Archive for Other than Polo

Urban Velo Goes Out of Print: Thanks for Everything

urban_velo_issue_14

Brad of Urban Velo always intimidated me a bit as a writer. Whereas I was plunking around with this little blog, he was really building (or, by the time I met him at a Philly ESPI, had already built) an empire around writing about bikes. Troy Young challenged me to go over and talk to him–to tell him about my blog and see if he needed a writer for it–and as I was more scared of his disapproval than I was about seeming like a nerd, I did approach Brad to introduce myself.

Actually…now that I think about it, I can’t remember if it was Jeff or Brad. I want to say it was Brad. I don’t know.

Anyway, I spoke and BradJeff gave me his card and that was that. Fast forward a few years and you have where the game really started playing out.

Brad reached out to me with a proposition: I give him articles for Urban Velo (at this point, for the online pub), and he’d give me sweet, sweet money. I mean good money for writing, especially good for writing about bike polo. I tried in earnest to create unique content for UV while I still made content for my blog, too. Brad was altogether fantastic: never pressuring me into writing, never telling me what I wrote wasn’t right or needed work. I just came up with a formula and he supported me, adding a good credential to what I was doing at Lancasterpolo.

Then Worlds 2013 came up, and Brad came to me with another proposition: he’d pay for me to go to Florida if I’d provide him with a  longer story about the event. I couldn’t believe it.

I mean, I just want you to consider what this was: someone from a great bike mag was paying for me to travel to the World Championship of Bike Polo to cover it. I felt amazing. I felt valuable.

So I go and do my thing, and I send it to Brad who says “this isn’t what I was looking for,” but in such a sweet way that I’m anxious to rewrite it exactly how he wants, which I manage to do on my next try. I get to see my story in print and online, I get to help contribute to a great publication, and that’s that.

When I write that it pains me to see Urban Velo close down their print magazine, I want you to understand that it’s not just overstating a small emotion: it does bother me. It bothers me that this publication–which has given me so much and promoted me and this blog–is going to close down the mag.

Anyway, a lot of rambling to say: thanks, Urban Velo. Thanks Brad and Jeff. You did good by me, and I won’t ever forget that.

All Profits to Jeff and his Family

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I was discussing the campaign to help Jeff after his unbelievable recent loss with Aaron of 321 Polo, and we decided that a great way we could help out is to give some incentive towards people to donate.

That being said: we’ve re-opened the pre-ordering of the Tee Shirt. All profits. ALL. PROFITS. of the sale of these tee shirts will go directly to the GiveForward campaign meant to help alleviate some of the terrible costs Jeff now faces with the death of Rhiannon, and the now more difficult raising of his new twin daughters. This sale will close Wednesday, November 5th–so please order a shirt (or three).

Buy a tee shirt (or give directly to the fundraising effort through the link above) and help a fellow polo player who is going through something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Click on the image below to purchase, and thanks.

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Does Bike Polo Care About Bike Community?

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Are we promoting isolation by stepping away from involvement?

I have a fringe benefit here at my new office—this being that one floor below me is the HUB: a location for all things bicycle in the city of Lancaster. I get to park my bike in a locked room (a closet, but still, super nice), I have immediate and free access to bicycle safety courses and materials, and I get the scoop on upcoming bicycle events before some others in my community. It’s pretty swell, overall, and I think it’s something that is really helping me bike to work every day.

That and I’ve got this totally sweet ’82 Kabuki oh man I am so in love with that bike.

Anyway—I often spend time talking to a fellow who is both famous and infamous in the cycling community here: Mike Ridgeway. He’s super passionate about cycling and is able to talk my ear off about how much more we should be doing together (“we” being the Dream Ride Project/Lancaster League of American Bicyclists and Lancaster United Bike Polo. During those talks it occurred to me that there was only really one thing stopping some sort of relationship forming: the bike polo club itself.

Bike polo is, by its very nature, a sport of general misfits. It’s part of the beauty, really. We have people who are avid cyclists, people who are avid competitors, people who are avidly straight edge and avidly drunkards. We’re the oddly placed folks who have found one thing to bring us all together—and we’re protective of that, I think. All we want is to play (the majority of us, at least), and anyone who has tried to get something off the ground in their club that wasn’t just about playing the sport will recognize how hard it is to even convince people to try. As much as we say that bike polo is life, the truth is we all have lives outside of bike polo. It makes dedicating more time to it difficult to agree to—I’m not saying that’s wrong at all.

