Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Queen Square Chukka

We all like a bit of deviation once in a while, it's keeps us 'in check' and this was certainly true of the usual Monday night meeting held at Queen Square rather than the Deaner which was snow covered like everywhere else. I took the decision that we might live to see 2011 if we did this on grass rather than concrete so with a camping stove, wine, spice, brandy and a sense of err.. not having any sense we relocated, upped the ball size and played our first tundra bike polo. Check out the video:


Friday, 10 December 2010

The lights are on

And there are games happening on Monday and Thursday evenings. That is all.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Hay Bales, Hip Flasks and Homies

At the invitation of the lovely people at Oxford Bike Polo, five of us ventured up to Blenheim Palace to play in their annual Town Meets Country tourney. Despite the weather doing its best to sabotage things, it turned out to be a pretty good day.

The premise of the tourney is basically hard court polo, but on grass. Due no doubt to the utterly rancid weather, only three teams entered, so a podium place was finally within our grasp - or was it?Playing on grass turned out to be hilarious and frustrating in equal measure. When you're playing on a surface which has taken on the consistency of blancmange with turf on top, chances are that when you go for the ball from the other end of the court, you're going to end up pulling a 20 foot skid, overshooting the ball completely, and exiting the play area head first. On the other hand, the lumpiness of the surface ensured that getting going again once you'd stopped was a hit and miss business, with wheels tending to find all possible holes and divots on the pitch.

Despite the rain hanging around for most of the day, the pitch actually held up OK. The players were divvied up into 5 teams of 3, and battle (of an extremely laid-back variety) commenced.

Unbelievably, the bike polo wasn't the main event of the day - that honour went to the Brompton World Championships - but there was also a cyclocross race (with a pan-flat, passport control-style course), a time trial and a few other events going on. All in all a pretty good day out.

And the result? One Bristol team (mine) failed to make an impression, except with dress sense. The other (augmented by itinerant Oxford wildman Sean) put in a workmanlike performance to finish second.

But the overall victory was taken by one of the teams from Cardiff (playing under the groan-inducing name of "The Taffy Hammers") who got to pose on a proper podium with a proper trophy. Big thanks to Simon, Dan and Rebecca for organising an original event that brought polo to the public. Next year? Definitely!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Some more pics by James (Growup) here
A track pump was found at the court after the tournament. Let me know if it's yours.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Me so tourney

Our first ever tourney is done and dusted, and what an amazing day it was. It was a steep learning curve for sure, but we managed to fumble our way through it somehow.

Following much pimping of the tourney on national polo forums and a flyering trip to the London Open, teams from Bristol, Cardiff, London, Sheffield and Oxford participated. Due to a few last-minute dropouts and entries, we ended up with exactly 16 teams - if we'd thought things through we might have limited entries to this amount to start with, as it makes formatting the tourney so much easier.

The barriers for the main court arrived bang on time, and the Cardiff crew gave us a welcome hand to set them up. After further agonising over the format we decided to seed the teams, with out-of-towners playing local sides. The first round was drawn and we were off!

In the meantime some of the unicycle hockey club Severn Wheelers showed up to spice up the random friendly games taking place on the second court. A unicycles versus bicycles showdown resulted in a whitewash (unicycles have more manouverability, but can't get round the court as quickly or get as physical with the opposition). A mix of wheel numbers within the teams definitely added something fresh to the game, and is something we'd like to explore further in the future.

Both sides from Sheffield played solidly, while the Toffees from Oxford displayed a take-no-prisoners attitude. Although lots of the visiting teams showed awesome levels of skill and/or willingness to play to the death, it quickly became apparent that the two London teams were the favourites. The final was a convincing win by The Whisperers over their metropolitan peers London Pride, with Sheffield's Imperial in third place.

Then it was over to the prizegiving. Sponsors Crumpler, Chunk Clothing and Taylored Cycles ensured that we had several hundred quid's worth of goodies to dish out, and the court was wetted with Asda's finest fizz. Overall the day ran relatively smoothly, thanks to help from loads of people. In particular our gratitude goes out to:

  • Bristol Cycle Festival, whose small grants scheme enabled us to hold the tourney in the first place.
  • Dial-A-Geek for making up our budget shortfall.
  • SAS Barriers for saving us a world of hassle by agreeing to deliver and collect on the day.
  • Rich, Reg, Tabs and the other regulars.
  • Gary and Jo for looking after everyone so well.
  • Posh (Taylored Cycles) for fixing everyone's bikes (including a load of Deaner hood rats who had nothing to do with the tourney)
  • The random bloke with the leaf blower for cleaning up the court.
  • Ceels for amazing cakes.
  • Severn Wheelers for adding some unicycle hockey madness to the mix.
  • Cardiff, Sheffield and London for stepping in on refereeing duties and giving us an insight into the brain-aching world of tourney formats.

There are some photos on our Flickr site - feel free to add yours to the group we've set up.


We're already thinking about next year.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Sunday's coming

Hope everyone's ready for Sunday! Just a reminder that we still need:

Court builders: we're closing off the ends of one court with traffic barriers to keep the ball in play and make it spectator-friendly. If you can help assemble the barriers and give the court a sweep, be there at 9.30 am!

Referees: If you've played before and don't mind refereeing a couple of games, let me know.

Linesmen: ditto.

Photographer: With all the effort that's gone into organising the event, it would be great to have someone there papping. If you can take a semi-decent snap, get in touch.