MU bike polo gears up for fun
The team helped promote cycling and safety at Bike Fest 2009.
Apr. 17, 2009
Imagine the sport of polo. Now, take away the horses and add a bike.
Bike polo is an intramural recreation sport that began around 1916. The MU club sport started last year as a group of friends getting together to play grass court bike polo, MU bike polo President Daniel Cox said.
There are two types of bike polo: grass and hard court. Grass court is played in a larger grass field like normal polo, while hard court is usually played in a smaller area on a hard surface, played more in urban areas. Cox said the sport is basically the same as polo on horseback with a few obvious differences.
The sport incorporates bike-handling skills, shooting skills and other tricks like using a mallet to help turn with more ease.
Competitor Charlie Hill said hard court bike polo is played three on three. The first team to get five points wins and if a player's foot touches the ground, the player has to return to mid-court to tap in.
The grass court group plays weekends at Stankowski Field and at Stephens Lake Park. Hard court bike polo practices on the fifth and sixth floors of the Hitt Street Parking Garage, two to three times a week.
"We were looking for something fun to do with bikes," Cox said.
The group is more for fun than intense competition, adviser Colin Daly said. Everyone in the group is friendly and ready to help out newcomers, he said.
Their mallets are made from tubing they got at the Columbia Public Works because it is strong and lasts longer. On their bikes they use slick tires. They have a low gear ratio so they can speed up and slow down quickly. They also have a back brake instead of a front brake so that they can skid and turn at same time for faster turns.
The group has also attended a few tournaments to play other bike polo players. They hope to go to Dayton, Ohio, for the Midwest championships and to Philadelphia for the world championships over the summer.
Both MU bike polo and the hard court bike polo players were at Bike Fest 2009, which took place on Lowry Mall last Wednesday.
The goal of the event was to promote cycling and safety while cycling.
CycleExtreme Bicycle Warehouse promoted safety lights for night riding. Walt's Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Company talked about the importance of a properly fitted helmet.
"We like to see people on bikes," said Chris Irvin, Walt's Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Company employee. "It puts in a good feeling that it's a safe thing to do."
MU Police Department gave examples of what constitutes good and bad bicycle locks. MUPD also promoted their online property registration for bicycles and electronics, the two most commonly stolen items on campus.
Sustain Mizzou offered further seminars on how to fix a flat, safety and advanced bike maintenance.
"We're here because we just want to support safety on campus," said Emily Albertson, Sustain Mizzou vice president of programming. "We want people who have bikes to be able to ride them on campus. We want them to ride their bikes safely. Hopefully, they'll ride their bikes more."