On Tuesday and Friday evenings, bike enthusiasts in Corvallis come together to play a game on Lincoln Elementary School’s tennis court. Hammocks hang from the chain link fence, music plays out of an old cat litter box stereo covered in stickers, and bikes get jimmy rigged with pieces from a beer can. It’s good fun, and it’s called bike polo.
Bike polo is a sport in which two teams of three ride bicycles and use mallets to pass and strike a ball into a goal. Before the action starts, the players throw their mallets onto the court to claim a spot in the next game. Next, the mallets are randomly placed on each side of the court to determine teams in a way that makes it “friendly [and] with less rivalries,” according to participant Anthony Sereni.
There are not too many rules to the game. You can use any part of your mallet to control the ball but may only score by using either end of the mallet, not the sides. If you put your feet down, you must go to center court and touch the fence, which the players refer to as “dabbing” or “tapping out.”
When it came my turn to give bike polo a try, I was enthusiastic.
As it turned out, the players in the game before had made it look easy. For me, not so much. Though trying to control a ball with a mallet while riding a bike is difficult in and of itself, you must also be aware of the other players on the court, stop suddenly on a regular basis, and try to balance without putting your feet on the ground. It’s safe to say that I fell one or two times, and may have even crashed into the fence. I believe that the “pics or it didn’t happen” rule might apply.
The Lincoln Elementary School court will be getting a small remodel soon, which means that any sport that uses a hard court rink can now use the space. Currently, a rachet strap is wrapped around the existing tennis nets and poles which keep the ball within bounds. With the support of neighbors and a community survey, Corvallis Parks & Recreation will be installing new tennis equipment that will allow the nets to be removed. Permanent boards will also be installed on the ground, making the court even better for the bike polo folks.
If it at all sounds interesting, give it a shot! I’ve been told that practice makes perfect.
Corvallis Bike Polo meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m.
at Lincoln Elementary School in Southtown. The group has extra bikes and mallets for newcomers and is very welcoming. For more information about bike polo, visit www.corvallisbikepolo.com or look for “Corvallis Bike Polo” on Facebook.