Archive for Interviews

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

Interview with Ann Silver – Bike Polo Gypsy

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Silver during the Hoedown Throwdown in Ashville earlier this year. We talked about her experiences in bike polo, how different areas of the country play polo differently, and what she thought about the female players of the sport.

 

So what’s your current polo setup (bike, equipment, everything)?

 

I have a Bern Helmet that is almost done, a Milwaukee Bruiser frame and fork, mixed up Velocity and Weinmann wheel set, Squarebuilt handlebars, some crazy ass bmx stem that’s just like a big block of metal, Soma saddle and that’s like all the important stuff.

How did you start playing? Where do you play now, where did you play before?

I have played all over the place, I started playing in Savannah, when the club started up. I played there for maybe a year and then moved back to Asheville. I tried to start playing here but nobody really got into it, so I started playing grass polo here for a few months. Then I moved to Richmond and played with them for seven months and then found myself in New York City and played with them for 6 months.

Then I moved back down to Asheville and met up with Jackson, who moved up here from Florida in the time that I was gone, and he started a club up here.

What style would you say you have? Aggressive, defensive, goalie?

Honestly, growing up playing sports I was always the defensive kind of player but now I’m very forward – I like scoring goals, I like being in people’s faces. I think I have the Southeast kind of laid back style still, but the Northeast I’m-going-to-be-an-asshole, getting mad kinda thing. I think that’s my style, I’m a mix of all the East Coast cities.

I have regretfully not interviewed many women for polo, and I was curious about how polo, as a mix gender sport – which is great – how do you think polo has modified itself or made itself fit for the ladies playing the sport? Read more

Interview with Trace, Bike Polo Man-o-Might

Trace is someone who’s been playing longer than I have, and as you may know, was the first fellow I hurt on the court. After learning that he was literally one of the nicest human beings on the earth, I felt as if my damaging of his body/bike was a hollow victory.

But it was a victory, dear reader.

You’ve already shared how you got started in polo (which you can read here), but what keeps you playing?

I really do not like ‘organized’ sports. One could argue that bicycle polo is not an organized sport, and I say, all the better. On a more visceral level, the adrenalin rush of sprinting for a loose ball, banging someone into the boards, and finding that impossible angle to put the ball in the net just can’t be found anywhere else. Oh yeah, and LUBP is a stupendous group of bicycle freaks.

 What’s your current setup (Frame, gagetry, mallet, equipment, etc). 

Steel Windsor El Cheapo single speed frame with an aluminum ‘cross fork and front linear pull brakes. 18t  freewheel x 33t chainring. 48 hole Eigth-Inch Julians. Selle Italia Turbo saddle from the ‘80’s (my first love). Go to mallet is a ski pole with a St. Cago capped head.

You are often seen sporting a chest protector – what happened there? Read more

Oh Captain, My Captain!

(written by Barry Rauhauser)

So why do I get to write this guest post on the Lancaster United Bike Polo
blog?  After all, I haven’t played the stoopid game in months…and even
when I do play, I am never very good (I fall down often and
spectacularly).  I’m old….though not as old as Hollenbach&Oates.  I’ve
never been to any of the regional matches.  I’ve been playing for almost a
year and still can’t understand half of what Kyle says (How the hell am I
supposed to maintain maintenance?). I don’t have a cool nickname.  I had
to Google the word “hipster” after my first polo outing and I gag whenever
I drink PBR. And most of the time my polo bike is deceptively disguised as
my fixie road machine.

The first image I found when googling ‘college professor on bike’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe the reason I get to write this guest blog is because I happen to be
one of the few people in the country (in the world perhaps?) who has the
opportunity to take bicycle polo into the college classroom.

This coming fall semester I will be teaching “Kinesiology 006: Cycling” at
one of Penn State’s branch campuses.  I’ve got 8 students signed up so far
for the course…which means, every Tuesday and Thursday morning during
the semester I will have numbers.

I am sure that many of you want to know HOW I got a gig teaching bicycling
to college students, so that you can run out and do the same thing and
become a two-wheeled professor like myself.  Sadly, that is not the point
of this guest blog.  But, for those of you who absolutely must know before
reading any further along, I will provide an answer as to how I got a gig
teaching bicycling to college students:  I got lucky.  Right place, right
time.

The real point of this guest blog is to tell you WHY I will be including
bicycle polo in my class on bicycling.  My class on cycling is a general
introduction to bicycling as a lifelong activity.  Over the course of ten
weeks we’ll be covering bike maintenance, bike handling, rules of the
road, mountain bike skills, road bike skills, touring, commuting, fitness,
physiology, racing, skills for riding in a pack, skills for route
planning, how to dress, and on, and on, and on…essentially as much stuff
as you can possibly squeeze into four hours a week for ten weeks while
still making sure students in the class have enough time to ride their
bikes, improve as cyclists, and maybe even fall in love with the mighty
velocipede.

