“Bike Polo and R. Kelly” by HandlebarMustache420

[Editor’s note from Zac S in italics]

Late last night, I got an email from an individual who wanted to be known only as HandlebarMustache420. He/she wanted to share an article that had been rejected at several other blogs, and asked if we at Boston Bike Polo would post it on our blog. I love R. Kelly and I love scattered ramblings so I’m going to take a chance on this anonymous blogger and hope that the people out there are receptive to this type of insanity.

Here BBP presents to you: Polo and R. Kelly, by HandlebarMustache420.

 

I think a lot about the culture of bike polo. What kind of people are we? And what kind of people do we aspire to be? Generally speaking, I think we are an active, athletic, and friendly group of people. I try not to let a few bad apples ruin the bunch, and for the most part we can all be very charming, and very alluring to people looking for new hobbies. Bike polo also has a dark side; the sport sometimes displays qualities one might find in an abusive partner (not my analogy, but I like it a lot). You have unexplainable cuts and bruises on your arms and legs, and you keep trying to rationalize all of the emotional and physical pain. I haven’t even mentioned the money: where does it go? Travel costs? Mallet equipment? Beer fund? Most importantly, the sport often makes decisions that impact you without asking. At the end of the day, though, bike polo whispers sweetly, “you’re body is callin’, baby,” with an R. Kelly-esque knowing wink.

Everyone's favorite R&B crooner / rapper superstar / crazy person / sex offender.
Everyone’s favorite R&B crooner / rapper superstar / crazy person / sex offender.

Yeah, I know R. Kelly is allegedly a rapist, and make no mistake, it breaks my heart. He is one of my musical idols and the composer of my favorite karaoke songs and middle school jams. We all know that bike polo is co-ed, and most of my best friends in the polo world are women. I have a lot of respect for them as people, and even respect for their talent and toughness on the court. I am not a “feminist” in the traditional sense, so does it make me an accessory to sexism if I listen to his new album, even though most of the songs on Black Panties celebrate women and their bodies?

Ok, you’re right. R. Kelly doesn’t really “celebrate” women. For the most part he only honors a very specific part of the female anatomy. The really odd thing is, R. Kelly will sing a song about proposing marriage to a girl’s vagina (seriously— the song is called Marry The Pussy and it’s on his newest album, “Black Panties”), and on the next track fall to his knees and pray for forgiveness from his dead mother in heaven. It’s perplexing, but to me it’s completely enthralling. I want to believe that R. Kelly is just a character whose sexual antics I can laugh about, but deep down I know he has urinated on 15-year old girls, and obviously I do not idolize or even condone that kind of behavior. And I especially do not want to be on the receiving end of a golden shower, no matter how much Cristal there is poppin’ in the stretch Navigator.

That said, am I a bad person for blasting his jams on speakers at polo tournaments? I don’t want to be insensitive to anyone, and so far I haven’t run into anyone that doesn’t “toot toot” and “beep beep” when Ignition (Remix) comes on. Is there really nothing wrong with a little bump and grind? Or am I perpetuating a precedent: that women are to be objectified and disrespected and reduced to sex objects?

This doesn't have anything to do with R Kelly or bike polo, I just think DickButt is hilarious.
This doesn’t have anything to do with R Kelly or bike polo, I just think DickButt is hilarious.

With the recent gender kerfuffle in the polo world, I just wanted to let all the wonderful ladies out there know: I care about the issues. I swear I do. They mean more to me than you might expect. And statistically, women live longer than men, meaning that they will have to live with the repercussions of the Polo Don Drapers of the world for on average three to five years longer than everyone else. So the next time you feel like saying something biased, prejudiced, or just plain stupid, compare yourself to R. Kelly and do the exact opposite of that.

-HandlebarMustache420

 

[Editor’s note again, Zac S]

Wow… that went places I wasn’t expecting. Anyway I agree about women being awesome, but I think R. Kelly should be left in the jukeboxes and off the polo court. And that’s coming from someone who loves screaming Bump ‘n Grind at the top of his lungs. 

An Open Letter to Boston

This is an open love letter to Boston and Boston Bike Polo.

Some kids want to retire this logo, but personally I love it.
Some kids want to retire this logo, but personally I love it.

