I don’t play sports. I don’t like them and I definitely am too afraid of hurting myself for contact sports.
That said, Wednesday night bike polo has got to be one of my all-time, number one most favorite things, and is definitely one of the biggest highlights of my week.
A lot of folks don’t know what bike polo is, but it’s super simple — it’s horse polo, on bikes. Or, if you don’t know what horse polo is, it’s like hockey, on bikes. There are teams of 3 vs 3, with one person hanging back in the goal (teams will often change up who’s on goal mid-game though, there’s no designated “goalie”), and the others ride around the court with their polo mallets (ski poles cut down with pieces of PVC pipe attached to the end), chasing a street hockey ball (drained of its fluids) and trying to make goals on the other team. First team to 5 wins.
You don’t just play on ANY bike, though. A single speed (low gear) with one brake (usually the back brake unless you want to die, and usually the lever is on the left unless you’re left handed), straight bars and (usually) bigger mountain-bike tires. 26-29inches, generally, though some folks play on 700s. Bikes are generally a little too small for the rider, or at least lower to the ground than their normal rides. Most people have wheel covers to help block the ball and protect spokes from mallets and pedals. A few folks ride fixies, but most have a freewheel, and I know at least one guy here rides clipless though I have no idea how good an idea that really is or how many other people do. Oh, and since you’ll no doubt be running into walls and people, the more indestructible your bike is, the better.
Perfect example of a polo bike and mallet:
I still need to make wheel covers for my bike, but other ‘n that I’m all set up.
I think one of my favorite things about polo is how unofficial and DIY it is — people have a whole range of different franken-bikes and homemade mallets and some people wear lots of gear and some people have none and there are hockey gloves and all kinds of mismatched things. Teams play on street hockey rinks, on tennis courts, in parking lots and garages…and since it only takes 6 people to play, it’s easy to get a team together (hell, my dad is trying to get a little polo group together in his town).
I highly suggest searching around for a polo group in your area and checking it out. Most places are welcoming to newcomers, or even if you’re not sure about playing, at least WATCH a few games. It’s fun!