Rumor has it that the folks in charge want a crease rule. Chances are a crease is coming to a polo game near you. Here is a lil preview.
What are the specs of the future crease?
-A crease will extend about one foot out from the posts along the goal line.
-The NAH crease will have a 4 foot radius. Note that our nets are of NYC’s Red Menace Era vintage and are 2m wide so we used a 4.5 foot radius.
-The crease should be green gold and red.
How does the crease work? It is not perfect, but we’re still trying to smooth things out. Here is how its working for us:
-Only one defender may become stationary in the crease.
-Others defenders may enter the crease but only one can become stationary.
-No one can mess with a stationary person within the crease.
-When the ball is in the crease, anyone may enter the crease.
In Boston we don’t play much double goalie, so the crease hasn’t had a huge impact on game play. But between the crease and the popularity face offs have gained here, we might actually have to change the name of our game to Bike Hockey =^O
As women across the polo-verse descended upon Toronto for Ladies Army 666, a few lucky gals traveled through Boston as part of their journeys to and from the tournament. First, Gitti (BER) and I reunited in Boston, almost exactly one year to the day since we last saw each another in Berlin. Next, Jessi (SEA) took an unexpected route to Toronto via Boston, and came by for a night of pickup before road-tripping to Toronto with Gitti, Alan, Chrissy and I. On the tail end of Ladies Army, #3babesandnoplacetogo Julia (LDN/VAN/PAR/everywhere) Eryn (VAN) and Ali (BRI), woke up on Tuesday morning after the tournament and thought “Where should we go today?” “Boston!” DUH. And came through the Hub as the first pit stop on their epic journey across the northeast of North America (fabulously documented on instagram). Gitti and I traveled back together as well, and Gitti got to play at our Allston court one more time.
While Gitti was in Boston she took some amazing photos of the city, her companions, and Boston Bike Polo. Her photos capture the epitome of the Allston Court at the height of its New England summer glory. You can check out more of her incredible pictures of Boston and Ladies Army here.
Thanks to all the ladies who visited and made Boston apart of the Ladies Army tour. Come visit us again soon! -CF
On Saturday May 17th in association with Boston Shines, BBP players spent the day cleaning up Smith Park. The park is the home turf of Boston Bike Polo, and it has been due for a clean up. We picked up bottles, cigarette buts, about a million bottle caps, and some abandoned homeless people encampments. You can safely say Smith Park is a cleaner place this week. Help us keep it clean for the rest of the summer!
When the location change of the 2014 Eastside Thaw was announced I knew I wanted to go. These two courts in Frederick Maryland are probably the nicest on the east coast. I was a little weary of the format. Mixed skill level, shuffled teams? Was I gonna get stuck with a couple duds and just get slaughtered all weekend. I got shit for trying to sandbag on Facebook, but not having played a tourney in almost a year and only a couple pickup sessions under my belt since my injury I really had no idea what level I was playing at and how my body would react to tourney speed polo.
But the courts are so sweet, and I figured at worst I’d get a good early season shellacking to keep me humble.
There were actually two tournaments this weekend. The first was a 3v3 with the twist being teams were drawn from three decks of cards. All the players were split into three groups based on skill level (A,B,C) and each team got one player from each level. For the most part this system worked out and the teams were fairly even. Perhaps instead of A/B/C some teams looked like B/B/C or A/C/C.
Mixing skill levels in this way made for some really interesting polo. Not only were most people playing with teammates they might not know or have ever played with before, they were then given a letter that was supposed to mark their skill level.
It took me two games (a loss and a tie) to realize I could not carry my team on my own. I spent the first two games ball hogging and ignoring my teammates. I was forcing the ball up the court by myself and not finding the back of the net. It was once I relaxed and approached it more like pickup, focusing on passing and good communication that the team turned around.
Luckily I had great teammates who didn’t get pissed off at me, and worked hard to get us to the final. Troy from Lancaster was calm and steady and took it upon himself to hang back in net. When he did come up it was with speed and purpose. He scored the goal to put us into overtime in the semifinal with only a few seconds left. Arguably the most important goal of the day for us. Drew from Philly worked the midfield, winning back possession frequently and disrupting the other team’s offense. It was super rewarding to build a team with these guys over the course of the day.
