The Polo Season in Creamery Park, 2004
by Stan Klonowski
After the holidays, sometime in late January, we held our first official bike polo game. We met in Creamery Park for three reasons. Firstly, it's really close to my house, where all the polo equipment, extra bikes, and a number of players are stored. Second, it's just down the block from the 4-Peaks brewery. Considering the likelihood of every event ending in a bar visit, we figured we'd keep the post-match route as simple as possible. Thirdly, the park itself is a huge bowl, used for retaining storm water overflows. That makes it really hard to whack the ball and send it out into the street.
The first game was an exercise in frustration, as none of us were capable of hitting the ball with any sort of accuracy. But we still had fun riding our bikes around and attempting to score. We laid out a small field, which made it easier to get a lot of action. Most importantly, we got some sweet pictures.
Over the next few weeks, our numbers grew and our skills developed significantly. We were still playing three on three most of the time, but we expanded the field so that there was more riding and you could hit the ball harder. People bought mountain and road bikes, and everything in between. Josh and Chris used BMX bikes, displaying surprising agility for the short game. Stan, our fixer, turned out a little slow on the sprints, but the fix certainly has its place on the polo field.
In fact, everything has its place. One of the most surprising things we discovered about polo is the lack of gender bias. It takes a couple attempts for any new player to get a handle on things, but after a little practice, women can be just as proficient as men. Most of the game is ball-handling skills, balance, and teamwork. Thus, strength and aggression don't necessarily make a better polo player. Vanessa, a singlespeeder, quickly established herself as one of our most skilled players.
For Bike Week, we made an effort to get a few more on the teams. JR put together a poster, which is pretty cool. We posted flyers, talked to any bike freaks we saw, and harassed our friends. As a result, 15 people showed up on April 19 for some championship play.
There wasn't really that much competition, but everybody still had fun. We used a rotating team and member system, where the winning team of each short match played in the next match. As players got tired, they would swap out of the teams. In the end, everyone played on teams with almost every other player. It makes it difficult to award prizes, but we tried anyway. One of the highlights of the evening was having a girls-only game. Two teams of three women each took the field in an amazing display of non-contact action. The pictures just don't do it justice, you had to be there. A few spectacular crashes rounded out the evening, and everyone made it to the bar alive.
Since Bike Week we have moved into summer mode. We're still playing on a semi-regular basis, but the bar has changed. We now have our post-game revelry at Plaid Eatery on the corner of Lemon and Terrace. The atmosphere there is one to experience.