NAH Bench Champs – Where does your club stand?

BenchPoints

As you know, NAH announced that they will be hosting a NAH Club Bench Championship. Basically, the 12 top polo clubs in North America will be traveling to Lexington, KY this fall to find out who is the best. The catch: clubs will be invited based on their 2014 NAH Series Rankings. In each of the NAH qualifiers, and at the NAHBPC, players will earn points for their club.

For the  ranking at the NAH qualifying series players will earn the following points: 1st : 10 Points; 2nd: 7 points; 3rd: 5 points; 4th: 4 points; 5th: 3 points; 7th: 2 points; <7th 1 point.

At the NAH Championships players will earn the following points: 1st: 50 points; 2nd: 35 points; 3rd: 23 points; 4th: 15 points; 5th: 10 points; 7th: 7 points; 9th: 5 points; 13th: 4 points; 17th: 3 points, <17th: 2 points.

It may not seem like it, but 12 clubs is a lot. Obviously, clubs with teams advancing to and performing well at Nationals have the advantage. However, clubs that roll deep but don’t necessarily have podium teams will squeeze smaller squads out.

The top spots will surely be taken by the historically top performing clubs, aka Cascadia: Seattle, East Van, Portland. San Fran will be a gimme because of The Beavers and that other handsome team from Cali.  But the rest are up for grabs.

I was hecka curious to see what the spread looked like, especially with big dreams for Boston’s future in bench league. So I nerded out HELLA and tabulated up the stats from the 2103 qualifier. Heres what it looked like:

(Note that I accounted for a few small “changes” from the NAHBPC 2013 podium.com results: Seattle gets the commish, Chicago gets Lomax, San Francisco gets the Beavers(duh), Boston is fanged, Porch gets the rad caps 2x points bonus, Emmet doesn’t count and as well as few other low point transfers from folks’ relocation.)

EDIT 3-18-14 13:00: Greg Valentine has been moved from CHI to ATX. Woadie’s city points go to EVAN.

 

2013 NAH City Ranking
City City Rank City Points City Players
SEA 1 218 19
SF 2 179 10
EVAN 3 49 5
ATX 4 37 9
PDX 5 32 3
BOS 6 24 6
TO 7 23 6
OTT 8 21 6
LEX 8 21 4
SKN 10 15 3
NYC 10 15 5
TLH 10 15 6

Rad! Get top 3 and secure your club an invite. For all other clubs, it is a toss up. You  will be rewarded for bringing a whole bunch of players (Austin), for bringing only a few if they kill it (E.Van & PDX), or if you do both (Seattle). And don’t forget about the sleeper clubs that couldn’t make it to their qualifier last year. Either way, I’m stoked to see what the points totals will look like in 6 months from now.

If you’re interested, please help contribute so we can get a full season of stats by adding your regional qualifier using the attached spreadsheet. Just replace the proper existing cells with your results, and you can send it back to me [aminott(at)gmail.com]. I’ll keep the updated tallys attached to this post.
EDIT 3-18-14 13:00: CASCADIA Quals has been added. I will update cumulative totals once all qualifiers are tabulatedClick for excel spreadsheet

If you know your history Then you would know where you coming from

Heres a cool little #tbt video from 2007 about the New York scene leading up to ESPIs.
Its a rad look into polos formative days, when polo was still like the wild west. Its great to see that how much dedication they had through the winter! Also Doug D. if you’re reading this will you sell us hardcourtbikepolo.com?

So, someone shave Zach’s beard for the greater good. And I wish I didn’t know Chombo’s name was actually John:(

First of 2014: Hockey Town USA

Many inches of snow and ice are standing between us and our home polo turf.
1e97020c9bed11e385ae12776198573d_8 photo: bearcat2004
Two weeks after returning from Puerto Rico our polo needs had to be fulfilled. So we loaded up and headed to Saugus for the first Hockey Town USA session of 2014. We hadn’t been back since the Eastside Qualifiers. Nothing had changed.
hockeytowntoni photo: bostonbikepolo
A few new friends joined us. Justin, Grace and Dominique are photojournalists who are going to be following us on our adventures over then next few months. We like them, and we like the photos they’ve taken. We’re looking forward to what they have up their sleeves.
tumblr_n1gjckwwZN1topeiuo1_1280photo: Grace Donnelly
And then we capped the night with a lazy susan at Kowloons
fedd34009c4511e3b3260e53db4a3fd9_8 photo: bearcat2004

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

Dedication + Physical Labor = POLO

Over the past week Mother Nature dumped about 15 inches of powder snow on the city of Boston. Most urbanites were stoked, as it meant they didn’t have to report to work or school. But Boston Bike Polo folks were fully aware of reality of the situation: we may have to actually heed Lancaster Polo’s advice.

Not playing Polo this weekend was a an option we could not swallow, so a small crew headed to Allston yesterday to assess the situation and see if we couldn’t make the court playable. Upon arrival, much to our surprise, a 2014 miracle! A rogue group of out-of-town hockey enthusiasts had clear half of the court! We went to work and moved a butt ton of snow! When the temps buldge above freezing today, our court will be ready for a january whack session.

Some may think we’re crazy for spending our breaking backs, hauling snow. But we’re not crazy. We are just polo players.

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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