Apr 042012

Bike polo tourney, April 27-29

By Sunny Montgomery

It was a warm and particularly windy afternoon when I attended my first bike polo practice, arriving at Coolavin Park as the pickup games were already underway.  A dozen or so players and two large dogs hurried back and forth across the old tennis courts.  The dogs, unfortunately, did not play polo.  Instead, they barked raucously at the young children who’d wandered over from the playground, in part to tease the dogs but also to watch the players circling the court on their bicycles, chasing a small ball with their homemade mallets.  Occasionally, a player would cruise past where I sat taking notes and whack their mallet up against the chain link fence.

Within just a few minutes, I witnessed my first collision.  The player toppled sideways off his seat then struggled to climb back on while still holding onto his groin. 

“You okay?”  The other players asked, casually concerned.  But of course he was.  He pulled himself back upright, tapped out then rejoined the game.

Polo players, I learned, are not allowed to let their feet touch the ground during play.  If they do, they must “tap out” before rejoining the game.  This rule can be used as part of a strategy.  For instance, all “like” contact is permitted.  A person can hit a person.  A bike can hit a bike and a mallet can hit a mallet.  If an opponent seems wobbly on their ride, a bump from another cycle could result in them steadying themselves with a “foot down” or, at times, crashing headlong over their handlebars.  Either way, it has the same effect:  play is disrupted.

Bike polo is a cross between horse polo—minus the horse—and ice hockey.  It is a high- contact, hardcore sport with the potential for carnage and Lexington now has a new reason to get interested:  The fourth annual Ladies Army bike polo tournament is right around the corner.

The Ladies Army tournament is the only all female bike polo tournament in the country.  In previous years, this widely anticipated gathering has been hosted by cities such as Austin and New York City.  This year it will be hosted by our very own.  Representing Lexington will be the Mortal Wombats, featuring local athletes such as Katie Jo Doerfler, Christina Buckner, and Corbin Little.  It is predicted that over 30 all-female teams will travel cross country and overseas alike to compete in the weekend long event: Swiss Rounds on Saturday and Double Elimination on Sunday.

Every year, Lexington gets more interesting.  We are a burgeoning hotspot for exciting subcultures and alternative things to do. Whether you are already an avid fan or a beginner like me, come out and show support for your city’s formidable female athletes. There will be interesting people, a chance to gather outdoors,possible carnage and—did I mention?—there will be bad ass ladies from all over the globe.

The IV Ladies Army bike polo tournament takes place April 27-29 at the bike polo courts at Coolavin Park, corner of Sixth and Jefferson. For more info, check out this video: http://coolbikevideos.com/ladies-army-promo/

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