So while I was very skeptical of this format coming in, I really came around to appreciating it. Did it make for the highest level polo possible? No, but that wasn’t the point. It’s a great format for bringing together people and raising everyone’s level. This is the kind of event that will make our region stronger in the long term.
Sunday was a typical bench tourney. As a top goal scorer I was one of the captains and got to pick Nick Vaughan so we won. That guy is really fucking good. One of my favorite memories of the tourney was watching him play against his teammate Alexis. It really felt like watching two Kung fu masters battling it out with their different styles.
My only complaint about the bench tourney is that ten players on a team is way too many. I was really trying to get everyone in to play, but the clock was running too fast and a lot of times guys would only get in for quick minute long shifts. I almost blew the final when I put in our C line not realizing there were only a few minutes left.
The Scoops (wrist shots)
So they allowed scoop shots at this tourney as they had the year before. I hadn’t played in a tourney where they were allowed since the bench ESPI in NYC a couple years ago. I remembered being very frustrated in that tourney with BBP players constantly scooping balls over the net instead of just taking shots. Aside from that and Lomax and a few others making a couple nice looking ones, they didn’t seem to play a very big role.
That was not the case this past weekend. The scoop shot took over games and how people were playing defensively and offensively. I think this was because of a few factors.
– Improved mallet head designs make it easier to grab the ball
– it was a laid back tourney so people were more willing to experiment
– goals were full size 4×6 ft nets so it was pretty easy to find the big gap at the top of the net
I’ll let others discuss the aesthetic merits of the scoop shot. It’s a skill to master, and it’s no surprise that the people with the best scoop shot also tend to be really good players without them.
And no one really knows what would happen to the game five years down the road if we legalized them today.
For me, what’s most interesting is how they affect defenses. A good scooper within a couple meters from net can beat a double goalie fairly consistently. Also if you soft lob a scoop into a double goalie, you are less likely to have a hard rebound to defend. You have to keep strong pressure on the forecheck, which is something people say they want to see. Turtling up and letting a guy pick his corner out isn’t gonna work.
People say goalies would adjust and learn how to block them. I’m not so sure. If you need to keep your mallet down to block your five hole and bottom corners, can you really also use it to protect your top corners? Are goalies really gonna have to be popping wheelies and endoes to block shots? With a shot a goalie can predict trajectory based on the head angle on contact, with a scoop, the shooter can change trajectory during the release. I dunno I guess it could be done.
This tourney was a blast. I got out of the house, got to play polo all weekend with new homies and old buds. The drive there and back wasn’t so bad. I got to travel for the first time with members of BBP’s young guard, Zac, Nick, and Charlotte. They repped Boston so hard both on and off the court. There was an amazingly consistent waffle maker at the hotel which was a big hit. We took a sweet bike ride through the old town of Frederick and saw some sweet historic stuff and forgot to Instagram it. I got in on a couple bad jokes and made my throat sore heckling and shouting at my teammates. And now sitting here looking at all the pics and remembering the good times, it’s like McDonald’s.
Before GQ, even the Beavers put their time in on the Allston Courts.
Gus snapped this photo for legitbikepolo.com at ESPI IV in Boston, 2009. No nets, ski poles and not even one front brake. And take a look at these whips! What a long way we’ve all come since 2009, except Alexis, he hasn’t changed a bit.
Heres to another 4 years of mind bending progression for our sport!
Many inches of snow and ice are standing between us and our home polo turf. 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. 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. photo: Grace Donnelly
If I see one more picture of Minneapolis’ indoor court I am going to smash my computer screen in anger (jk/not jk). It’s JANUARY and you are in the land of the POLAR VORTEX, you should be suffering and not playing polo. Every picture I see of people hanging out inside, drinking beers on couches, and mallets upon mallets lined up for pick-up makes me wonder why I ever left MSP makes me burn with rage.
Here in Boston, we don’t take winter polo lightly. We earn our court time. In fact, we’ve stop playing polo altogether. We just shovel out our court for the fun of it, and then watch it accumulate snow again. That’s the real way to get swol for the upcoming season. You should see our biceps.
This weekend we dug out the court on Sunday, and brought winter polo to a new level with two key additions.
