Grenoble)
4. Dans ta gueule Puceau (Paris)
5. D.B.A.A. (Rouen)
6. Poloccitan (Toulouse)
7. Broken Legs (Rouen)
8. Marteaux (Paris)
*the top 4 teams qualify for Worlds by placing*

Now let's see how these guys do against American slayers like the Beaver Boys ;)

-W.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Italian Championship trophy construction

IHBPC il trofeo from romabikepolo on Vimeo.


It's long but neat. Note the sped up Michael Jackson around 13:00.

I hope our trophy for the INvitational turns out as good!

-W.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Team photos from Midwesterns








Check out the whole photoset at Sven's flick and while your at it check out the photographer Christopher Berg's site. He was a nice guy and it was great of him to donate his time to photograph all the teams.



I love the "team photo" idea. It helps you remember who played with who in addition to creating a little momento of the tourament... especially if you placed 25th and took home zero prizes :)

-W.

Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup!!!

Oh sweet relief! I've been following the Blackhawks all year thinking "this is the year". Well guess what, Lord Stanley's Cup has finally returned to the Windy City! I hate that it had to end in Philly but a win is a win. Kane's overtime goal was kind of anti-climactic, but the players (and fans) knew what had happened and the silence was deafening.


Way to go buddy! You deserve it.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday night at Major Taylor Velodrome


What a night! My first visit to Indy's track and Rinzin's first night of real racing. It was great to see Shawn and Richard there too (even if the license-less Wolf couldn't race). There's something sad yet beautiful about that track. Built in 1982 the velodrome appears slightly neglected and stuck in the era, but then you see 13 year old kids and Bianchi Concepts flying around the track and you can't help but smile.

the bank

view from above

ascending spectator

the kid builds a lead

young guns

the veteran leaves through the tunnel


Also, I finally got flickr account to help share the load of these giant photo sets...

So yeah, i'll be going back up there soon, hopefully with a bike this time. Thanks to Rinzin for letting me ride along, Nick for letting me borrow his fancy camera, and Richard for showing how it's done. I think i'm actually starting to like Indy. Just a little bit though.

-W.


Did I mention there's also a skatepark next to the track?! Sweet.