I finally got a chance to go see hard court bike polo this weekend! Week after week Elliott and I have been putting this on our list of “must see” cycling events around town but this is the first time it has worked out.
Riding up to Eastwoods Park in the worst headwind since Thursday I was slow, slow, slow all the way there but in the end it was worth it.
One thing you should know about hard court bike polo is that even though the start time is set for 4pm on Sundays, it really doesn’t get going until around 5. For thirty minutes or so I rode around the park alone wondering if there had been a cancellation. Keep that in mind when you’re heading over - people will show up! Oh, and of course, bike polo is BYOB. Socializing between (and during) games is part of the fun.
The bike polo court
So how do you play? This is a simple game. You won’t be kept up nights pondering the intricacies of bike polo. The way it’s played right now is on one half of tennis court, and usually 3v3. There’s a center line, and two sets of goals about three feet wide at either end of the court. Players start the game at their opposite sides of the court and charge hard towards the ball sitting at the center line to start each match.
Be careful how you strike the ball. Passing can be done head-on with the mallet or from the side, but any scores must be done only with the head of the mallet. And speaking of the mallets, they’re nicely made homemade versions cut from PVC pipe ( I was wrong about that, see the comments ) which makes them very lightweight.
Wheel protection can be important too.
While simple in concept, bike polo will take a WHILE to get good at. The one game I played, I was completely owned 0-3! Piloting your bike in a small space with one hand while balancing and trying to hit the ball at all is tough, and getting the ball to go where you want is a lot harder. One advantage to getting there early is you might have some time to practice - and you’re gonna need it. Be prepared for contact, too. Other players aren’t going to intentionally try and break your face, but it may happen anyway. Games get rougher and more intense as they go along.
Fixies are king on the bike polo court and especially those geared just for the semi-slow speeds needed. They can be a whole lot easier to slow gracefully and the ability to go backwards is a real winner. That doesn’t mean you can’t play if you don’t have one, just keep in mind you’ll be at a disadvantage. Players who are sitting out a game might let you borrow their fixed-gear bike if you really need it, too.
Hard Court Bike Polo Eastwoods Park, 3001 Harris Park Avenue ( map ) At the tennis courts