Archive for Interviews

Everything You Never Wanted to Know: Interview with Crusher.

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“When there’s nothing left to burn, you must set yourself on fire.”

Or, alternately, when you haven’t anyone to interview, you should just do a little one on yourself. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Crusher is the editor and workhorse of Lancasterpolo.com and a club member of Lancaster United Bike Polo. He sat down as me to conduct this interview. We discussed playing versus understanding the sport, his rise to interweb fame, and the dangers of split personality disorders.

Tell me about your set up (bike, equipment, etc):

DSC_0543Wellsir, I currently roll around on a prototype V1 Fixcraft frame and fork, with Ryno Lite 26″ rims and RiBMo tires. Oury grips, Profile chainring, White Freewheel.

As far as my mallets go, I currently have a fixcraft Unibody Head attached to one of those new LT shafts (via a cleat, which I’m excited about seeing out on the market), an ARC mallet head attached to an old Fixcraft XT, A MILK head attached to an Arena Creamy shaft, and an Arena head attached to an Arena Creamy Shaft.

Everything outside of that is pretty boring. Oh, platform pedals. That’s exciting, right?

When did you start playing bike polo, and where.

LUBPI started playing bike polo in October of 2011, and I’ve always played for Lancaster United (of course, back then we didn’t have many York players and we were called Lancaster City Bike Polo). As I’ve said before on this blog, it was Horse that got me started in this whole mess, but it was the club that kept me coming back for more. It’s a good thing.

What has changed from the first time you started playing to now?

Do you mean for myself, my club, or the sport in general?

All of them,  I guess.

That was kinda a shitty interview question, don’t you think?

I guess…

Not very specific, I mean.

Yeah.

Well, anyway: asking how a player has changed from the first time they played to where they are now is kinda silly. Hopefully the answer is “quite a lot.” For one thing, I’m not rolling around on a bike from the sixties. Before playing bike polo, I hadn’t been on a bike at all since I was fifteen or so. As you can expect, my bike handling is steadily improving with time. I’m not nearly so violent on the bike now, either, as I think can be said about the majority of Lancaster United and the sport in general.

Lancaster United Bike Polo 25My club has changed dramatically: we have a pretty even mix of Lancastrians and Yorkers playing, with about 12-14 people coming out on the biggest days. We’ve secured two tennis courts to play on in the city (though we never do), and have a pretty good relationship with the hockey players of an outdoor rink between York and Lancaster, which we used for the Keystone Classic and for most every pickup day. We as a club are trying to be more active in the sport at large, and as such are hosting the 2014 Eastside regional qualifiers. So there.

The sport, looking at it as a whole, has changed to be a bit more regulated and a bit more intense, I think. Not more brutal – but intense. Skill is winning out against power and there are more “big name” players in the sport. Companies are springing up everywhere to make equipment, and more people who don’t play are at least mildly aware of the sport. That’s kinda fun.

So tell me about the blog: how did it get started, and how did it get to where it is now?

The blog started out of a meeting Lancaster polo players had at a local watering hole. We were talking about how to move or club forward, and people were making really great suggestions on outreach, securing areas to play, etc.

crusherI really didn’t have anything to contribute, as I was a general miscreant and not very useful. So, semi-drunkenly, I blurted out “I’ll start a blog and stuffffffffffffff” and I kept making that “f” noise until someone slapped me.

On the walk back to my house, fighting against the small blizzard that hit Lancaster that night, I realized what a horrible mistake I made.

So I avoided it until the other Lancaster guys got angry at me, then I went ahead and just started posting stuff: jokes at other players, tips about playing, and whatever else popped into my head.

After about a year, I noticed that we were getting more visitors from out of Lancaster than from within it. After two years I noticed we were getting worldwide attention on the blog. Thus ended my hope of operating it for just long enough that I could slink away from it and nobody would be the wiser.

Sounds like you really don’t like it.

That’s an outright lie, and you’re trying to turn the people against me. I do love the blog and how much people seem to like it. It takes a lot of time, sure, but how better to spend time than talking about the sport.

