Bike polo has had a surge in popularity recently, perhaps mainly thanks to the growing fixed-gear cycling scene or maybe because it’s one of the most addictive and fun sports to play. It’s seen a rise in players around the world including Glasgow, where a tightly-knit community of bike and cycling enthusiasts gather to play and take part in tournaments.
The game is easy to pick up, hard to put down, and the rules are simple. Teams of three players try to score goals with the small end of the mallet without ever putting their feet on the ground. Contact isn’t prohibited so much as frowned upon. Rules are dictated by a players code of honour rather than by one half-blind referee.
Bike polo was started by bike couriers as a way to relax using their everyday bikes, but the games popularity has risen sharply with the sudden growth in fixed gear bikes. Most of the players play on freewheel bikes, opting for old and comfortable “beater” bikes in case of any damage. The bikes tend to be made up of a mishmash of different parts, some customised, giving the game a DIY look, and much of it is. The mallets are industrial strength piping bolted to a ski pole. The whole game has an urban look about it, it’s mostly played outside as indoor surfaces are usually unsuitable. This isn’t a surprise as that is how bike polo began and it’s a welcome change to the generally well polished look of other sports today.
Even though the bike community in Glasgow is small, they still participate in tournaments like the UK Bike Polo Championships. Most tournaments tend to be held in places with high concentration of players, so the bigger the community gets, the more tournaments spring up as players want more and more of a challenge. Intercity tournaments are also starting to include Glasgow and Edinburgh as participating cities proving that the community is getting larger and more involved.
Although rough looking, serious injuries are few and far between, even grazes and cuts are hard to find on regular players and it seems even falling off your bike gets a bit more graceful as you get older. If you get nostalgic at the idea of pretending your bike is a horse then getting involved is a must.
The Glasgow bike polo community mainly resides of the Glasgow Fixed-Gear and Single-Speed Forums so it’s firmly rooted in the love for those types of bikes and this is where it all began, at least for the Glasgow community. Many of the players are members and games get organised and promoted there. As well as the fourms there is a Facebook group, for those who don’t stray further that a link from Facebook to find their fun. Beginners bike polo games run on Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30pm at the Gorbals court (Crossroads Youth and Community Association).