The moment I read the course description and objectives, I knew that bike
polo had to be a part of my syllabus:

***It takes ten minutes to learn but a lifetime to master the stoopid
game.  This makes it a perfect game for students with a wide-ranging set
of abilities and who will be on vastly different learning curves.  Anyone
can play and few will get bored.  Seductively simple and fun, but it will
likely last longer in their lives than that Angry Birds app they deleted
off their phones last year.

***Bike handling. Bike handling.  Bike handling.  Chasing that dumb little
ball around makes you forget that you are developing a set of bike
handling skills that you can use in all of your cycling endeavors.

***Any bike.  Any place.  Any time.  They don’t call it the bicycle
INDUSTRY for nothing.  Bike companies tell you to adopt cycling for your
lifetime and tell you all about cycling’s benefits. But then they totally
lie to you and tell you that you absolutely have to spend over $3,000 on a
bike…and you’ll need a new one every three years. One of the things that
has charmed me about polo was the fun to cost ratio. It also means that as
an instructor, it will be a very cheap addition to the syllabus.  Anyone
have eight extra mallets they can spare?

***Development of creative and critical thinking.  Yeah, you heard me.
Thinking about playing bicycle polo is almost as addictive as playing
bicycle polo.  Crafting a new position to enhance your joust.  Analyzing
the physics of sitting in goal.  Dreaming up an excuse to get out of work
so you can play.  Bicycle polo involves using the gray matter.  Some
players even think WHILE they are playing the game and this type of
thinking involves a complex set of problem-solving skills that might turn
my students into great world leaders or, at the very least, better than
average baristas.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons.  The game is a blast and has
gotten many people out there on their bikes. The camaraderie involved is
unrivalled and I expect the smack-talking skills of my students will rise
to new levels. It also means that we get to recruit some new players,
which is a particularly warm and fuzzy thing to watch.

So, there it is. Maybe I’ll get a chance to post again in the fall with
some photos of my class and the verdict on how it all went.
3…2…1…course credit!

Interview with Johnathon McDowell of COMO Bike Polo

This interview was conducted in stages: 1st stage: I sent questions to him and forgot I had, Stage 2: John and I spoke at ESPI 7 about two of the questions, Step 3: John finished up the original set of questions and sent them back to me. Booyahpasha. 

When did you start playing polo, with which club, and how?

I started right around my birthday, February of last year (2011). Columbia is the kind of city that gets you into cycling. Grid layout (mostly), very bike oriented (bike lanes, tons on cycling events), and the college-town traffic makes biking here and there more efficient than driving.

After biking as a main form of transportation for 4 years i got to know a lot of the people involved in the casual biking community, some of which played bike polo. It seemed rather exclusive from an outsiders point of view but I gave it a chance a few times just watching before I actually played. They were all about getting me on a bike and me getting in a game, not exclusive at all. I started playing and haven’t looked back.

Tell me about your current rig (bike, mallet, helmet, etc.)

As of right now I am playing on a Eighthinch Scrambler. I started on a 90′s mountain bike and as my playing progressed, like others, I gained more and more personal preferences. I am not very picky when it comes to things such as flashy components, but I have made a few customizations. The Scrambler started as a fixed commuter for me, it is actually the same bike i played on when i played with the Lancaster crew, albeit it is no longer fixed and brakeless as it was then! I first played polo on it on a whim and quickly realized that the short wheel base would suit me very well and I could wheelie turn for days. The cockpit is a set of Redline bars with a Hollowpoint stem, cheap but very efficient. Efficiency is key for me and beats out flashy every time. I added a FSA Pig headset, snagged at an auction for cheap, just recently.

I ride a couple of tires made of rubber than hold air most of the time on some cheap 36h rims which will be my next upgrade area (the Eighthinch Buellers look radass!). Some chain that has links, a pieced-together crankset that hasn’t failed me yet, and a 32:20 ratio. The one thing i have put a decent amount of money into is a White Industries Freewheel. What a good decision that was.

Last, and most important, a fellow ComoPolo player brazed on some v-brake mounts and they are baller as hell with my double brake, Odyssey mod set up. Big ups to Keaton Haire! Oh, also I ride platforms, I’d kill myself if I clipped in! I have never broken a mallet so ski poles have worked just fine for me, but I am using the good ol Fixcraft XT shafts now and am constantly experimenting with mallet head material, currently some ABS, capped on one end.

What does polo look like around Columbia? Read more

Interview With Chandel Reyes, Valkyrie of the Polo Court

In late July of last year, Chandel visited Lancaster United and intimidated me so much that I did a “secret interview” (read: I took notes of how she played and shared it). Since that time I’ve gained a pair and recently asked Chandel to share her thoughts on her own illustrious past, her involvement with the NAH, and the roots of what makes bike polo a great sport:

 

When did you start playing polo, and with which club?

I started playing the fall of 2008 in Toronto, On Canada, really only played for a couple of months, then winter set in and we took a “break”; so I’d say a total of 3 solid years playing now under my belt.

