Published on May 9, 2013 | by Henry Fry0
Become the Fresh Prince of London’s bizarre new crazeTired of mainstream, over-commercialised sell-out sports?
Desperate for excitement, bruises and independent coffee house meet-ups, preferably in East London?
Look no further, bike polo is the sport for you.
Don’t adjust your Ray Bans, you’re not reading this wrong – polo of the fixed-gear variety isn’t so much the sport of kings like its equine cousin, but the pastime of fresh princes.
Roll up those short-shorts, flick that licorice rollie, and get on your bike with ALN’s simple guide to London’s sickest sport.
Step 1: Genesis
Like Kabbalah or Scientology, the London bike polo scene is as much about being part of an impenetrable network as it is about the spins you crack out on the hard court.
Get the look – olympian on a Cheap Monday – lycra, vintage cycling caps, knee pads and Nike high tops. At least one facial piercing is required by all serious competitors. Stone washed denim cut-offs are optional.
Teams composed of three to five players compete on whatever surface is available.
Step 2: Pompeii
Learn the history; grow the tash! Go full Victorian handlebar and you’ll be reminising about the very foundations of bike polo.
Originally invented by Irishman Richard J Mecredy in 1891, it only took six years before societies sprung up in both the USA and Great Britain.
The modern version took fixed (gear) form in Seattle in 1999, but nowadays London is where it’s at for a bike battle.
Step 3: Bad Girls
Listen ladies, splicing spokes and fracturing femurs isn’t just the preserve of your tatted band-babe bf.
Founded in 2009, the London Hardcourt Bike Polo Association (LHBPA) has for the past two years organised women-only ‘Hell’s Belles’ tournaments in London.
Now there is no excuse: grab you mallet and get ready to compete with previous international winners like the Polish/British ‘Penis Flytraps’ or European mash-up ‘Shotgun Sisters’.
Step 4: Tessellate
On a date, three’s a crowd. On the court, it’s a team. Nevertheless contact must stay on a ‘like to like’ basis – bike-to-bike, mallet-to-mallet, body-to-body, with no third person touching.
Similarly, skin can brush skin, but not stick. If it does, you must tap the side of the court – not only is it embarrassing during the frenzy of the game, it will also delay making it to the winning score of five points. In other words, that’s five tiny balls in the back of the tiny net from your long-shafted mallet. Score!
Step 5: Nuclear Seasons
Offering much more than its aristocratic counterpart, bike polo is not for the faint hearted – or the badly dressed.
However, anyone is entitled to watch (vintage eyewear willing) and are guaranteed to witness the ride of a lifetime. The LHBPA organise events and meet-ups throughout the year, so check their website for upcoming chances to join in.
Alternatively you can also go to cyclist hangouts like Look Mum No Hands! to sip a chai latte and grease up your carbon rods with likeminded, Lycra-clad company.