Boston is probably one of the worst biking cities in North America. I don’t know why specifically; it could be because of the generally unfavorable road conditions, the oblivious and ornery automobile drivers, or the roads that look like someone dropped a handful of spaghetti on a map. The city and its bureaucrats hate that we play polo on the hockey court in Allston, the hockey players hate that we use the rink more than they do, and hardcore road cyclists with their $4000 Cannondales hate the way that we represent bikers to others on the road (no helmets, ignoring traffic signals, bombing one-way streets the wrong way, etc.)

I have a theory: all of this hate directed towards Boston Bike Polo brings us  closer together as a community. The fact that the city of Boston generally sucks is in fact the glue that binds us. When the weather isn’t great, we get together and play awesome board games and drink beers and geek out until 3am. When the court is covered with a foot of snow and the forecast looks promising, we strap on our duck boots, grab our shovels and a 12-pack of Sam Adams, and we scrape that lumpy white devil powder (not the fun kind) off of our court. When the city says we can’t do something, we secretly do it anyway, and then we light a bunch of firecrackers.

Addison takes another bank shot. Photo: @miguelmreyes
Addison takes another bank shot in Puerto Rico. Photo: @miguelmreyes

There is a reason that I feel more comfortable with my polo friends than I do with the people I work with. I can truly be myself: unashamed that I make more shitty puns and more dick jokes than any reasonable adult in his mid-twenties ought to. Polo gives me an excuse to fly to Puerto Rico for the better part of a week with my best friend, and subsequently forget to wear sunscreen on the beach. Polo gives me a relatively healthy outlet for my desire for carnage.

Boston is not a fun city. The bars close at 1am, the T stops at 12:30, and the city resents me as a resident. Every year my friends tell me they want to move, and every year I get more excited when they don’t. You guys, I don’t want to be here either. I have weekly fantasies about moving to other dope polo cities like Austin or Toronto or San Francisco or Lexington. However, it’s when I travel to other cities that I hear whispers of people saying they want to move to Boston, and let me tell you, you wouldn’t regret it if you did.

Do a kickflip!
The docks of the Charles River.

Come April, if you need me, you can find me sprawled shirtless on the docks of the Charles River with my Harpoon IPA in a Freaker, warning other kids not to touch the bottom when they dive into the water. -ZS

I Hate Bike Polo, Too

Today isn’t even over and it already sucks.

The first link I clicked on this morning was www.hatingonbikepolo.com, where I was greeted with an excellently written, well-thought out argument against playing bike polo entirely. And it was shared all over the internet— by my friends! Who all love playing bike polo more than they love their parents. Was it an inside joke? Because I don’t know if I entirely “get” it. Was it a manifesto? Because it had some very poignant arguments that really forced me to reevaluate my priorities. Was it a rant? Because this page was written in a very upsetting tone, to which I can certainly relate. Well guess what, friends: sometimes I fucking hate bike polo too.

This new blog accomplished everything it set out to achieve: it left me feeling kind of empty inside, like all the money and sweat and blood I’ve spent over the last two years was for nothing. Suddenly, all my experiences with the awesome people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at tournaments and events were meaningless. What am I doing? Why am I doing this to myself? Is there anything to be gained from my involvement in this young, dumb, [relatively] poorly organized sport? And as a NAH rep, am I part of the problem?

You're not the only one who hates bike polo. We all hate bike polo, you were just the first person to put it into writing.
You’re not the only one who hates bike polo. We all hate bike polo, you were just the first person to put it into writing.

I don’t always love bike polo, in fact sometimes I hate it. I hate that no matter how hard I try, I am still not good enough to win a tournament, or oftentimes even just a pickup game. I hate that I feel like I have dropped several large stacks of $20 bills into a paper shredder for a bike that will likely snap in half while I’m riding it. I hate the rules and the regulations and the refs. I hate the people that make bike polo hate-able: the stuck-up bike snobs that call me “butt hurt” when I express frustration, the renegade pricks that threaten my well-being with dangerous and irresponsible play, and the care-free veterans that make me feel bad for trying or caring. Maybe I do care too much. Maybe I am trying too hard. Maybe I’m not macho or drunk or stoned enough. Maybe, paradoxically, I’m not invested enough, even though I write these blog posts about the best polo bike or the coolest video of a “pro” game. [Maybe I’m just feeling under-appreciated, and I’ll completely regret this post tomorrow.] But seriously, tell me, what does it take to get good at bike polo?

