We had our first bike polo tournament on May 26th! A few of us gathered at the Bicycle Authority after work, and went over the rules and setup the arena. Only one of us had played before, so we really didn’t know what to expect.
Chip Mohrman built us a bunch of polo mallets, made from old ski poles, pipe, hockey tape, and some other finishing materials. The only other items we had were cones for the goals, and a few street hockey balls.
As far as bikes, we all rode something different. We had a mountain bike, a dirt jumper, a couple big wheeled BMX bikes, a road bike, and even a fixie. I’m not sure any one bike was an advantage, although toe straps were definitely not good unless you enjoyed bruises.
We started off with 2 man teams, but as more people showed up, we went to 3 people on a team. Three on a team was much more fun. This gave you better defense, but also added to the chaos. There is contact in the game, sometimes accidental, sometimes intentional. Only same-on-same contact is allowed though. Mallet on mallet, bike on bike, or body on body. We were all riding nice bikes though, so we tried to keep the contact at a minimum. Still, it was sometimes hard to decide between getting a shot or not mowing somebody down. Stripping somebody of their mallet was also fun to try, but it seems like I always lost mine instead.
While the game is in play, riders are not allowed to put a foot down. A rider that touches the ground has to “tap out” by riding to the edge of the court and touching a designated area, temporarily taking them out of play. Using your mallet on the ground to help you balance is permitted though. Using the side of the mallet to get the ball around is ok, but your goals only count if the shot is made from the ends of the mallet.
One of the challenges of the game is that the mallet has to be in your right hand. Since I’m left handed, this posed a challenge to me. I’m not real coordinated to begin with. Some of the other riders had to move their brake lever to the left hand side of the bars, since they were running only one brake.
We played until the sun started going down, and reluctantly stopped. A few of the guys went home with bruises and cuts. We had so much fun though that we plan to do it again real soon. Stay tuned for the next tournament, and come give it a try!