A little while ago Horse Invited me to travel down to Richmond, Virginny, for a big pickup day between multiple clubs (I honestly can’t remember all of them, but I want to say it was Lancaster, DC, RVA, and Charlottesville, maybe?). Naturally I was up for it as an irresponsible escape from completing my thesis for the MFA, so I signed on to travel with my fellows:
The pickup day was Sunday, which was fortunate as I received my new mallet stuff to test from Fixcraft on Friday and I had all of Saturday to walk around the house with it, frightening the cat. On Sunday I woke up around 5:30, put on my polo outfit (something off the shoulder, you know, for the boys), and went to pick up Horse.
We were supposed to meet Irish at Cycleworks at 7 AM sharp, so naturally Horse slept in until I was at his doorstep and stumbled onto the sidewalk with little knowledge as to what was actually happening. AND THEN WE WERE OFF!
…to Sheetz to get some breakfast. We agreed that if Irish wanted to stop somewhere, we’d just tell him we hadn’t eaten and then eat again. Ah, the joys of being big.
So we met up with Irish, loaded his Suburban, picked up Yeager, and were off. We stopped at a rest stop which had Ice cream and Red Bull, so I got that too, because go to hell, that’s why.
And then we looked, just casually, at the radar.
Oh damn. Damn damn double damn.
We talked about going back, about just going to DC, about how we should have checked the radar before we left why they hell can’t the weatherman just tell us the truth? While most of this was going on, I was editing my manuscript and trying to ignore the crying coming from the front seat.
However, once we arrived, it only drizzled enough to cool us down, and that was pretty awesome. Plenty of people showed up, and it felt kinda like a really laid back tourney. There were some soul-crushing games (where I did nothing but make noises and watched the ball go through my five hole), and there were some were I managed to actually do very well for myself. Here were the lessons I took away:
Hold Your Ground: at first I was intimidated by playing against teams made up of players I just knew were better than me – but after playing for a few hours, that fear left and was replaced by a sort of “the dude abides” mentality. That’s when things got fun. I didn’t win more or anything like that, but I had more fun and made smarter plays. I’m going to hold on to that mindset for sure.
The Very Best Players Are Generally Really Nice: I thought that Pierre (who is one of the best players I’ve ever had on my team) was just nice because he was French and out of his element, but at the pickup day, I had the opportunity to play with Nick Vaughn, who I am amazingly intimidated by. He started our pickup game by shaking my hand and asking me to introduce myself. After that he introduced himself, said “let’s have some fun, huh?” and then proceeded to pass, apologize, and set up plays for Irish and myself. It was just a great amount of fun and a great “feeling” atmosphere for watching a world class player tone himself to match who he was playing with. I know you can’t base a whole man’s character off of one interaction, but I was really impressed with how easy going he was, and how he made it a point to make the game fun for me as a less-skilled player.
On the other hand, Pierre and I have known eachother for a while now, and he did pretty much the same thing but by being really funny. He played tough, but was laughing and joking around the whole time (ok, he may have been laughing at me and not with me, but if you know Pierre you know that probably isn’t the case).
Same goes for Daniels, Sprinks, hell, really all the RVA guys are pretty laid back when it comes to just playing around. I was overly impressed with how the better players were being friendly, even when they were stacked up with team that could have resulted in a boring game for them.
Five Hours of continuous polo is awesome: sore as hell the next day? Sure I was—but man that’s a lot of polo, and I was pretty amped on that.
Travelling is the key to gut-check your skills: In my own club I’m bordering between a low A and a high B player. At this pickup day, I was lucky if I was a low B to a high C. Travelling gives you a great idea of how you fit into bike polo as a whole, what you need to work on, and what you’re doing well. Just start travelling, folks. Just do it.
It’s possible to do Thesis edits while smelling like a rotting onion: Yup, after a full day of play I managed, by the meager light of the Suburban overhead, to complete my manuscript edits. Whoo hahh!
And that is that. A great day of play with pictures soon to follow (I left the camera in my polo bag, so maybe tomorrow or later today I’ll post some of what I captured while there).