Bryan returned from the Flashbus workshop in Dallas late Thursday night, and got up on Friday to go to MacArthur Park to help set up for the Southeast Regional Bike Polo tournament and play a few games of pickup. Mandy’s out of town, so I joined the group right after work to help out. To kick off the weekend’s activities, Vinnie organized a nighttime alleycat race. Participants left from MacArthur, and had to pick up packages and bike parts at various places in Little Rock. Bryan and I volunteered to staff the station atop the Big Dam Bridge. Before signing off on their ‘manifests’ we made the racers hula-hoop for us. Continue reading “SCBPC Bike Polo Tournament”
LRBP learned a lot in Austin and then we learned even more in Lexington, KY at the 1st Midwest Open bike polo tournament. Nathan, Dan and I asked the organizers questions, we asked the computer programmer guy questions, we participated in the refereeing meeting and we helped ref several games. We paid attention to how the registration and the after-party was done. We also had a great host who loaned us his apartment and some of us discovered FourLoko (just in time for it to become banned).
With these notes, we should be well prepared to put on our next tournament and show our polo friends a good time!
The courts in Lexington were very nice (and blue!) and a lot bigger than our home courts. This led to me feeling like I was always chasing the ball around. Our passing game was pretty good due to recent practicing. I think we played good defense but our shooting wasn’t up to par. And the larger courts led to us getting tired and allowing goals to be scored in the final couple of minutes.
We went into this weekend wanting to score at least one point in every game and we accomplished that. Our scores from Saturdays games:
Little Rock Bike Polo sent a whopping eight people to Austin, TX for their Halloween tournament (the Massacre-ade Ball). None of the Little Rock teams did particularly well but everyone seemed to view it as a learning experience. Notes were taken about what to do and what not to do with regards to running future tournaments in Little Rock.
I didn’t realize how fast bike polo is played on the tournament level, but I soon found that out. In my team’s first game, we played three girls in onesies (they were dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team) who came out fast and furious. I know I took an elbow to the ribs and didn’t actually realize we were playing an all girl team until nearly the end of the 5-0 match! Thanks for schooling us, ladies!
I probably had the worst injury of the tournament when I took an elbow to the mouth from an opposing team member when I came alongside him (in his blind spot) to stop him from scoring on us. At the same time he tried to take a shot (and his elbow found my mouf) his pedal wound up in my front wheel despite me having wheel covers on. Three spokes broken, huge gash on the inside of my lip and no goal for them!
Here’s an interesting photo-sequence (click to see bigger), taken by Darcie with my camera, which features yours truly turning too sharply and foot-downing, followed by my wheel getting run over by an opposing team member. Polo is a rather civilized game, so the other team member apologized for running over my wheel and I said it wasn’t a problem and we both rode off and tapped in.
The polo courts need work. Because of a few generous donations, a lot of smaller offerings, several loads of donated lumber, and last weekend’s exhausting polo tournament, we can make that work happen. On Thursday, Keith from the Clinton Foundation, along with a couple of dozen volunteers from Americorps, came to help renovate our polo courts. Continue reading “Polo Court Work Day(s)”
We play bike polo (NYT’s video) in downtown Little Rock, at MacArthur park, on two run-down and long-neglected tennis courts. It’s good in a lot of ways – semi-dedicated parking, a locked bathroom we have the combination for, trash cans. Years ago, some roller-hockey guys added solid sides to one of the courts, two-foot-tall walls made of wood with curved corners, but they’ve really deteriorated. The second court has nothing but weeds and junk in the square court corners. It’s hard to play polo when you have to stop continually to dig the ball out of the Sonic cups and lumber scraps.
The guys have been trying to raise some money to repair the sides on court 1 and to install new short walls on court 2. If we can get money for supplies (or donated lumber) together by September 11, the Clinton Foundation/Americorps will help with volunteer labor to get the work done. The fundraising efforts have fallen pretty flat so far, so Monday night, they met at Vino’s and decided to have a tournament this weekend. Continue reading “Little Rock Bike Polo Fundraising Tournament”
In the couple of months since we first visited the polo courts, we’ve played more and more. My polo bike has become somewhat infamous for being heavy and making terrible noises. Bryan bought a new bike for polo and has made some adjustments, like narrow handlebars and brakes.
