Tag Archive for Bike polo stories

My first time..

rookie

Giessen has a pretty active polo scene and it’s also right in the middle of Germany, making it easy to reach for those coming from elsewhere. Giessen, if you’ve not heard of it, is a small German city and everything else I might be able to tell you, I read on Wikipedia, whilst on the train (shame on me!) bound for this bound for this pretty little town with a pretty big tournament in the German polo scene.

I’d been on the waiting list for the third Giessen individuals and wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to play or not, but thought I’d leave it up to fate to decide. Well, the list of players shrunk dramatically when the mercury dropped mid-October and the 15 names on the waiting list were pushed up to the participants list. So, fate had decided.

The prospect of playing a real tournament seemed very daunting to me, especially after reading through the list of participants and finding some “big names”. I was worried about making a fool of myself on the court. The reason being, I’ve never been the team sport kind of person. Sure, I played basketball and rugby at school, but since then I moved around a lot and wasn’t willing to commit to any team knowing full well that I’d probably be moving to another country soon. I started doing things like bouldering, snowboarding and cycling, any kind of sport really that you can do on your own. So what made me nervous about playing in Giessen was, I wasn’t used to disappointing anyone apart from me.

Ready to pounce

Ready to pounce

But this tournament wasn’t about that. The Giessen individuals is probably one of the best chances for a newbie to just give tournaments a try, without getting their team eliminated after 2-3 games. Sure, there was still a competitive air about the whole thing, but it wasn’t quite as dense as in Nürnberg, where I’d previously been to watch (although, we didn’t get to stay for the finals and I

hear they were full-on). Let alone the “special games” at the end of every round (e.g. with goals turned to the boards or only counting shuffle goals), which loosened any tensions pretty quick. I quickly lost my fear of disappointing anyone and just gave it a shot and tried my hardest.

The noble Knight

The noble Knight

One scene I observed pretty much summed up the whole weekend. Timmy (Nürnberg) was playing with Danny (Berlin) speeding down the court. All three opponents had fallen off their bikes and went to tap back in. The score was 4:0 and Danny and Timmy had an open goal. Instead of putting an unglamorous end to the game, Timmy parked himself in the goal and played goalie for the opposing team while Danny came up with the ball. He scored, of course, but it was an act of nobility that got the crowd roaring with props. And that’s the spirit of polo.

You may remember reading the article “Top Players Don’t Do Tricks”, but I’d like to notch that up further and say, top players also know when to keep their do-or-die mentality at bay. This means giving others, who aren’t quite on their level yet, a chance too, or at least show others what fair play really means. For me, as a newbie, it means them giving me a chance to taste the blood that got them hooked in the first place.

That’s what makes this tournament so special, it is still a competition which everyone joins with sporting ambitions. The difference at individuals is, the best players sometimes have to play with an amateur like myself, and that is when real strength in character shows. Playing with guys like Dany from Brno, Danny from Berlin or the Nürnberger troupe was pretty intimidating, but these guys and gals embody the true spirit of polo, so thanks for that Giessen and all the players I met there. Giessen is much more than a long Wikipedia entry, it’s one of those places I never thought I’d visit before playing polo, and am now certain will be a regular appointment in my polo calender.

 

Don’t Stop Me Now!

Tigerlily

Editor’s Note: this is the very first post of Caroline (who’s nickname is Tigerlily)–she answered my call for women writers and is the first to send me content, so I’m happy and honored to feature her here. Look for more from Tigerlily (and from other great voices in our sport) in the future! 

Some newbies buy themselves an expensive imported frame to show their commitment to the sport, I decided to become a blogger. I’d say it’s just as committing, but it’s also definitely far more sensible (for now and for my bank account). The great part about starting bike polo is that you don’t really need much in terms of gear. Most teams are so stoked to see potential addition to the family that everyone throws their stuff together to get a newbie kitted out for the first few rounds.