I think the part I like the most is simply that I have been able to be really opinionated without people losing their minds. I think the readership understands that the majority of articles are based around opinion (not hard facts), and that works well for both of us.

You receive a fair amount of products to review for free – doesn’t that kinda make you careful about how you review them. Read more

Interview With The Organizer: Alias Seiichi Tagami, Eastside Thaw

Eastside Thaw  (2)

Alias, in between preparing for the tourney(s) this weekend and murdering people with is mind, managed to sit down at his computer and allow me to interview him. He talks about how he came about coming up with the inventive structure, challenges he faced, an the rewards that come with that effort.

Totes wrote that in Terri Gross’ voice, btw.

Eastside Thaw – when did you decide to have this event? 

Foremost, The Thaw is largely inspired by Polo Camp.  DC Bike Polo has hosted a social tournament twice before at the nearby Frederick, MD courts.  Polo Camp II was my first tournament experience, and first time meeting players from other clubs.  The experience was very positive for me.

 I wanted to recreate that feeling for others.Eastside Thaw  (5)Next, there was a comment from a newer member of our club who asked if there are bike polo clinics.  As I said there wasn’t, I thought to myself, “why aren’t there any?” Part of what I knew I wanted to create was a educational experience for new players to get paired with more experienced and skilled players who could demonstrate polo in a less pick-up mentality and more of a competitive mentality.

Lastly, I had noticed a theme in many posts from polo friends in other clubs.  Lots of people expressed that their clubs suffer from low numbers and loss of morale in the winter.  I saw a need for an early spring event to kick-start the polo season and raise spirits.

Eastside Thaw  (6)I added “Eastside” to the name because I wanted to do something to regionally make the Eastside stronger.  Also, if the event proves successful, I hope for it to be culturally adopted into the annual cycle for the region.  In my mind, the Eastside event calendar begins with the Thaw, and ends with Turducken.  Rince.  Repeat.

By time I attended the Keystone Classic and Turducken in 2012, I had talked to enough people from other clubs, and the response was positive enough that I felt like I had a green light.

You’re doing it outside of your club, right (it’s a 1 man show) – how hard is that so far? 

I deserve every bit of hardship I’ve put on myself here.  It is incorrect that I’ve done it all by myself.  Many critical components of the Thaw were handled by members of DC Bike Polo.  This is my baby, and I’ve obsessed over it for months now.  It has been hard, but I did it to myself. 

Tell me about the days setup and what you think you’ve done that’s inventive.

The Thaw is actually two tournaments for starters.  Because of this, it also meant that players could elect to only play on one of the days without messing up the roster.

Eastside Thaw  (1)Saturday is a “Shuffle deck 3v3″ tournament.  The 72 player roster was sorted into three skill groups of 24 people.  Each team will have a player from each group making the playing field more competitive horizontally.  Each team will have strengths and weaknesses.  Players will check in and draw a card.  That card will determine their team, so I’ve left it to chance–I didn’t want to try and engineer the outcome.  We’ll be playing several swiss rounds, then playing a single elimination bracket.  Stats for individual players are significant because they will determine who are the team captains for day two.

Before we rush off to day two, we return to DC and have a big house party in the heart of the district.  No survivors.Sunday is a “Schoolyard Bench” tournament.  The 8 players that became team captains on day one will do a player draft, and all players will arrive knowing what team they are on.  There will be one pre-bracket match to get to know your team, and then the teams will fight it out in a double elimination bracket.

The Thaw will use NAH rules with two caveats:
1 – 3v3 matches will be 10 minutes long, and have no score cap.
2 – 6′ x 4′ goals will be used.

You billed this as a new-player friendly tourney – why is that important to you?  Read more

Horse is an Eastside Rep!

horse

So happy to say that, after a THRILLING and HEATED battle of entrants, our own Horse J. Krofcheck has been elected as an Eastside rep for the NAH. I asked him a few questions about his new position:

 

 

 

So, You’re an Eastside rep now – what are your duties? 