But it also occurs to me that this isolation is something that is ultimately hamstringing us. Using Lancaster as the example: there is an entire network of bicycle friendly initiatives, efforts, and people—none of which we as a club are really trying to get help from or trying to help. It seems like a wasted opportunity to me. In particular because I think bike polo clubs have a lot more to gain then they have to lose. Read more

321 Break Room! When to Introduce Polo at Work

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I’m proud of that lead graphic

It took only 5 hours for me to introduce bike polo to my new workplace, and only 5 hours and 10 minutes to get someone interested enough to play (or at least say she would—so far she hasn’t asked any follow-up about pickup days or even mentioned it…there was beer involved..). It’s something I think most of us do: get excited about sharing the joy that is our sport and trying to get more and more people involved. But the following workday—when in the office—it struck me as weird to invite anyone from work to play in the very thing that I use to take away stress from work.

Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get friends from work involved in bike polo, but I think you should be very clear about what parts of your life you’re combining. Naturally this matters more for people who have white collar jobs or jobs that actually give a damn about appearance (I imagine if you work in a bike shop you’re pretty much obligated to tell them about bike polo).

I’m coming at this from the angle of a manager who works alongside directors and the president of the organization. Do I necessarily want those sorts of folks seeing me in my Crusher form, drinking down cheap beer and cursing weird, nonsensical things at other players?

There isn’t one right or wrong answer. It comes down to the environment and expectation of your company and your own personal outlook on how you wish to be perceived. I also try to make sure that the people I’m encouraging to go to polo seem like they’d be a good fit in that sort of atmosphere—that they’d enjoy it and not just forever think that I’m some loon (I have other ways to make them think that very thing).

In my case, people already ask me about bike polo every day, now. They like that I have something so unique to do, and it helps them understand why I bike to work (it’s a super short ride—under 10 minutes and mostly downhill on the way in). But I’m curious if any of you had experiences where you tried to introduce polo to people in your company only to have the introduction go south—or at least get awkward.

Don’t Want to

 

nmazqc

 

Can’t Make me.

 

Okay–so I’m a bit out of the polo loop right now. I am switching jobs in about a week and have been super busy with getting ready for that. Please excuse the temporary break in normal nonsense.

D.C. Says Farewell

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I asked Alias to write up his feelings on the loss of their home court in D.C. I’ve played on that court–I’ve drunk my drink and smoked my smokes there. It’s the first away-court I played at after my heart went bad, and the last away court I’ve played at currently. I think lots of cities lose their courts (it’s part of the sport, really), but it doesn’t make it any easier.  Consider this a eulogy to D.C.’s court, and the beginning of the search for a new one. 

I’m a sentimental guy. So Monday when I got the call that we were losing access to the park we play at, the realization that last night’s pick-up games would be our last hit me pretty hard.  We knew this moment was coming for some time.  The park and the school adjacent to it are a part of a large development project in northeast DC.  I have been our club’s point of contact with the developer as we’ve been lobbying them to build a multi-use court in the soon-to-be remodelled park.  So while we have made some good steps toward having that kind of facility, we knew that a reality of this situation would be that we’d be a displaced community for some time for a year to two years.

The court we played at wasn’t particularly nice, but it felt like home.  Once the news was out that it would be our last night at Brentwood Park, a lot of people replied that they weren’t planning on coming to polo, but felt compelled to come one last time.  In many ways it felt like any other night.  Lots of laughs, cheering, jeering, and yes, a little polo too.  We even had a random kid show up on a mountain bike pick up a mallet, and played like he had been playing for months.  It was that sort of polo magic that reminds you of your best times with your club.  The thought that this was our final time there actually left my mind.  So then, it was all that more devestating when I remembered as I was packing up at the end of the night.  It was hard to walk away.  I gave myself a moment to grieve, but then I decided that I’d need those feelings to motivate me to make sure we got our courts.  An early lesson I learned in bike polo is that when ou dab, it doesn’t matter if it was your fault or if you were fouled, what is important is getting back in the game.

We have a back up location, but it’s not great for practice.  It is very small.  However, in talking about this with others, I’ve been reminded about how fortunate we are in DC.  Many clubs don’t have as many dedicated members, and many play in worse situations.  That’s important perspective, but it didn’t make it suck any less.  So Brentwood Park, this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.  As for the region, you can expect to see more DC visitors on the weekends for the next two years.  To summarize my feelings, a quote:”Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhggggggggggggggggggg!  Shit!  NO!  You’re going the wrong way!  Dammit. Uhhhhhhhhgggggnnnnnn”
~Bruce (Warrior Poems Vol 8. 2013)

Meet the Press: Aaron Hand, 321 POLO!

