I was first introduced to bike polo while riding my bike through Tapawingo Park last spring. Riverside Skating Center was packed with weird-looking bikes and happy looking people. I watched as people wielding makeshift mallets rode haggard bicycles and tried to whack a small orange ball into goals on each side of the rink. My heart swelled and I fell in love instantly with something I knew nothing about.
Bike polo is beautiful. The rules are simple, the play is fast, and the game is fun, outrageously fun. Two teams of three aim to put a roller hockey ball into a goal on a rectangular court. The ball starts in the center, a player from each team “joust” to gain control of the ball. Goals can only be shot, not shuffled. In other words, contact with the ball must be on the end of the mallet. Once a goal is scored, the ball is taken back to the middle of the court. Last and most important rule: you’re on a bike and you never get off the bike. Your feet hit the court and you must ride back to mid-court and slap your mallet on the wall. The simplicity of rules does not reflect the complexity of play. Bike polo is also aggressive and filled with strategy personal to each team.
Mondays and Wednesdays in the GLA have since become the best weekday nights of my young adult life . I spent my first few weeks as an enthusiastic spectator and eventually (with much heckling and peer pressure) became bold enough slink onto the court and spend the majority of my time smashing into the fence and laughing hysterically. Bike polo is still held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8pm. With adequate notice, an extra bike can be provided for first timers.
Some of my favorite people on the planet play bike polo, and sixteen wildly talented teams from all over the Midwest will compete in the Star City closing tournament this year. The free, all-day event (9am to 11pm) will be held at Riverside Skating Center, 100 Tapawingo Dr., IN 47906 on November 10th.