Water pumps people! That’s some next level shit. Doesn’t matter that it hardly made a dent in the flooded corners. It’s the thought that counts.
Finally we did get in half a game on Sunday as the sun was setting and people gingerly rode around piles of salt on the court. But then we realized it wasn’t as fun as clearing the court so we went home. The end. -CF
There has been some literature on the internet (you know what) this week that encouraged me to explore my feelings towards bike polo. At first I thought bummed things; I didn’t feel comfortable questioning the legitimacy of the activity which I hold so dearly. But I quickly realized I was becoming the victim of the law of attraction: Yes, I’ve spent many nights and years and dollars and beers, and polo may have burnt me out once or twice. But, being burnt out ain’t that hard of a problem to solve. I mix it up, take a break, go snowboarding, hang with old friends, switch to flat pedals. You’ll feel the love. I’ll feel the love.
I love EVERYTHING about it. I love the all bike polo people and all the bike polo places. I love all the bike polo clubs, all the bike polo companies, and all the bike polo rules (except high-sticking). I love all the bike polo blogs and all the bike polo forums. I love the bike polo #hashtags and instagrams, and I especially love the bike polo nudes. I love the places bike polo has taken me. I love Burlington, Vermont, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Vancouver, British Columbia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Montreal, Quebec, Lexington, Kentucky and Seattle, Washington. I fucking love Seattle Bike Polo. I love that polo gives me an excuse to take a long road trip or a quick weekend to the other side of the continent, no matter how broke I am. I love traveling with my bike. I love taking my bike on an airplane. I love taking off my fork when I am packing up my bike. I love putting my bike together in the airport, but not as much as I love how stoked OTHER people are when they see me putting my bike together in the airport. I love not knowing where the fuck I am when I leave a new airport on my bike. I love how when you show up to pickup from the airport, you are hanging out with the same people you would have been if you’d lived in that city your entire life.
I love riding my polo bike. I love riding in a gang filled with all sorts of other polo people and polo bikes from near and far forming a mob spanning the street in the night. I love the whirrly sound the mob makes because everyone has the same sick freewheel. I love riding TOO fast on my polo bike, skitching across the Mass. Ave. bridge or up Pine Street. Thats a guaranteed adrenaline high. I know its not safe but I just love polo too much to wait any longer to get to the court and play. I love meeting a random polo player on the street because I noticed that they’re riding a polo bike. That’s how I started playing polo in the first place.
I love all of the polo people, even if they are from New York. I love the polo people with beards and shitty tattoos, and the ones without beards or with good tattoos. I love all of the polo people from other countries who have crashed on my couch and spoke with funny accents, and who did or would let me do the same at their place. I love all of the polo people who travel across the GLOBE to play polo. I love all of the polo people who lend me bike parts when mine get fucked up. I love the polo people who share tokes of herb. I love the polo people who share swigs of booze, especially when they’re from Kentucky. I love all of the polo people I will one day meet. But more than all of these tangible things, I love how much fucking PASSION all of these polo people have.
I love bike polo even when it’s dirty. I love cheap shots, unless someone gets hurt. I love polo heckles, especially if they cut deep. I love that I’ve lost significant amounts of blood playing polo. I fucking love when I get slammed cleanly into the boards, even more when it’s by Dirks.
I love playing pickup. I love all throw-ins. I hate dabbing. I love how stoked a new player gets when they score their first goal. I love that I can spend an entire day at the polo court and not get bored. I love that it gives me an excuse to drink outside because I love drinking outside. I love that shotgunning brings us together.
I love that reggae music sounds just a bit more irie during a polo game. I love when someone is doing a jay mid court and I go stop next to them and they hold it up to my mouth. It is the perfect pit stop. I also love saving the puff in my lungs and blowing it into the opponents face as intimidation. I love trying trick shots instead of taking wide open gimme goals. I love taking long shots and I love it even more when they go in. I love when there are only six players so you never have to stop playing. I love when we keep playing during downpours. I love that we played last week, two days after a blizzard.
I love that polo love is spreading with no end in sight. -Addison
(And to prove I’m not alone and full of shit here is a small collection of photos of other people who also love bike polo):
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 myfriends! 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?
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