Poems by Horse

The east side rep position is three pronged.   Pierre, Sprinks, and myself will split up positions of NAH Board, Outreach, and Tournaments.   All of these positions aim to make sure the East Side Regions needs, wants, and opinions are heard by the committee.  We’ll help develop the tourney schedule, as well as non-NAH tourney development, help new clubs get started, work on sponsorship outreach, and keep the East Side clubs happy and smiling.
How did you come to the decision to become a rep?
 
The decision to become a rep was based on need.   All three of our current reps had decided to step down after doing a fantastic job, and an important job.   The positions needed filled, and I’m happy to be on board and able to help.   Pierre and Sprinks are both awesome guys and I’m happy to be working with them.
 
What do you hope to accomplish? 

ESPIs Seven 2012 (44)

The list of hopeful accomplishments is long.   I need to get my feet wet before I can figure out whats realistic and whats not.   I’m going to be a strong supporter of any kind of Reffing structure that comes up.  We need to start somewhere on that, because what we have isn’t cutting it.   I’d also like to see how we can make hosting a tournament less of a burden on the host city/club.  I’m not sure what angle we can take on that, but its worth discussing.   Otherwise, I’m just open to hearing what people want and seeing what we can do to make it happen.
 
 
What will be your first tyrannical rule? 

Nothing.  Just trying my damnest to make sure polo stays as awesome as it is.

(Editor’s note: ^I line him up for some humor and he comes back with boy scout earnestness. What a jerk)

 

 

THANK YOU to our new reps – you’re helping our sport move forward and I wish you the best of luck during your appointment. Expect an email from me, Pierre and Sprinks. I wanna getta know ‘cha.

Interview with Rob Biddle, Lancaster Polo Renaming Contest Winner

1. You won! How Does it Feel?

KEYSTONE1Thanks, it feels great.  Since you’re forcing me to quantify the satisfaction I felt upon learning I won, lets say its equal to taking my first sip of coffee for the day.

2. How did you come up with the idea for the name (which was, so we all remember, to not change the name?)

Listen, I’ve tried to name MANY things before, its an awful exercise to undertake,  I named my last team for North Americans after the OKCupid profile of a guy who was messaging my ex-girlfriend.  Your moderately widely read blog already had a name, so why put yourself through that torture.

3. That’s about as far as I want to go with the contest – tell me a little bit about your setup (bike, equipment, etc.)

RB BIKEI went back to playing on my first polo frame, a Mercier Kilo TT after my All City Dropout was stolen at the East Side Qualifier in 2012.  My current set up is significantly lighter, feels more responsive, and has a smaller five hole than the drop out, so maybe it was for the best.  When i switched bikes i also dropped my handlebars about 2 inches – I found that greatly improved my accuracy.
I’ve been playing with the 2 3/8″ lathed out white stuff for a while.  It certainly doesn’t have the same pop as a TPL cap, but its readily available and makes mallet building easier.
4. Have you always played for Philly’s club?  Read more

Completely Fake Interview with Lumberjack – Speaker for Trees

Lancaster Bike Polo (74)As you know, I enjoy interviewing polo players and getting their perspectives on our goofy little sport. Naturally this leads to me begging lots of people to give me an hour of their time to answer my simple, Cosmopolitan style questions.

So far, not a single person has turned me down, but that all changed last week when I innocently asked Lumberjack if I could interview him for the blog.

He said no.

When I asked him why, he made a “I just ate a whole lemon” face and shook his head. I think that means something, but I don’t speak the language of the woodland realm, so I’m not sure.

But he did give me permission to falsify the interview, so – without further ado:

Lumberjack, thank you so much for doing this interview with me – my first question: what is your current setup on your bike/equipment?

I am currently riding the Fixcraft Prototype bike with a bunch of parts that help make it move.

Could you be more specific?

No.

Alright then. When did you start playing bike polo?

Keystone Cup 2012 (550)I played bike polo before you were born, but when I did that it was on grass and we actually had to try to pedal a bit more. Now we’re playing it on the hardcourt and it’s much easier. I started playing with Lancaster’s players a few years ago. I’ve been playing with your fools ever since.

What’s your favorite part of bike polo?

Ignoring questions like that.