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Despite all of the things I say against some of the other bike polo blogs out in the world, the truth is I really am in awe of them. While the majority of what I cover here on Lancasterpolo is absolutely made-up drivel, they seem to put time and energy into the work they put out.

That being said, I wanted to learn a bit more about how they came to join the ranks of the Association of Bike Polo Journalists and what makes them tick. The first one to respond (and thereby the first to go up) is Aaron Hand of 321 POLO! (MY NEMESIS, BTW):

Tell me the origin story of your blog/how you got started writing about bike polo.

To be honest, I don’t know the true origin story of 3-2-1 Polo. It was created in December of 2010 by Sean Ingram of Fixcraft. My first interaction with 3-2-1 Polo! was in April of 2012 when Sean approached me about doing a bike check for my Marino Bike (http://321polo.net/2012/04/bike-check-aaron-hands-custom-marino/). After the article was published, I expressed my interest in writing to Sean in hopes that I could be a contributor.
He was stoked on the idea so I began to write some articles that I felt the bike polo community would be interested in. After writing several articles, Sean asked me about my interest in taking over the blog. He saw the blog becoming more popular and was afraid that it would lose credibility being ran by one of the polo product companies. In August of 2012 I officially took over, with the help of my good friend Christian Losciale.

Why do you keep doing it?

It’s hard to say why I keep doing it. Maybe some deep down part of me hopes that the sport will become mainstream overnight and I’ll be able to use the blog as a way to become a pundit for ESPN. Maybe some other deep down part of me doesn’t want to let down Sean and myself for being a quitter. But the most likely reason that I keep doing it is because I’m obsessed with this sport. My girlfriend often halfheartedly jokes that I love bike polo more than her. And while that’s not true, bike polo is a very close second haha.

I love this sport. I love keeping people in the know of all the latest news about products, tournaments, and developments.

What value do you think you’re providing bike polo–or are you even worried about doing that?

Like I mentioned above, I love being able to keep people in the know. I feel that I am providing a good source for people to find out all the latest and greatest coming from the polo world.

Are you ever surprised by the reaction of your readers? What instance in particular surprised you?

It’s really hard to guess how readers will react to articles. Sometimes I spend hours researching for an article and then it gets one like on Facebook and barely any hits on the website. I feel so sure that people will love it and BOOM, nothing. Other times I post a simple picture and it gets 10 shares and 90 likes. I know people care about the sport but it’s hard to hit them with an article at the exact right time for them to be interested in it.

Where do you see bike polo going in the future?

I would love for it to turn the “Big 5″ into the Big 6. Realistically, I see it becoming (at best) an Olympic sport. Not one of the cool sports like curling or gymnastics, that get lots of TV coverage, but more like triathlon or speed walking. People will be able to see it if they are at the Olympics but people at home will barely know the sport exists. The glass-half-full part of me will always fight for it to be up there with the Football, Basketball, Baseball, etc.

What would make you stop running/writing on your blogs?

$1 million buy-out from ESPN or Nike or Sports Illustrated. Although I would have a clause in the contract that would allow me to still write. Sometimes papa’s gotta express his opinion!

What’s the difference between your polo-self and your polo-writing-self?

I wouldn’t say there is a real difference. The polo-self guides, shapes, and forms the polo-writing self.

How do you frame your blog (what I mean is: if you had to write a mission statement for your blog, what would it be)?

The heading on my Instagram sums it up pretty well: “Bike Polo News from Bike Polo Dudes”. I feel Sam Ball and I have a great down-to-Earth approach to writing articles. We report on the basics; show what bike polo is, who it’s made up of, and where we want the sport to go.

Other blogs: competition or family?

I see Lancaster as both. They are like the twin brother that is competing with me for the parents attention. Yeah, we get along and are friends, but there is a that deep down desire that makes me work hard so that I can get more hugs.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I know competition drives success and growth, but I think it would be fun to join up with my fellow blog brothers and sisters to start BikePoloNews.com. I feel my site is great at reporting on the basics because I’m constantly on Facebook and League of Bike Polo looking for the latest news. I feel Lancaster is great at in-depth articles because Matt is a great writer (that one was hard to admit) [editor’s note: I bolded that. And I want it on his tombstone]. Goalhole is great and bringing all the players together and showing the fun side of bike polo. As the big three, I feel that combining out powers would both create the ultimate bike polo news website and let us all have a little more free time away from our individual blogs.