TigerbikeI’d been watching polo for about a year, more out of obligation and loyalty to my boyfriend than out of personal interest. To be honest though, it may have been a bit of a farce and I chose not to be interested just to have “one night off” a week to do my own thing. Well, that all crumbled sometime in August when I decided to join my Augsburg lads in Nürnberg to watch a tournament. The guys were fine with taking me along, mainly because the logistics were easy to deal with – three people, two bikes and one camera. I spent the weekend taking shots of the action, and by Sunday afternoon I could no longer resist, I swapped my camera for a bike and started dribbling a ball around behind the courts and out of view.

Tigerlily GoalI had spent a year telling everyone  I wasn’t going to play polo because it’s just too rough a sport for me (conveniently leaving out the fact, I used to play rugby in school). After watching for 3 full days I realised  my argument wasn’t going to cut it any longer for me. The few polo induced bumps and bruises were just not enough to be calling this sport seriously dangerous.

So after we got back, I invested. I geared myself up with the basics I needed to feel “safe” – hockey helmet, knee and shin-guards, gloves and super snazzy inline-skater elbow guards that I scored for 50 cents at the local second hand charity store. Since then, I’ve been hooked.  So to make sure you all know I’m serious about this, I’m going to keep track of my progress and observations here. Watch this space.

Lancaster Goes to DC

Well, some of Lancaster. The rest were too lame to make the hour long trip for funtime polo.

Troy, Karl, Yeager and I made the skip & jump down to DC this Sunday in order to play some very pleasant, very fun polo.

I mean, once their players started showing up. We were the first ones on the court and as such had the ancient right to put stickers on their goals and pee in various spots on the court. It appeared we were not the first ones to do so.

DC made us feel welcome (as always) and showed us a thing or two about how to play the sport. I had my first ever Empanada, too (which Jess explained to me as a clam hand motion when I asked her what it was–so that was helpful), and I gotta say those things are worth the trip down to DC.

We played simple pickup, and before my heart decided to get over-excited (with Bobby sweating all over the court, how couldn’t it?) I was having a blast. The court surface in DC is tennis paint, so it grips and holds just like we all grew up with. It’s a smaller court, to be sure, but not as small as what I’m used to at RVA. No, I think it was just about the perfect size for some good breakaways and clever mallet work.

After a full day of polo, Lancaster promptly left the city and hit traffic twice. But with good company in the car, who the hell cares about not moving for thirty or so minutes, amiright?

How Crusher Got His Groove Back

Crusher Irish and Ted Lancaster United Bike Polo

When I got my new polo bike, two things happened: I became much better at taking risks and challenges on offense, and I became much worse at defending the goal.

The first bit (becoming better at offense (in that I was willing to actually go on offense more)) was just fine by me, but I was really upset about my goal game going to the birds. I prided myself, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, on my brick wall goal tending.

The Iron Curtain.

The lead shield they use on your junk during dental X rays.

That was me – that was my role in the dynamic of a team.

But then I got my sweet new whip and I kinda lost that ability. I chalked it up to my wheel base being different, my dependence on those big wheels compared to my much smaller 26ers now, and just a general learning curve.

Well my friends, for reasons which will elude me, it seems I’ve got my groove back. Took plenty of time to get here (what, like months and months now), but I think the last pickup day fleshed out that the skill is still there, it was just taking a little breather.

got his groove back

No real lesson here, just wanted to share the happiness. Onward and Upward (and you’re welcome for that picture).

I Can’t Quit You

IMG_0886

I have not been playing much polo for the past 3 months. I made up a bunch of excuses as to why I was going to be taking a break. Excuses. Tell me the last time an excuse was the whole truth… Quite simply my life was getting out of balance, and setting polo aside for a season was one of the more easy steps toward restoring balance. I let life trump polo. You say life IS polo. I say it is not. Read more

Polo Tonight was Interesting, or How We Almost Hid the Body of a 17 Year Old.

One of the great frustrations for most of us polo players is the lack of our own facility. Much like professional curlers or caber tossing – we are on the outs of public facilities. This helps explain why we are so overjoyed when we can find and successfully use a place to play our sport.

It also makes us very protective. Like, wolverine hissing over a carcass protective.