What’s you’re least favorite part? Read more

Interview with Sabrina, Our Newest Player

I chose this picture so you guys can see just how BA I am when I'm on my feet and not a bike. Plus my bicep isn't even flexed but since we are playing in the winter, I wanted you to see what's behind my "big ripping high speed polo shots" as Hollenbach calls it. Also because Ted may have taken it and who knew at that point he'd drag me into polo. Watch your backs fellas :)

Sabrina came to Lancaster United as a general unknown – she knows Ted, but that was about it. Even so, she jumped in with both feet and is progressing nicely. She’s already got the shit talking down, and that’s kindof the most important element of bike polo, right? 

You’re the newest player for Lancaster United, and that’s kindof awesome. How did you find out about us?

I’m not really sure. Actually that’s a lie. I think I was stalking Ted Houser’s facebook pictures on a boring night. Yes, I blame Ted.

What were your first impressions before playing your first game?

It looked like a lot of fun. I was excited, but scared that you guys were going to crash into me a lot and I’d fall off my bike a lot. I also thought that I would be really bad and never touch the ball.

What were they afterward?

It was more fun than I thought, and it’s not as scary (probably because I was playing little kids)! I definitely wanted to come back again.

You’re also the first female member of our club – how’s that going for you? Read more

Interview with Kyle Ciccocioppo, Lancaster City Bike Polo Godfather

The Indifferent Panda

Kyle is the guy who started bike polo in Lancaster, PA. He was the first guy to give me my own mallet, the first guy to talk to me about the higher points of bike polo play, and the first guy to horrify me on the court with his skill and salty mouth. I am honored to have the chance to interview him for Lancaster polo. So, without further bro-loving: 

How did you get started in Bike Polo?

Not sure exactly how I caught wind of polo to be honest, but I remember reading about it via the web back in 2008.  It looked fun and I wanted to try it, only problem was you I needed more people that were interested.  So I put up some fliers and tried to get the word out locally.  It took a lot of patience just like anything else worth waiting for. Long story short; eventually people took interest. And here we are today.

What is your Current Rig? 

Currently riding a Milwaukee Bruiser (Thanks to Brad @ Urban Velo). Fixed 36/20, front 990 brake, Sinz 160 cranks with Burro straps on animal pedals. Concor saddle on a truvativ seat post, all rollin’ on Velocity 32spk Deep-v’s with Ribmo 32 tires.

How have you seen the club grow since you started? Did you expect it to become what it is today?

To be honest, I knew the club would be where it is today. We had some rough times coming up with six, but more people took interest and the numbers have grown since.  Some players no longer play that were with it from the beginning and most are, and I thank you for never giving up on a sport that will now be around ‘til the end of man/woman-kind (hopefully).

What makes a perfect Mallet? Read more

Interview With Evan Cromer of Indianapolis Bike Polo

So you you remember when I had that caption contest a while back? No? Well then…awkward…Anyway – Evan Cromer won the caption contest and as such had the great fortune of being interviewed by me (stop laughing).

 

Tell me a little about Indiana bike polo – how was it organized, how long have you played?

 

Indianapolis Bike Polo began in 2008, originally playing under Highway bridges downtown, and randomly using tennis courts around the city as well.  I began playing in 2009 after hearing about it from a friend of mine, Keith Cruz, who started Indy’s club.  Kieth and I have worked with the Indianapolis Parks department over the past few years to secure a permanent location for our club: an underused set of tennis courts just north of downtown Indy.  The courts were resurfaced and painted specifically for bike polo, and we have since built 4ft walls this year.  
This is Indiana’s first permanent polo court but not our last.  I think it is also important to note that we have also formed the Indiana Bicycle Polo Cooperative, founded in 2010.  We have five cities that are currently included in the CO-OP, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Muncie, and Bloomington.  The purpose for the CO-OP is to ensure that each city has the resources and insurance to approach their own parks departments, to inquire about securing their own places to play.  By using each city as part of the same club, we are able to use the same insurance policy, which helps keep costs low, and legitimizes our cause.
 

What’s your current bike polo setup (bike, equipment, etc). 