I can’t stop playing bike polo, I won’t stop playing. I’m too invested— monetarily, emotionally, physically. I’ve put in too much time to care whether or not I will win a tournament, a prize, or an award. And if I’m being 100% honest with myself, I’ve grown too much as a person to stop playing. I’m reading, writing, thinking and doing more than I ever have in my entire life. I have learned more about myself in a year than I had learned in the previous ten. And even though I doubt bike polo will ever have corporate sponsors or be featured at the X Games, I’ll know that I did something active, different, and interesting with my Sunday afternoons, instead of watching football, singing karaoke, and playing board games. I can do all that stuff any other night of the week. -ZS

Polo Specific Bikes: The Choice is Yours

Bike polo specific bikes are so tight. Tight in geometry, tight in the way people from California Cascadia say it, as in, “This pizza is so good, it’s hella tight.” There are new specs coming out every month and I, for one, welcome our new bike builder overlords.

If I had the money to build some new 26" wheels, I would get this bangin' bike and all new underwear (because the old ones would be moist-- in a fun way)
If I had the money to build some new 26″ wheels, I would get this bangin’ bike and a 12pack of underwear (because the old ones would be moist– in a fun way)

The mania started last month with the announcement of the 2014 version of the Hija de la Coneja, or as we call it colloquially in Boston, the Rabbit. Personally, I have coveted the Rabbit since Tobi got one last summer. As soon as he saddled up on his new bike, his game instantly stepped up. He dabbed less, he turned tighter, and he biked faster (although sometimes it still takes him forever to get physically onto the court). The only thing keeping me from getting a Rabbit is the cost of building brand new wheels. For some reason, switching from 700c to 26” feels like a big decision. I love the look of the bike, and at $500 for the shipped (!) frame and fork, it is a relatively low price on a huge upgrade.

In other worldly polo bike news , the European bike builder / power ranger Max Power releases some specs on his 2014 model of a 700c wheel polo bike. At €490, or approximately $665, it is a sleek aluminum alloy machine with smooth welds and pretty colors. Max Power metal was everywhere you looked at Worlds this year, and I would be interested to test ride the XL frame  to see if it can accommodate my long monkey arms. Personally I don’t know too much about the bikes, but clearly they are dope because people are kickin’ up the jams at tournaments riding these sexy steeds.

This is a dank, "buttery"  700c bike, but the price of admission is definitely going to keep some people from taking the plunge, myself included.
This is a dank, “buttery” 700c bike, but the price of admission is definitely going to keep some people from taking the plunge, myself included.

For those who want to stick with their current 700c wheel set, FBM just released the specs and geometry for the Ballista, a “new” polo specific frame that has been three years in the making. Built in America, this is the most premium local polo bike frame set your freedom-dollars can buy. Everything about this bike looks sexy, and everyone that rides one is wicked hella pro (meaning currently on blue chip polo teams). As much as I love the look of this bike and the promise of super tight polo bike geometry, I couldn’t ever see myself dishing out over $750 for a frame and fork that will likely end up in pieces on the court someday. I look forward to reading a review or hearing a friend talk about this bike someday— maybe Charlie Sprinkle, since I know for sure that he threw down on the pre-order.

Rustbelt hasn’t released anything “new” recently, but for those who are able to get a hold of him, Lou makes a pretty dank polo frame, called the Marco for 26” wheels. At every tournament I’ve ever been to, I see a frame snap at a weird place, and someone (usually Nico) yells “Should’ve got a Marco!” and everyone with a Marco frame laughs hysterically for an uncomfortably long time. Either way, I think Rustbelt builds a quality product in the USA, and judging by the way Redbeard rides his, the bike is built to last.

Not a stunner, but she gets the job done. This is my bike, Pake Rum Runner frame with a Soma Cross Disc fork. Cheapest bike on the market, but the most bang for your buck.
Not a stunner, but she gets the job done. This is my bike, Pake Rum Runner frame with a Soma Cross Disc fork. Cheapest bike on the market. Look, I’m still using yellow stuff. I’m a purist, ok?

At the end of the day, there are always budget specials for kids considering new polo bikes. My Pake Rum Runner has been holding up nicely, and despite its extra weight and wonky head tube angle, you can’t really beat the $180 price tag on the frame (before shipping). And despite the warnings, a large percentage of kids will always play polo on Marino and Velolocuma bikes. I’ve seen a lot of snapped forks on the internet, but for a serious looking polo frame I don’t know how anyone could overlook the price ($350 for frame and fork).

