Boulder Grass Bike Polo

303Cycling spent last Sunday afternoon with Boulder Bike Polo on the grass. We’ve had a great time watching (and playing!) so here is some info you’ll want to know to get involved. We asked a cross section of players about how they got involved, their polo rides and what you should know to start. Here are their answers:

[303Cycling] How did you get involved with Boulder bike polo and how long have you been playing?
[Doug] A cycling buddy of mine played back in highschool/college and had gone on for years about how much fun bike polo was and that we should play in Boulder. We never could generate much enthusiasm for it. I cannot remember what pushed him over the edge, but he convinced Sports Garage to front something close to $175 bucks for a bike polo “starter kit” he ordered online, and we were off. That was in October 2000. I was unemployed at the time, so I took over organizing the games and making sure the equipment showed up and so forth. I became the defacto ring leader and have been ever since.
[Sam] My Fiance's boss invited me out to play after he found out I loved anything to do with bikes.
[Keri] I was taking advantage of the great weather in January this year and noticed some bikers milling around on the grass. I knew they had to be playing polo. Recently replanted in Boulder from Gainesville Florida I was thrilled to see some of my people! Of course they let me join in and immediately I felt at home. Turf polo will kick your ass and allow you a great time!
[Sean] I moved to CO in 2000 & coincidently my realtor played in in Louisville with thin wiffle bats & I honed the skillz with them. That group fell apart & I joined Boulder group in 2003. They played with mallets? WTF? I've been chasing Doug & co ever since.

[303Cycling] What kind of bike do you play on and how did you modify it for polo?
[Doug] I’ve built at least half a dozen polo bikes for people over the past decade. My preference is for single chainring, single cog, single brake, but some people like gears in which case I’ll keep the rear cogset. Most of my polo bike creations have been alley or dumpster finds. I found an old yellow Dorado with U brake in the alley and set it up for a friend. I was at household hazardous waste recycle dropping off old paint when I noticed a Schwinn Technium in the dumpster. I pulled it out and had it as a loaner bike for polo until last year. I play on a 1985 Specialized StumpJumper that I found abandoned on a bike rack outside the unemployment office in Boulder shortly in Fall 2000. It has one gear and a rear brake only. Lugged steel frame, chromed chainstays, chromed sloping fork crown. I broke a brake boss a couple years ago but Walt at Waltworks attached a new one for me—I wasn’t ready to put this pony down!
[Sam] I ride my old Barracuda XX Team race bike. The front brakes are removed as well as the front derailleur. The rear brake lever moved to left side to allow mallet handling with my right hand. Two speed rear wheel (custom polo trued courtesy of too many t-bone crashes)
[Keri] I use my single speed - Bianchi WUSS, I put an easy gear on but left everything else alone. My right brake is still on rear!
[Sean] I have three polo bikes in various states of disrepair.

  • Found in river: Yellow Specialized with pink graphics, white turbo saddle
  • Traded for Air Conditioner: formerly mint Trek 8:30. Stock but swapped brakes.
  • Frame only: Specialized Rock Hopper Comp - was purple but had to be torched once. I have a vision for rear disc brakes only (not worry about wheel true!), stout wheels & single speed.

[303Cycling] What should a newbie know about grass bike polo before showing up on a Sunday afternoon?
[Doug] Don’t show up “to watch”, show up “to play”. It’s neither as dangerous nor as aggressive as you might think, but I still encourage a helmet. We have all the equipment needed, just bring your bike and that helmet. You’ll definitely improve your acceleration and bike handling skills if you become a regular player.
[Sam] I am the newest of regular players and the rules/advice given to me was: The ball handler has the right of way. Mallets and ball are fair game, bikes and people are not. Overall, play like you would with friends. A bit of my own advice: don't get your mallet stuck in your front wheel...it sucks. Also, if Doug gets you one on one, he will probably own you...but it's still a fun time with awesome people.

[Keri] It's more about control than speed. You'll learn some serious handling skills and get a reality check in coordination. Eat your wheaties and come with a good attitude. Most people aren't good until they're a few games in. It takes some time to learn to ride with the mallet and hit the moving ball while people are trying to distract you!
[Sean] Practice your sprints. Fast breaks score points.

This is the last Sunday they’ll play at Foothills (weather permitting). Summer games will be during the week in the evening days to be determined at Howard Hueston Park at 34th/Iris. Look on 303Cycling for polo tourny’s and events and join yahoo groups to be notified of every game.

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