 
Frame & Fork:  Marino 58cm
Headset: Chris King
Wheels: Surly polo hubs laced to Salsa Gordo’s, panracer ribmos 1.5″
Brakes: TRP M920 Linear Pulls with a custom Avid dual pull lever
Seatpost: Thomson
Stem and bar: TruVativ T30 alloy stem with a TruVativ T40 carbon straight bar
Gearing:  35X22 MKE polo chainring mated to a cheap ACS freewheel
Pedals: XTR clipless
Mallet:  MKE pole(43″ long) to a UHMW head (4 1/2″ in length)
Protective gear: LAS road Helmet and lacrosse gloves
 

What position do you play the most?  Read more

Interview with Fixcraft’s Sean Ingram: Hell Yes!

I’m pretty excited any time I get someone who’s willing to do an interview for this site, but I kinda have a guy crush on Sean and have been nervous to ask him for an interview. But lo and behold, it took one email and the dude was all about it. The interview covers his involvement with the sport, how Fixcraft became the name (my words, not his) in bike polo, and where he plans to go from here.

 

Give me a little bit about your backstory and bio (when did you start playing, when did you start making equipment?)

I discovered Hardcourt about 4 years ago really because they were doing it down the street from the house I lived at at the time.  My family was going through this kinda weird thing where we were pushed out of a church and they were playing on Sundays.
So I started showing up since I was looking for something to do with guys my age.  I called it bike church.  I was instantly hooked and started showing up 2 or 3 times a week.  This is cool if you are single, but I’m a family man with 4 kids so I was kinda blowing it by taking it too far.
I did the whole rigmarole you read about, search thrift stores, flea markets, etc for ski poles to make my shit.  Spent hundreds at 1/8″ to get my scrambler all set up.  I could only find 1 pair of used poles, it’s Kansas so they just aren’t available here. My day job is production at a merchandise company and I had a connection to get some poles done so I just kinda went for it since it wasn’t a bunch of money.  We got in like 200 black poles and I made some stickers or whatever.  Came up with the name “Fixcraft” by smashing the idea of fixing your stuff and the DIY ethic of “craft” into one word. I didn’t take it too serious.  We were really surprised how fast the poles were selling and I just kept putting the money back into it.
So the Fixcraft thing really happened shortly after I started playing because we wanted poles to play with at a cheap price.  Keep in mind, it was only 2 years ago that most of the polo world couldn’t believe that MKE came out with a clean shaft for people to play, wasn’t DIY enough.  I think even wired.com did an article about it too.  I bought one of those shafts and it’s a good product but I thought that $15.00 was too rich too at the time. So we just did a small run to sell a few and get our own shafts for cost.  Was a good plan, we used to do the same thing with Dischord vinyl in the early 90’s, pool all our money together, get them for wholesale. In retrospect, $15
is not expensive for a quality shaft, I don’t know what I was thinking, MKE was totally on point.

What drove you to start Fixcraft? Did you see on opportunity or was it just that you were tired of not having the equipment you wanted? Read more

Interview with Virginia Castellan of GOALHOLE and Sydney Bike Polo

I recently tricked  asked Virginia Castellan into doing an interview for this site and she was kind enough to fall for it  agree. I love what She and the Australian crew is doing with GOALHOLE and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to learn more about polo on the continent and how I can summarily steal all the publishing ideas of a site that’s better than my own  she does such a great job with the website.

 Tell me about your polo setup (your equipment, your bike, etc.)

After playing for a few years on a frame I found on the street, I decided to upgrade about 8 months ago and get a Hija de la Coneja.  This has been my best polo purchase ever. It’s a freewheel with 26 inch wheels, v-brakes and a Paul duplex lever.  It has the tiniest turning circle.  I love it!  I wear a Bern helmet, 661 knee pads and shoes, a Franklin glove on my shooting hand and a Fox glove on my brake hand. My current mallets are MKE shafts with the red MKE heads. They need to be re-headed or replaced very soon.  I am really slack at mallet maintenance.

How long have you been playing? Has it always been with the same club? 

I’ve been playing for 4 years.  I have always played in Sydney although I often think about moving to Brisbane.

How did Bike Polo develop in Australia?  Read more