Going home

You make it so you’ve never been so excited to go home. So you’re sitting on the curb, three times over ready.  You’ve never been so ready to go anyplace before; now you’re sitting next to your strategically packed bags hoping it doesn’t take too much work to get it all in the car. You’re already opening the gate to the house, anxious to see who’s out on the porch. 5 hours to Los Angeles never seemed like such a long time.  I weigh the mass of my adventures, encounters, new friends and roads; I fan them out like dominos on the kitchen table, a series of faces, avenues, bars and bad diners. They unfold like a meticulous patchwork quilt, varied shapes and colors and textures sewn together and spanning from coast to coast, dotted with cycle trails and lakes, coffee mornings and Bourbon afternoons, with blackberries and redwoods, harbor views and roads that run alongside rivers.

Then, gently folding up my patchwork treasure,  I carefully place it onto its own special shelf, marked “Joy and Discovery; The Summer of Waking Life ” and turn my mind to the rustling, settling fall foliage, to harvest the fruits that have grown in my spirit. Ripe with anticipation, bursting with the juices of inspiration, I can already taste the simmering sauces of the city of angels reaching north to draw me in. I’m on my way.

The United States of Polomerica

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.

Hello and Goodbye: L.A. to Seattle

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I’ve just spent a blink in Los Angeles. Now I’m shoveling peanut butter pretzels into my nervous mouth, counting the milliseconds til I touch ground in Seattle. My insides flutter, anticipating the whirlwind of bike polo I approach–5 hours til the week I’ve been waiting for since last year: Worlds. The World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship.

Holy crap I’m excited!

I made good use of my jaunt here with trips to peaceful beaches, hiking to waterfalls, eating lots of Mexican food, a few bike rides down skid row in crossing downtown, a carnival, a weekend in arrowhead, lots of polo, bbq’s, baking, dancing and disco naps, whiskey and wine, crafting and cat-sitting, trips to bike shops, co-ops and bike palaces, freeways and free enterprise…burned the man in the mecca of angels, with all the disciples of individuality everywhere, all around me. Fare well fair city, I’m off to slay.

A bike polo special feature: “For the love of the game”

Wrote a little piece about the NYC Bench Minor (vs. RVA) back in July for Urban Velo. My article is gracefully complimented by the gorgeous photography of Doug D.

So it goes like this:

“Body up on him! Body up on him!” The excited cry echoes from the sidelines at The Pit, New York’s informally designated bike polo court. On the concrete court, six players weave and sweep across the large open courtyard vying for possession of the ball. As Ace contends with an opponent and the two all but tangle, his teammates on the bench urge him to muscle the man in the way, well, out of the way.

See the full article (and Doug’s fantastic shots) here.