Did I really write a half-sentimental, verging on fuzzy-wuzzy post on bike polo yesterday?
Yeah, yeah I did.
Wow. That's kind of embarrassing. I mean, sure everyone who plays in Boston is incredibly laid-back, but the reality of playing polo is more "Fight Club" than "Sister Act." More "Kill Bill" than "Snow White."
It involves squeaky skidding, the loud thud of the ball bouncing off wheel covers and the clatter of the door hatch as players tap out. The occasional heckle and the cheers when bikes tangle and crash, players get shoved aside, or make kamikaze-like sacrifices.
Because when the best from around the country [plus Canada!] get together in possibly the biggest polo event, ever [35 teams showed!], things get fast, bloody, and broken. I arrived at the Allston court in the early afternoon and got to watch some of the best players in the country unleashed upon each other for the 4th East Side Polo Invitational.
I knew it was going to a complete sausage party [aren't all bike events?] but I was unprepared for the frothing-at-the-mouth-testosterone-fueled competitiveness. With Boston locals clearly in the minority, it was like stepping into a different world. I actually stood in the middle of the crowd for about a full minute, searching for familiar faces, rummaging in my bag like I would somehow find my friends in there.
Not that these strangers didn't look interesting. There were enough mallets, tats, tight jeans, and bikes to make me swoon. Fortunately, being dressed in spandex and knee highs and arriving on my vanity track bike made the situation sufficiently awkward so that swooning would have been out of the question. Fortunately, I shoved aside the awkwardness for a few hours to watch some amazing games. And, fortunately, the players I did end up meeting didn't seem nearly as crazy off the court.
Although, once mounted on bikes with mallets ready, all the teams were fueled by something more than just the desire to win those Volume frames. Pride is on the line, and apparently that makes for some spectacular games. I snapped pictures furiously, leaning over the door, watching the game through the small screen of my digital camera.
Impending final exams [and the need to study for them] forced me to leave early. But ESPI finals are today. You know where to find me.
[Pictures from yesterday here.]
[Edit: and more pictures by Croth from Saturday and Sunday.]