If you know of a polo specific bike that I overlooked, or if your budget bike is better than any of the ones I listed, please let me know in the comments section! -ZS

A Polo Player’s Wishlist

Merry Christmas or Happy Festivus or Have a Pleasant Whatever-You-Celebrate! I know it’s relatively dreary outside, but that’s ok. It’s just another reason to catch up on polo content such as Mr Do Video and Lancaster Polo and all the other great polo blogs and archives out there. You cannot deny that it is a wonderful life as long as you’re giving and getting some dank presents from the people you care about. Don’t worry about eating too much glazed Christmas ham or drinking too many winter warmers or crushing too many Christmas cookies; there’s always New Year’s Eve for making resolutions (and subsequently sabotaging yourself at every opportunity).

Here’s a short list of things on my holiday wishlist:

Looks like Santa can really kick it on a polo bike. I wonder which mallet shafts he uses: Creamy, Fixcraft, Northern Standard, or Modifide?

I guess I don’t really need much of anything else. If you think I left something important and necessary off my list, please let me know in the comments section. But really, I’m just thankful for my friends and family and I hope all of you protect your ligaments and scaphoids so we can get back to what is REALLY meaningful: scoring goals.

You guys, Let’s Never Forget This Christmas. -ZS

Happy Holidaze from BBP

Let's see Nick Kruse try this shit out and spartan kick someone in the forehead.
Let’s see Nick Kruse try this shit out. Spartan kick someone in the forehead, or stone cold stun someone over the boards.

From all of us in Boston, take it easy this week. We know that you will probably have to explain to your family members why your knees and elbows are covered in mysterious cuts and bruises. My advice? Make something up involving an interracial gang fight and/or subsequently rescuing stray cats from a fire. And don’t stress out about buying presents; if you haven’t bought anything for anyone yet, don’t freak out– just get them a gift certificate to the nearest Olive Garden and cross someone special off your list. 

December can be a tough time for bikers. Snow and salt on the ground, rain in your hair weighing heavy on your heart. Find a way to get some exercise: shovel your court, go on a run, join a polar bear swim club. Keep your blood pumping, so that when you get back on the court in March you won’t pop an artery.

Also I want to wish a very special Happy Birthday to Tyler Paul Farris, a Boston Bike Polo warrior-poet (currently on the disabled list with a busted shoulder #sadface). This kid knows how to have fun. Look, here he is spitting corn in my face:

Is that an ear of corn or are you just happy to see me? Best Friends Forever: The Holy Ghosts
Is that an ear of corn or are you just happy to see me? Best Friends Forever: The Holy Ghosts

All I’m saying is, if you know Tyler, reach out and tell him to sext you a picture of a smiling ghost.

And again, Happy Holidaze! -ZS

Disc Brakes: Don’t Let Your Bike Stop You

The mechanics of disc brakes are pretty impressive.
The mechanics of disc brakes are pretty impressive.

Mother Nature decided to dump a load of snow on us in Boston this weekend, and since my polo bike is the only bike I have with disc brakes (i.e. brakes that are functional in the snow), out of necessity I started riding it around town. It’s such a comfortable ride, I doubt that I’ll go back to my single speed commuter. Someone mentioned that trying to convince everyone to switch to disc brakes is “such a 2011 thing to do,” but I think it is worth repeating: disc brakes are awesome.

The most enduring sound byte that has come out of Boston Bike Polo in my time has been the adage, “GET A NEW BIKE!” And while that generally rings true (people are still playing on shitty old steel road bikes), the only update to my stallion that I really felt was worth the price of admission was a disc brake. All the pros have them.  I’ve been through four polo bikes, and I could go down the list and explain how each one went from assembled to demolished, but I don’t want to bore you.  Your internet minutes are valuable, and you have porn open in other browser tabs— don’t worry, I understand.  Suffice it to say, I destroyed many bikes in a spectacular fashion. The one thing that could have ultimately saved me a lot of money and time was a system of proper brakes.

Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy a new disc fork and an Avid BB7, but I can say with some authority that it would be the best money you’ll ever spend upgrading your piece of shit bike.  The advantages are innumerable, and the most important one is stopping power.  I am 200 lbs. and I can stop on a goddamn dime.  Fuck it, I could stop on any currency you put in front of me.  My disc brake makes me a better biker and a better polo player.  I can do more maneuvering with less momentum, and when it rains my brakes are still as sticky as maple syrup on your fingers at IHOP (except in this case, it’s desirable).

Would you try this with a tektro caliper brake? That would be fucking terrifying!
[Click on pic above to watch .gif] Would you try this with a tektro caliper brake? That would be fucking terrifying! This famous .gif does more for disc brakes than Avid’s copywriting team ever could.
I don’t know that I would ever go back to caliper brakes, and I don’t care which brand it is, they wouldn’t be as reliable as my disc brake.  That would like being upgraded to first class from coach, and then being told halfway through the flight that you have to get up from your heated blanket, put down your complementary champaign, and sit between two morbidly obese garbagemen with glandular issues and uncontrollable flatulence.  Caliper brakes just can’t stop me as fast or as soundly as my current setup, and a brake arm would certainly slam into my downtube when I jack-knife.  And really, when all is said and done, the only thing I want from a brake is a consistent and reliable deceleration.

I will grant you that V-brakes have their appeal, especially when your front and rear are paired up with a dual lever.  You can skid and slide, which can be useful skills if you have good balance.  Tobi uses this setup with great success; despite having a knee that was ripped to shreds and repaired with rubber cement and play dough, he’s very fast and super agile.  I just hate thinking that a V-brake is so reliant on having wheels that are very straight and true, which mine rarely are due to my playing “style.” I don’t care how many spokes you have, rims are still made of aluminum, and nothing lasts forever in polo.

Javier's setup: Fixcraft 48h disc hub, Velvet fork, Avid BB7, L'Esperance BonerGuard (w/ speed holes)
Javier’s setup (similar to mine): Fixcraft 48h disc hub, Velvet fork, Avid BB7, A L’Esperance BonerGuard (w/ speed holes)

Having sung all these praises for disc brakes, I will admit that the price could be a prohibiting factor for some people.  When I switched to a disc brake setup, I had to buy a new fork, a new hub, rim and spokes, and the BB7.  It took several months of scrimping, saving, and eating ramen noodles to pay for the parts and labor, but it instantly upped my game.  And I will admit the most infuriating thing about the Avid BB7: the red knob that controls the distance of the pad from the rotor– it gets lost constantly.  There is no replacement knob, only sadness.  The pad spacing is still adjustable, but it requires needle nose pliers and patience. Besides that, there are very few maintenance issues with the brake.

 

I’ll leave you with this thought: bike polo is a game of speed and quickness.  Decisions are made with a hair trigger, and you have to have the equipment to match your reflexes and reaction time.  Acceleration and deceleration are crucial, and you don’t want the weather to slow you down.  If you really want to take the game seriously, get a new bike– just make sure the new fork has disc mounts. -ZS

 

Too Cool for Rules? Don’t Be That Guy.

MARK IT ZERO, DUDE.
I am not proud that this meme is attached to this post. It’s so obvious, it’s the laziest thing I’ve ever done.

For fuck’s sake, follow the rules of bike polo. The rules are there to keep you safe (you fucking goon), and they are there to protect your disgusting body and your piece-of-shit bike and your expensive polo gear. The truly beautiful thing about our sport is that there are so few rules in the first place. I recently read something I really liked on League of Bike Polo:  every new sport is advanced in the space between the rules, and that strategic advancement is not dictated by the rules themselves. For example, with the development of bike polo specific equipment, such as mallet heads that enhance scooping ability and frames that center your weight more appropriately for hopping and pivot turning, we are each individually granted the new tactics, and those tactics give us exponentially more choices to make as a team on the court. And that’s a beautiful thing if you ask me.

This is a clean hit. Good job, Javier! Lead by example.
This is a clean hit. Good job, Javier! Lead by example.

Now, I realize that not everyone shares my peachy idealistic view of the rules. Some kids want to be Spartan renegades and play by their own rules, and I have been trying my best to appreciate that position. I understand that everyone interprets “the rules” differently, specifically the definitions for high sticking, slashing, and off-ball contact. Some kids want to play exclusively by our golden rule of polo, Don’t Be A Dick. But can’t you see how this reductionist point of view leads to less of a grey area and more of a black hole? If there are enough kids on the court playing by different definitions of a slash or hack, aggression will escalate wicked quick. Retaliatory strikes (guilty of these myself) are arguably even more egregious than offending actions such as slashing, because they are motivated by vengeance and anger, and are way more likely to cause accidents. Also, that’s like totally the definition of being a dick, and we all JUST agreed that we shouldn’t be dicks like thirty seconds ago.

