Saturday, November 14, 2015
Bike Polo 2015
Kyle Buonocore and David Hutchinson Battle for the ball.
Yes. You did read that correctly. There really is a Bike Polo phenomenon in North America. There are several other areas in the world where the game is played, thirty countries, in fact.
There are more than 20 cities in Canada with Bike Polo venues. There are three in the Ottawa area, including Arnprior and Almonte. The games take place near Allen Park Elementary School in Fort Myers on a tennis court. The top teams in the country place in arenas.
It is as simple as it sounds. Players rides their bicycles and use croquet-like mallets to bang around a ball hockey ball. The nets are six feet wide, but a little lower than hockey nets. Occasionally, a player acts as a goaltender.
There is one simple trick all players must learn to be proficient at the game: your feet cannot touch the ground. I always had trouble maintaining that kind of balance. In an introductory look at the game, a team called the Guardians plays the Corgoyles. (probikepolo.com)
There are only three riders on each team. I really like the way the game is started. No jump ball, no dropping the puck. The ball is placed at centre ice, and the centres race from their ends in a jousting manner to get control of the ball.
Bobby Feldman has played the game for almost six years. He is my supervisor at the Edison and Ford Estates, and, during our brief breaks, he will discuss the game with me. "Yes," he told me, "there are injuries." In a recent practice, another competitor, Joelle Hammes nursed a fat lip she received after being hit with an errant shot.
Bobby said that gloves are important in the game. He indicated that there are gloves made specifically for bike polo. There are also bike polo bikes, which do not come cheaply. One frame and fork he showed me on the net was $ 500. But many players use regular sturdy bikes. Helmets are mandatory in league play.
A couple of weeks ago, Steve showed up after reading about the game. Steve is 72. Players soon realized he was not your ordinary senior. After the game, he revealed that he had worked with bicycles for years, in the circus. he offered to take his unicycle to the next practice!
The West Coast appears to be a hotbed for the sport. The best teams are now located in San Francisco and Seattle. There are teams in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
Bobby has played in several tournaments in Florida, as well as in Puerto Rico and Anchorage, Alaska. His team is preparing for an event in Gauadalajara, Mexico. The world championships are in New Zealand, in February.
"Checking is allowed in the game," he told me. "Clean hits are fine."
Joelle recently indicated that she really looks forward to the pick-up games played in Fort Myers. She has competed in two tournaments, and now that she has recovered from reconstructive knee surgery, she is ready to play. "It really makes my week."
I twigged to Bobby's comments when I first heard about the game. The campus at the front of our high school in Belleville had a hard and unforgiving surface. We played bike polo there, with croquet mallets and a tennis ball. I vaguely remember battered shins from those battles.
The first three-on-three tournament in the city takes place in mid-December. Teams are expected from Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Miami, Palm Beach, and Weston.
Yet another way to make good use of a tennis court, when the nets are down!
November 14, 2015.
Photo: Kyle Buonocore and David Hutchinson battle for the ball, with Bobby Feldman in pursuit.