A Change of Plans

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So I realize going to Worlds is a bit of a stretch for a polo-journalist who isn’t playing and isn’t necessarily making any money at the whole journalism thing.

While I was travelling down to D.C. for their “Earth Day/Jess B-day/Alex Go Away” pickup day, I brought this up with my travelling band of merry friends, Jason and Emily.

During the conversation I explained how great it was to have people who believed in my enough to send me their money (and really, it is remarkably humbling), but that I didn’t think anyone in bike polo had enough to give to some fool who just wanted to take pictures and write flowerly remembrances of the event. Just looking at the rate I’ve been collecting and the logistics of taking that time away from work/trying to survive whilst away from home, I don’t think I can make it within a reasonable time frame of planning.

Somehow (and I don’t remember if it was me or it was Emily or Yeager), the phrase was uttered “well, why don’t you go to North Americans instead?”

And it clicked. It clicked so hard.

The thing is, I’m much more of a North American focused reporter as it is, and the flights to the middle of America are significantly less than those across the pond. I’ll be able to cover North Americans which I have yet to do, not be stymied nearly so much by being so poor, and probably not lose my job/my wife’s love for going to France without her.

That being said, I can still use any money you, dear polo world, are willing to give me. While the amount I have collected thus far $400 freaking dollars! is enough for getting most of a plane trip to the heartlands, it’s not quite enough for lodging or eating or any other expenses.

I cannot stress enough that this is not me trying to get out of footing any money myself. This is me being poor as hell. If I could travel to tournaments and do reporting on my own dime, I certainly would. But I don’t have a dime. Hell, I don’t even have a drawing of a dime.

So that’s my update. If anyone who has donated thus far is very upset with me, feel free to email me and let that be known. I realize I’m changing the scope of my goals, but really it just makes it more likely that I’ll be able to use the money for the purpose of covering bike polo, and I hope that satisfies you all!

Thank you again, and may you always find the back of the net.



This isn’t goodbye.

321

I want to start by saying that I appreciate all of you, and I hope you won’t stop reading what I write.

But, to be really honest, trying to support a website by myself is tedious at best, and it’s getting in the way of my normal writing. I’ve been struggling the past few months with life balance, and with the donations slowing to non-existent, I’ve been almost positive that my hope to get to worlds was just that: a hope.

However, Aaron Hand of 321 Polo (mortal enemy) approached me late last month with an idea and a proposition: He’d pay for my trip (well, okay–most of my trip) to Worlds if I moved under 321 POLO! as a staff writer, moving my content over to his site and making Lancasterpolo.com redirect to 321 POLO!

Honestly, this has been a consideration of mine since maybe last year, and I’m very happy to have some of the strain taken away from my day-to-day responsibilities.

But worry not! I’m going to become the East Coast (and beyond) correspondent for 321 POLO!, so you can still expect me to be up in your face, taking bad pictures and reporting romantically about the tournaments over on this side of the U.S. I’m not sure who gets the middle of the country yet, though I suspect that won’t be my responsibility.

Anyway, the actual hand-off won’t occur until next Monday, as Aaron and I need to figure out how to efficiently move my articles over to their new home before making this site a simple redirect to 321 POLO!.

Again, I’m super thankful for the readership I’ve gained so far, and I wouldn’t even have made it to the point where another website wanted to hire me on if it weren’t for you. It’s amazing what you guys have allowed me to become, and I’m so very excited to be working for someone instead of for myself.

So I’ll see you cats at my new digs at 321POLO.net soon!

One Special Day: M4M

craigs

Me: thin, wearing a red top with orange pants.

You: dark flannel shirt, leather gloves, a black helmet that covered your (I’m assuming) perfect and always listening ears.

We met in a park where you were exercising with friends. I was scared you wouldn’t remember how to hold me but you must have thought about me as much as  I thought about you. Every time I thought you were going to mix me up with someone else there, you came to me like I was the only one for you.

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But then people started going home and you went, too. I waited for you, but I guess you had other things on your mind (we all do, it’s okay).  Another guy took me home but all I could think about was you.

I’ll be back to the park on Wednesday, Mr. Flannel. I hope you will be, too.

do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers.