London bike polo

Back to London, my second home.  It’s summer here, sunny and warm at about 23c.  The birds are tweeting and everyone’s in a good mood.  After all, It’s Summer in England.

After borrowing a friend’s bike, I rode down to one of the London bike polo meeting places and spent a good weekend hanging out with the poloistas here.. People are friendly, up for a chat and happy to chat about tips and tricks.  Beer is a key ingredient, as is a good sense of humor and it’s in abundance.  There are more than a few similarities between the Melbourne and London bike polo groups, occasionally calling “shuffle” after the opposing team scores, playfully mocking eachother, and enjoying plenty of finely brewed beverages.

Almost everyone here rides a road bike frame with 700c wheels (more space to block the ball, they say) and after having the EHBP champs, the wheel covers are pretty spectacular. It’s on another level!

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The bikes are cool too, nicely painted and manicured vehicles.. Unlike some of our ratty looking bangers, these bikes have been sanded down,powder coated, then built up with style in mind.

Lots of people run Fixies, but also a lot of people run SS freewheel..there’s no sneering between them.

Their court is about the size of Northcote but has better ashphalt.. it’s completely edged which is really handy, they don’t have to bring anything with them.  There are several courts in London, depending on the season and the day, Some are in South London and some in North/East London.  What’s the difference? About an hour on the tube, or 1.5 hours riding.

Their throw in system is pretty basic, big pile, divide up the mallets into threes and place the sets of threes somewhere off-court. They don’t chalk out the sets or do next/next next at all.
The gameplay happens a lot closer to the goal, most of the time right in front of it and like Damon has mentioned with the North American leagues the goalie is a crucial part of the game. There is always a goalie, people take turns at it and are generally pretty good about it.

The rules were pretty much the same, with a few small differences.  The main difference are these: 1) After conceding a goal, your team may not pass half way or shoot until two of the defending team have two players facing you.   2) you can’t feed the ball back through the goal or use the ball if it rebounds back through the goal, it must be touched twice before you can shoot again.

There were some amazing plays unfolding infront of me throughout the weekend, but I can only recall two clearly

One example was a very skilled player (Mike/Urban Zombies, Blue bike with Red coreflute) rode up parallel to the goals, went for a shot, overbalanced, rear wheel started skidding out, hit the ball and as his bike started sliding into a 180 the ball sailed in to the goals. Amazing.

Another play was another skilled player (Gabes) who slowly rolled up to the goals, gently tapped the ball toward the goal, then as the goalie went to knock the ball away, Gabes hooked the goalie’s mallet, taking him out of play and allowing the ball to roll in to the goals.  Absolutely killer.  That move was apparently demonstrated by the Seattle guys, who came over to London for a few matches.  I wish I was there for that match!

Some more bike photos to feast your eyes on.

Next up, Budapest Bike Polo. Stay tuned.

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