Jamie Barber – Brisbane, Australia
Started playing late 2008? I had just received 2 lots of Kevin Rudd economic stimulus money and had recently lost my licence. I went to a bike shop in the city who were having a sale and bought a Bianchi Pista on sale, not knowing it was the Hyundai Excel of hipster transportation.
It came brake less with no foot retention and I crashed pretty hard on the way home. I went to my local bike shop, Fusion, to get a brake and clips. They told me of a fixed/single speed group ride that happened every Thursday at Gear Shop, west end. Some of the guys told me to come down and have a hit. Simon Mitchell gave me a mallet to borrow and I spent the next few months riding drops and track gearing and generally being a liability to my own safety. I also really enjoyed freestyle fixed riding and spent a lot of time doing that rather than playing polo.
Melbourne Nationals 2009 was when I realized that I really enjoyed polo and polo related travel.
Ollie Wykeham – Brisbane, Australia
I started playing polo the same week I started riding a track bike. Two courier friends, Benee and Will, introduced me to track bikes mid 2009 and helped me build my first bike. This was during a really tough time for both of them, I am thankful for the help and support they provided me, I feel that helping a n00b like me out was cathartic for them.
They told me to come down to Musgrave park (The ‘Grave) on Sunday, introduced me to the polo crew, threw a mallet in for me and basically said “You must play”. It was awesome to have that solid push into it, as we all remember how intimidating polo can seem from the sideline (this was in the days of brakeless fixed polo, in my memory there seemed to be more crashes). I crashed early on, broke my brake leaver, bent my calliper and thought “I can do this”.
To be honest I used to come down for the social aspect and to learn tricks, not to play polo. I would usually only play one game in the afternoon at the most, preferring beers, chats and heckles. Brisbane has always had a very social scene and it wasn’t till we hosted the second Australian nationals in 2010 that I came to appreciate competitive polo, before that I just saw it as something social and a way to become better on a bike. After Nats I got a polo gearing, build my own mallet and started playing every game I could (read: became a proper addict!)
I will always be grateful to Benee and Will for introducing me to bike polo and cycling.
Bennett Rust – Gold Coast, Australia
The jerk of the sport.
I started playing polo in August 2010 a few weeks before nationals at Brisbane. There was only about 4 or 5 of us playing for the few first weeks just trying to figure out play and ride at the same time. My first bike was an old mountain bike with a welded sprocket on the rear to make it fixed it was clumsy but it was an awesome first bike to figure it all out.
Virginia Castellan – Sydney, Australia
I started playing in early 2009 (I think). I used to go and watch some friends play on Sundays near my house. At that time bike polo in Sydney was stupidly rough - as in mallets being thrown through people’s wheels just to take them down. People seemed to be going for the player first and the ball second. I was pretty sure there was no way I would ever want to play. One afternoon I was sufficiently inebriated to think it was a good idea to jump on for a game. I ended up having a really good time, and not just because they didn’t throw any mallets at me.
A couple of weeks later Lewis Ciddor was putting on the first ever Sydney Bike Polo tournament and convinced me to play. After that I realised I needed to play twice a week. Six months later I was playing at the Australian Nationals. Since then I have not travelled anywhere that didn’t involve a tournament or polo of some kind.
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