Apr 30, 2012 7:04 PM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News
BILLINGS - Most of us have heard of polo and water polo, but bike polo? That's a new one. Or is it?
"It started in Ireland in 1891," explained bike polo player Joe Stout. "It was even played, I think it may have just been an exhibition game, in the London Olympics in 1908."
The history of bike polo in Billings doesn't go back that far, in fact it's only been around for a few years. But it has a following that's rapidly growing; they even have a facebook page.
"It's kind of a mix of hockey and soccer, except you're playing on bicycles and using mallets," said bike polo player Shane Winden. "It's been a great way to get together after work. This is the biking community, if we're not doing this, we're usually out riding trails or doing something like that."
Typically, when you're riding a bike you try to avoid collisions. But not in this case. The wipeouts are just part of the fun.
"People are constantly flying over their handle bars and rolling around," said Winden with a laugh. "There's just so much laughing and camaraderie.
Fellow bike polo player, Jake Zavitz agreed.
"I usually end up with some blood, but it's not a big deal," Zavitz said with a shrug. "It happens."
Given all the crashes, it's understandable why people may be a bit cautious and intimidated by this sport, but the guys insist it's really not that difficult. And they welcome newcomers.
"We're totally open to anybody that wants to give it a shot," said Winden. "Almost every time we get together we have new people that have never played before. We're pretty used to that."
"No one starts out good at it," reassured Zavitz. "Everyone has to work into it."
"Some people are good, we always have brand new people every time," Stout added. "We don't pick on anybody, it's really casual."
Since it sounded like their expectations weren't incredibly high, I hopped on my bike and give it a try.
For the most part there's only one rule: no touching your feet to the ground.
Getting your balance is definitely the toughest part, therefore due to that whole "no touching with your feet rule" I found myself "out" quite often
But after awhile, you do pick it up and it turned out bike polo is not only fun to watch it's also fun to play.
"If they come and watch, they usually will want to try it," Winden said. "Once they try it we usually can't get them to get out and let anybody else play!"
And if it's the equipment that's holding you back, well they have you covered - at least with "polo" part.
"We have a bunch of extra mallets," assured Stout. "That's no problem. Just bring a bike and a helmet."
So, if you're looking for a mid-week adventure to let off some steam after work or to just simply let loose and have some fun, bike polo could be your answer.
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