Worlds are over. The World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships, that is–but the party continues. The fun continues. The comraderie and bonds forged are deeper and stronger, and will endure through all life may present, for there’s always another tournament to plan for, look forward to.
In the span of a flurry of days that transformed themselves into weeks, I have ridden a continuous wave of excitement, ebbing only for brief moments of exhaustion, dancing off hangovers, drinking away the body aches, poloing out all the doubts, riding the high that comes from living life in the throes of passion, sawing and wrenching and drilling and sweating my bike polo dreams into reality.
Worlds, it was finally here. And then, in a rapid flush of 500 polo games in 5 days – infusing every second with adrenaline and urgency – it was over.
We cleaned up all the evidence of the battlefield in a day and a half, dismantling bike racks, packing up first aid supplies and megaphones, stopwatches, clip boards, taking down tents, collecting all the left-behind mallets and helmets and water bottles. Working alongside Messman and Tommy from Seattle, Riki and Atsko from Japan, and Mario of L’Equipe; Calgary’s Trevor and Dabby from PDX; wrapping extension cords and folding tables, cutting down banners and finally, reluctantly, seeing the entire scene of the crime transformed back to innocence as a few hundred screws came out of so many wood boards and beams. All in a day and a half, after a full year of countless hours molding pipe dreams into tangible reality.
Then we all picked up and went back to playing polo on imperfect courts, sprinting and sweating and shooting, passing and screening and scoring, shouting and laughing and getting all worked up and loving every. single. moment.
Some players headed home, but many more lingered in Seattle. To make the reunion last a little bit longer. To play against opponents and idols. Learn and grow, on and off the court. We conspired, we collaborated, shared dreams and concerns and expectations about the future of polo, about our own futures; most of all appreciated and loved each other, as we shared the joys of watching our beloved sport grow and mature. For claiming our little place in the big world, and through the force of a hundred hands and minds, made our fantastic little universe grow bigger and bigger and bigger. Big kids with big hearts, and even bigger dreams, the poloverse is our lifeblood. It’s the stuff we eat, sleep and breathe. Everything else: it all comes back to bike polo. It’s what gets us by in the mad, mad world.
And so. North in the Lexington Dreamkiller van, we rolled, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and Geneva and Toronto all aboard, off to pour out our polo-loving hearts with our kin in Bellingham, a new town, a different court, all the same shenanigans. Bourbon, bonfires and bliss.
And so. North to Vancouver. Heavy Metal and a foggy mountain backdrop set the stage for another weekend of polomania. A little bit of rain and a whole lot of heckling. The devastating seriousness of competing for East Van’s coveted crowns alongside barroom dice games and karaoke and slippery knife fights.
Bearing witness to France’s Call Me Daddy and East Van’s Crazy Canucks, there’s no less excitement than there was the week before, when the match held more weight on Seattle’s WHBPC battlefield. Marveling at the skill and intensity of Germany’s boys pitted against Seattle’s finest, it’s an incomparable thrill; these moments incite inspiration, admiration, adulation.
And when the victors emerge, we all rejoice together. For their victory, the boys of Germany’s Edisons are proud, yet they are robed in humilty.
Is every polo tournament a victory for us all? Have I been overcome with too much idealism? Or is this real insight? We eat, sleep and breathe polo; even our moments away are taken as necessary respite, a time to rejuvenate in hopes of returning to the courts uplifted. We all know it’s more than just a game. Bike Polo is the common blood that pumps through our veins, breathing life into our flesh, giving us reason to toil and sweat, transforming a motley crew from the earth’s continents into a family, reunited and rescued from the outer universe, into our blessed poloverse, as often as possible by a series of tournaments, week to week, month to month, season to season.