If I were reffing this game, I would eject every player for tucking his shirt into his underwear. Also this is a high stick, that's a turnover.
If I were reffing this game, I would eject every player for tucking his shirt into his fucking underwear. (Also this is a high stick, that’s a turnover)

I want to take a moment and recognize the work Nick Kruse is putting into updating the rules. He recently showed me a few of his updates, and his language is so clear and his writing is so effective that I swear I saw a flock of doves fly out of his laptop’s screen. But what do we do when we have a disagreement about the rules at pickup? Shouldn’t the rules be more flexible (i.e. allowing wrist shots, throwing your mallet at the ball) since there are beginners present and we’re all just drinking and having fun? I suggested to our club that we use the most current version of NAH rules and regulations at pickup, but only to enforce turnovers. That way, we have good habits on the court when traveling to other cities for tournaments. You might argue that strictly reffing and enforcing turnovers during pickup games takes away the inherent punk-rock nature that is essential to the spirit of bike polo. To that, I say you are dead fucking wrong, kiddo. We all have lives outside of bike polo, even if we don’t want to admit it; we can’t go around breaking each others’ bones and sporting black eyes to the office— I’m not sixteen anymore. I know that taking hits and falls is part of the game, I know that the smart thing to do is wear pads and a face cage, because accidents (that is to say, accidents caused by Tobi) happen. But should I dress like a NFL linebacker just to play a pickup game of bike polo? I have responsibilities as a human being— I have cats to feed, man!

Classic Tobi (edit: this is actually zac) photo:@TP6017
Nice salmon head. But keep it under your shoulders or else it’s a turnover.
(photo: @TP6017)

Let me reframe my argument: I don’t particularly care if people break the rules. It doesn’t make me cry and it doesn’t make me cum, I am completely indifferent to it. Really, I just want to play polo, and if you break the rules and endanger my well-being, frankly that’s ok because I should have expected it— bike polo is dangerous. However, there is a line that any reasonable person should not cross, and it is an admittedly fuzzy line. How do you quantify the aggression in Lomax’s wild swing? If Zach Blackburn elbows you in the chest while you’re playing goal, how aggressively can you protect yourself? I don’t have the answers to these questions. I only hope that we can get back to what the game is truly about, in my opinion, which is mallet skill and speed. Picks and hits have a place in bike polo, but slamming on your friends’ steering arms and knocking them off their bikes seems unnecessarily barbaric. As Bill and Ted once said on their excellent adventure, “Be excellent to each another, and party on, dudes!” -ZS

These guys would NEVER do anything un-excellent like put a mallet under your front wheel.
These guys would NEVER do anything un-excellent like put a mallet under your front wheel.

HOLY SHIT – Assassins vs Beavers WHBPC13

Assassins vs Beavers

Assassins vs Beavers.

This is how bike polo is meant to be played. Hard-nosed, tough, physical and fast polo.

I can’t figure out how to embed the video into this post, so here’s the link: http://mrdovideo.com/2013/12/beavers-assassins/ ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Here’s what I was watching for:

Koyo vs
Look at that sunset! Watching Koyo on the ball is like watching an American Bald Eagle poach a salmon out of the Mississippi River.

Ball handling. Koyo is a master at keeping the ball where only he can control it, specifically when he has a lot of momentum. I don’t think I saw him turn the ball over once. Do you know how incredible that is, to play the World Champions and never lose the ball? Teams that control the ball dictate the pace of the game. The Assassins play fast, take hard quick shots, and take a lot of calculated risks playing goal. This works out for them because they are positionally perfect; they don’t get caught behind the net or get beat at halfcourt. And to the Beavers credit, they are not dumb. They play tight, tenacious defense with a relatively soft forecheck and wait for the Assassins to shoot, taking advantage of the Assassins mistakes and creep into the offensive zone. That’s where they excel, pressuring the ball into the net.