 

You’ve played in a lot of places – how many clubs were you a steady member of?

I have been a steady member of 4 clubs total. First Toronto, then NYC for a year, then Philly Bike Polo for a year, and now I’m a member of the Austin Texas Bike Polo Social Club [ATXBPSC] and have been here for 6 months, but do see this as my home for the foreseeable future.

 

What differences do you notice between clubs? Culture? Seriousness? Etc.

Technically those four clubs fall into three separate regions. The northsides, then eastsides, and now the south central. They all play differently and have different perspectives about camaraderie and club support. The culture of bike polo in Toronto, at least when I started, was much more for fun. I actually started playing in an all-ladies group. One of the local couriers, Shane Murphy, was a player and really wanted ladies to start, so found a bunch of us that would at least try it. It really did have a lot of courier/messenger influence as players and it was much more a hang out and play fun, though we did take it seriously, I think it’s a lot more organized and conservative than it was when I started there.

The eastsides bike polo is very different. It was definitely a lot more serious than what I was used to. Playing in New York at “The Pit” is not only an amazing experience, but one that many bike polo players worldwide dream of doing. I was fortunate enough to be able to live and play in NYC for an entire year. I learned a lot about the NYC way of life and how to play better as a group there. The birthplace of the “new format” or “bench minor” style of play was just being developed when I was there and I don’t think I saw the same club support that they are displaying now. Having said that, some of my polo mentors came from that club and I still very much respect who they are and what they are doing. Paul Rauen would be on the top of that list. The style they play isn’t much different, but they are consistently breaking new ground in terms of equipment. Developing new brake lever styles, frames, handlebars, etc. A fun club to play with but I’d say my greatest “like” for the club is the chance to meet people from all over the world that would come to “the Pit” to play. Great way to see other styles and make new friends.
Philadelphia was much different. It’s very much a closed type of club. They welcomed me nonetheless as the only female player when I moved there, which I’m happy to say has changed and there are more females that play there now. I learned a lot and had some good laughs, but they are more internal than any club I’ve played with. For the most part their skill level is very high, but they travel far less than any other city I’ve played with, with the exception of a few individuals. They are a serious club and they take their opinions on how they play conservatively. A great weekly spot to play at, large smooth hockey court, I did learn a lot about bike control, speed, and ball control while there.

Austin Texas and the south central region are completely different. It’s called the Austin Texas Bike Polo SOCIAL Club for a reason. That’s not to say that we don’t take it seriously, but I immediately felt like it was a group of people that do support one another and do also hang out outside of pick up when possible. There is also a great divide in player skill level here, which is GREAT because we know we’re getting new people into the sport with us oldies [haha]. It’s a younger club but still with solid roots. The Texas clubs all actually play together on a regular basis. In the last 6 months I’ve been to and seen presence at our club by 6 different Texas clubs and that’s just for smaller fun tourney type things. The club itself has limited experience with the “new format” style of playing, but that’s changing in the next few months. There are serious people that play and there are those that play for fun here, so we actually have ‘designated’ nights to try to keep everyone happy. The Austin culture is different in that ‘everyone is welcome’! It’s refreshing and there are a good number of both genders present at pickup every time. The other bonus to the south is being able to play virtually all year long. =]

What’s your current bike/mallet/equipment setup? Read more

Interview with Troy Young, Pride of the PA Irish

ESPIs Seven 2012 (237)

I had the good fortune of interviewing Troy Young (“Irish” to us in Lancaster United) recently. I asked him about his own ideas about polo, the importance of shit talking, and other frivolities:

How did you get involved in Polo?

For several weeks, my friend and yours, Andy Deardorff, kept asking me to go over to Lancaster and try it.  He said he had played a little back in college when he was a bike messenger. I kept finding something else to do but finally relented and said I would at least go over and watch. 

We showed up on the night a local news station was doing a story, so we didn’t see a ton of play.  On the way home, Andy asked what I thought and I said, “Well they look like a bunch of low life hoodlums with tattoos on beat up bikes, just the crowd I enjoy hanging with.  So, if I can put together a bike with parts I have laying around (I was laid off at the time and had no money), I’ll give it a whirl.” 

 

Were you involved in bicycle related mayhem before? 

Yep, Mountain Biker by trade, but cyclist by nature.

 

How long have you been playing?

^That was almost 2 years ago, and it is the only other activity that I have chosen over MTB-ing when I have a chance to go ride.

 

What’s you’re current rig? 

Torker U-District (gift from my lovely wife), 50cm, v-brakes, Fixcraft Shaft (gift from the Crusher!), Orange Gas pipe Head.  I am still a DIY holdout. 

 

You’re known for your dead accurate, powerful shots on goal. How did you develop that skill?

Whiskey, and practicing on your mom.

 

How important is having fun in polo compared to being serious? How do you think that attitude affects pick up v. Tournament play? Read more