I’m telling you all of this to go into the story of tonight’s polo game, where we pretty much encountered the 2011 representation of teenage angst:

Polo, Bike Polo, Lancaster City Bike Polo, Hardcourt Bike Polo

There is a useful article on page 14 about using mentos and mouth wash to cover up the smell of cigarettes from your mom!

I don’t actually know who that fella is above, but it’s pretty much what we saw tonight.

So the story goes like this: Read more

And now for something completely different

Note from the editor: I like to think that Lancasterpolo.com promotes the free expression of the club. In that vein, here is…something…that Trace wrote up and sent to me.

Evolution of a polo addiction (must be read out loud in caveman/woman voice – the video will help)

 

 

  • Me go play polo on Redline Monocog. Me no idea how fun it be.
  • Giggle like cavegirl for 18 hour straight after play first time.
  •  Me ‘find” corrugated plastic sign. Make wheel cover. Me no make good circle.

 

  • Me want make mallet!!!
  • Me go shopping at Salvation Army. Read more

Player Profile on 321 POLO: Matt Messman Messenger, Elder of Hardcourt Polo

Came across an outstanding article put together by the cats over at 321 POLO! wherein they interview Matt Messman Messenger about the beginnings of Polo (seeing as though, you know, he was there and all).

Here’s a slice:

Being one of the forefathers of Hardcourt, do you fall into the “Diy or die!” camp, or are you excited about any possibilities that major sponsors could do for our sport?

[Messenger]: It has always been DIY for polo for me. I still think the whole sport is DIY, from guys making podium software for tournaments to polo peeps making and building bikes and other gear. Just how big can the sport get on a DIY basis, I hope big. I know I would like to host a few specialty tournaments myself. Only recently have I spent more money on bikepolo gear. but still not that much as I see others. Before it was just recycling anything to make my bike/mallet go the distance. This has all to do with the competition. Competition is what is going to bring in sponsors to the sport as well as popularity. I am working on a sponsorship package for the 2013 season.

 

Read the article here. Well done 321 POLO!, this is a great article.

When Bike Polo Just Sucks

Bad days of polo just happen. Days when you want to say goodbye to the sundry pleasures of the mallet and go back to your small artisan coffee shop to serve out watered down cappuccino to hairy knuckled “underground” artists. I’d be comfortable in saying that it’s nobody’s fault but your own 9/10 times, and that you’ve just got to suck it up and take the punches.

For reference, please see my last pissy post about such a night.

While I don’t consider myself a polo superstar (superstars, for instance, would know how to pedal), I do think after a year of playing I should have the basics of the sport down.

But Wednesday night proved me to be as skilled at playing bike polo as a mime is at having self respect.

Now, I’m not saying that I play horribly all of the time. Most nights I do pretty well for myself and, at the very least, carry my own weight on the team. But Wednesday night was literally the WORST NIGHT OF POLO I’VE EVER PLAYED OMG 4REAL. Read more

Was there life before polo?

On April 1oth, 2010 my relationship with the bicycle changed.

Early April 2010:

Ted and I are looking for some form of bicycle community here in Lancaster, not the Lycra clad, pretty boy, Lexus driving variety either, something more organic. We want to find people with passion for and a commitment to the bicycle. Period. Trolling the web at Square One Coffee we stumble upon Lancaster City Bike Polo’s Facebook page. Our curiosity is piqued.

April 10th, 2010:

Cuppy and Kyle from LCBP introduce me to this bicycle polo thing. Kyle gives me a mallet and I feel as though I have just been given Excalibur though it is really just a ski pole with a piece of gas pipe on the end. We hit the ball around and listen to Kyle wondering where everyone else is. “More players next time Trace, thanks for coming out.” I ride home, Excalibur mallet in hand, not fully comprehending what I just experienced.

Later in April 2010:

More players DO show up. I play my first game of bicycle polo. The stars align. Birds are singing. I crash far more often than a sober person should. I can’t stop giggling like a little girl.

Spring 2010 to present: I suffer from polo addiction. There is only one cure.