London Open Bike Polo Tournament 2011 - Hackney Downs
Posted 1 August, 2011
For fans of polo, bikes, impressive displays of mad bike skills and mallet wielding (and those of you with any passing interest in bike polo, some rather nice bikes, t-shirts, and less mainstream sports) this weekend saw the running of the 2011 London Open Bike Polo Tournament in Hackney Downs. You know you're intrigued...
Yes, bike polo. What of it? You've never played, nor heard of the sport? Fancy that..
A brief primer
Teams of three face off in an area about the size of a basketball court marked out by a set of wooden boards, the object is to manipulate the ball (a street hockey ball) into the other team's goals - each the size of a small kidly hockey target thingie. Feet may not touch the floor, play nice and in a way that doesn't endanger anyone (or their kit) and well, that's kind of the core of it. Borrowing a little from polo, I'd say that the game shares a feel in common with errm, ice hockey actually. Less aggro though, better bikes, and much better outfits.
The key to the game is not in speed, but in skills and control. It's not a big court so being able to pick your angles, maintain uprightedness, and perform deft slice shots and smacking power drives while leant over and feathering the brakes off-handed is going to help you more than the acceleration of a demon. You can be hyper aggressive, but the targets themselves reward accuracy over strength.
Alas, I'm new to the sport and I can honestly say that I've never swung a mallet in anger so I'm not an authority as to how it plays (just how it looks). I'll leave it to the LHBPA to give you a better idea of the nuance and the rules.
The London Open 2011
This weekend, over two days, the abovementoned LHBPA hosted the London Open 2011 in Hackeny Downs - essentially, providing a weekend filled with some neat-o bike polo action. I only became aware of this while watching the Tour at 'look mum no hands!' (probably my favourite cafe of the moment and likely to remain so for the future) and seeing a sign. After a moody Saturday morning, props to the lovely Gwendolyn for getting interested and agreeing to come along and make an afternoon of it.
For those of you missing out (and you did miss out), here's LHBPA's team roster/results page, and a few choice photos from the day. More over in the gallery of course, so if these pique your interest, go on and have a poke in the gallery. It's sunny out.
there's another 21 odd pictures in the gallery over here