LOL u r lookin the wrong way dood
LOL u r lookin the wrong way dood

Picks and setting up plays. The Beavers do it better than anyone. Whenever a Beaver feels pressure from any of the Assassins, they drop the ball to the last man back and pick that attacker off the ball. That’s phenomenally unselfish teamwork. Mediocre players want to streak down the court and force a shot into a wheelcover every time, but that’s not a great way to score goals. Great players are often patient and calm, waiting for a shot to present itself after the defense breaks down. That’s what happens at 2:55, Dillman slowly snakes his way into Assassins territory, draws Lefty Joe out of the goal with a deke, and shoves a limp dick goal into the net. It’s not very entertaining, but you can’t deny that it’s effective.

If Nick Kruse falls down in the forest and there's no one there to make fun of him, did  it really happen?
If Nick Kruse falls down in the forest and there’s no one there to make fun of him, did it really happen?

Bike handling. This is less important than controlling the ball or setting up picks, but holy shit these kids are great on their bikes. Obviously when you dab, you’re of no use to anyone on the court. This game displays a lot of smart hopping by both teams. Staying upright and turning towards the middle of the court is your best bet for creating or disrupting opportunities on the ball. My favorite example comes at 4:50, where Koyo takes an errant rip at the net and the rebound bounces out to the top of center court. Koyo is totally out of position, but he still uses his momentum to pivot turn on his front wheel and maintain possession of the ball. He then curves around down the left wall and takes a perfect backhand shot, resulting in a goal for the Assassins. Poetry in motion.

Thanks to Mr. Do for posting these incredible games on the internet and giving me something to do for an hour. I can only hope that some Boston players get on the internet so I can make fun of them, too. -ZS

The Art of Losing Gracefully

If you have played bike polo in your lifetime, you have been a loser.  If you continue to play bike polo, you will definitely lose again.
If you have played bike polo in your lifetime, you have been a loser.
If you continue to play bike polo, you will definitely lose again.

Losing sucks. It’s probably the second most shitty thing that can happen while playing polo, after breaking your scaphoid. There are only four different outcomes from a game of polo: your team wins, your team loses, both teams tie, or the game ends prematurely because someone broke his scaphoid. There are so many emotions that we have to deal with as players, and not to get all psychiatric or anything, but having the emotional maturity to deal with a tough loss is SUPER important when dealing with angry drunk bikers holding long aluminum sticks.

I’ve recently changed my perspective about losing (or as I like to call it, “not winning”), and while the pain of losing still stings like a nest of wasps, I am much more gracious than I used to be. I used to throw mallets and mean mug my friends and yell and scream like a little bitch. It was embarrassing in the purest sense of the word; embarrassing for my teammates, embarrassing for my club, and most of all embarrassing for me. I’m not proud of it, but I am man enough to admit that I can be a sore loser.

When you lose, don't be this guy.
When you lose, don’t be this guy.

The change I made is specific to the way I relate to the game in my head. I make a very conscious effort to remind myself that I have to be friends with everyone I played with when I get off the court. On the court, this means that I can’t make fun of my opponents stupid shirt, no matter how fucking stupid it is. I can’t cheat or be a dick or be unsportsmanlike, it is unbecoming of a newly elected NAH Eastside Representative. Most importantly, I can’t avoid tapping mallets and saying “good game” to the guys who beat me, and I definitely can’t avoid acknowledging the effort made by the guys on my team.

I am genuinely happy for anyone that scores a sick goal on me. Seriously! It fuels my fire. It makes me want to get better at defending shots, it shows me what I should do to prevent it from happening again, and it gives me and my team a chance to adjust and figure out what we can do to thrash the other team for the rest of the game. But no matter what happens with regards to the score, the tournament seeding, or the bracket standings, I will say that you did a great job and congratulate you on a good game.

I can only try to improve myself and my game. I can’t control the people around me. I want to win just as much as the other team, and while a loss is disappointing, it isn’t the end of the world. There will be other games, other tournaments, other players and other teams. As long as we keep playing bike polo, there will always be winners and losers. And in a way, none of us ever really win, we just do a little better each time. -ZS

This guy is a huge loser, but for a slightly different reason. Maybe it's his denim jacket & jeans combo. Maybe it's his extra long fu manchu. But it's probably just his dual-dildo sideways bike.
This guy is a huge loser, but for a slightly different reason. Maybe it’s his denim jacket & jeans combo. Maybe it’s his extra long fu manchu. But it’s probably just his dual-dildo sideways bike.