I’m an avid cyclist and I love everything about bicycles. I work at a bike shop, I volunteer at a bike co-op, I read tons of blogs about cycling culture. I love reading about new innovative parts and looking at beautifully built bikes. I love reading about professional cycling events like this. Yes even THE Tour [de France].
But buy far one of my favorite things to do on my bike is play bike polo.
Yes, like Prince William on a horse, but not quite the same.
Bike polo is played on grass (grass polo) or on a hard surface like asphalt (hardcourt polo). Tallahassee doesn’t have a lot of country side but does have a lot of parking garages so I play predominantly hardcourt polo.
Both teams use mallets, usually made from modified ski poles, to hit a ball into the opposing teams goal. Now here’s the trick, if you fall off your bike and put your foot on the ground, you must remove yourself from play and “tap out” by pedaling to the middle of the court and tapping either wall with your mallet.
This is my bike:
Things to notice:
Mallet: Made from a company specializing in bike polo specific supplies with a mallet head I made from HDPE gas piping.
Helmet: Skate helmet with a roller hockey face-mask tastefully attached with zipties (in case of a high flying ball. I like my teeth.)
Front wheel cover: To keep stray mallets (including my own) out of my spokes, and to help block the opposing teams shots when I’m playing goalie.
Left hand rear brake: Most bikes have the rear brake handle on the right side, but being right handed, I carry my mallet over there, so I need to break with my left. I use only a rear brake because it allows me to lock up my back wheel and skid around. With a front brake it would be too easy to throw myself over the handlebars.
The game has fairly simple rules:
1. Two teams of three people.
2. If you “foot down” you must tap the designated point, usually on the wall, before returning to play.
3. Goals must be scored with the small end of the mallet, otherwise it’s a “shuffle” (as in shuffleboard) and the goal doesn’t count. Passing between players can be done by any means necessary.
4. Like contact is okay. Body to body, bike to bike, mallet to mallet. Any other contact is illegal and just not cool.
I’ve met some of my best friends playing polo. I’ve traveled all over the southeast and seen some really cool places. But really it’s the joy of the game that keeps me going back.
Clips from this years World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship. Oh yeah, it’s a thing.
This video is a little scary to the beginner. Understand that here in Tallahassee, we don’t go quite as fast or as hard as the guys above. We love new people and are always welcome to help anyone who is interested build a bike and get started.
Thursdays at 9pm in Parking Garage #5. Macomb and St. Augustine. If you don’t want to play, just come and hang out. Tallahassee Bicycle Polo Society