For some reason, this summer bike polo has become a sort of strange Little Rock media darling. There have been articles in several local news-magazine-papers, which have produced some good photos and some bad quotes.
Here’s the links to the news articles followed by some random polo-related photos.
When we decided we’d like to try playing bike polo, we started looking for a ratty old bike to use. I was surprised at how difficult it was to find an adult-sized bike at pawnshops and thrift stores. After several days of dedicated effort, I found this great girls’ 1975 Schwinn Varsity at a scary pawn shop in south LR. The guy wanted $40 for it, but I told him it was clearly not worth it, since the back brakes didn’t work and the tires were too rotten to hold air for more than eight minutes, tops. (Should I feel bad about this? I’m not sure.) Fortunately, I’d worn black pants to work on Friday, so grubbing around in the back room of a pawnshop was okay, because the grease didn’t show.
Schwinn used to make great bikes, back before they became a toy company and started producing full-sized bicycle replicas instead.
I guess I have a soft spot for the old Schwinns. (And I’ve noticed that Bryan’s an amazingly good sport about it.) This bike’s great, a real classic, made in Chicago, and came with many entertaining features, such as Giant Reflectors The Size of A Cat, Awesome Upside Down Homeless Guy Handlebars, and those old paddle-style shift levers that look like they should be used to serve draft beer.
Saturday, Bryan and I spent lots of time happily fiddling with the bike. We removed lots of unnecessary parts. He took off all the reflectors, and everything related to the non-operational back brake. He removed one of the chainrings and the guard, along with the front derailleur and cabling. I chopped off the kickstand with a hacksaw.
Earlier this spring, when we remodeled my Voyageur touring bike, we replaced the useful but ugly Michelin gumwalls with nice new Schwalbe tires. We’d saved the Michelins, though, and I was thrilled to find that they’d fit on the polo bike just fine. We only had to buy new tubes and rim strips for it.
We moved the handlebars, but only a little bit. We decided to, for the most part, retain the Awesome Upside Down Homeless Guy Handlebar arrangement because it’s surprisingly comfy. We took off the ratty handlebar tape, and after much experimentation, settled on a new placement for the single remaining brake lever.
Proper polo bikes, we’ve learned, have spoke protectors. This makes sense. It seems as if mallets, balls, and other peoples’ feet would not only make for bad crashes, but could really damage a wheel. So early in the week, I secured a generous supply of corrugated plastic scraps from the sign shop at work. We traced the wheels and cut out circles, making a straight slit along the radius so that the discs would ‘dish’ properly along the spokes. Then we marked the spokes, drilled holes through the plastic, and attached them to the wheels with zip-ties.
Being less than amazingly creative, I copied the old Schwinn “star” pattern from the frame of the bike and filled it in with Sharpie. I threw in some polka dots made with paint from Mandy’s crafts box, just on the principle that polka dots are usually a good idea.
I’m ready to play. The back wheel discs aren’t quite done, because I’m waiting for some sort of creative inspiration. We may make some changes to the handlebars and brakes at some point. But for now, it’s great. Total cost: $38, for the bike, rim strips, and tubes.
It rides beautifully. 3-2-1-POLO!
We heard at the last minute that Ian Sims, the founder and CEO of the Australian recumbent trike company Greenspeed, would be visiting Little Rock late this afternoon. It was very cool to meet him (and Greenspeed’s US marketing person, Deanna) and ride the X5 trike they brought with them. (BOO CHAINWHEEL BIKE SHOP STAFF, for your total lack of marketing and general pigheaded ignorance about this event.)
After a nice supper, since we had our Greenspeed GTT in town with us, we went out to Two Rivers Park for an early evening ride. The weather was perfect and the park was uncrowded. I wonder how much more traffic those paved trails will get after the new bridge is completed?
Then we headed to MacArthur Park, near the Arkansas Arts Center, to watch the Little Rock Bike Polo club play. They use an old tennis/roller hockey court that’s only half-lit, so they bring their own lighting for the other half and run extension cords across the grass. And what they do looks like a ton of fun.
It would be easy to say “we don’t have time to play” or “it looks dangerous.” It would be easy to say “what a silly idea.”
But when I’m all used up and it’s time for me to die, I want to say things like “remember the summer we played bike polo? Remember how the weeds grew up the sides of the court, and how we drank cheap beer in the dark, and how we laughed?”