A different breed of polo
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Saddled atop fat-tired mountain bikes, they pedal furiously on the shaggy grass field behind Bridges High School.
Wielding mallets, most crafted out of ski poles and PVC or ABS pipe, they strategically whack a mini soccer ball all over the field, directing well-placed passes to teammates and waiting for the perfect moment to take aim at the goal.
They are the Stomparillaz and they’re playing a game that’s far from new, with roots that date back to the late 1800s, but is only beginning to gain steam in Colorado.
They are playing bike polo. It’s just like traditional polo, but with bikes masquerading as the horses.
And that shaggy field behind Bridges High School grabbed center stage in Colorado’s bike polo scene on Saturday, where teams from Fort Collins, Durango and the local Stomparillaz contingent convened for a tournament – and a battle for bragging rights.
But those bragging rights weren’t necessarily reserved for the team with the most wins at day’s end.
“That’s the great thing about the Stompas,” said Roger Poirier, sporting a predominantly blue Stomparillaz jersey. “The best biker out here is the one having the most fun. That’s totally the way we look at it. It’s a great day and it all worked out.”
The Stomparillaz, a creative cycling collective known for, among other things, organizing regular full-moon cruises in Carbondale that draw huge numbers of cyclists, have been at this bike polo thing for a couple years now.
Gathering two nights a week for pickup games, they hone their skills on local fields.
“It’s just another way to spend Thursday nights in the [Roaring Fork] Valley,” Poirier said. “We have some laughs. It’s perfect.”
And the equipment, most of it handmade, is a sight to behold.
“We make our own mallets, and we kind of make our own bikes,” said Stomparillaz member Ray Alexander. “Most of us are riding junkyard bikes we created.”
That might mean anything from stripping the suspension, gears and brakes to wildly creative paint jobs.
Some players ride fixies, which brings backpedaling and a world of tricks into the equation.
“You can do amazing stuff with it,” Alexander said.
Quirky uniforms and costumes are also the norm for the Stomparillaz, who went all out for their home tournament. The wilder the better.
“We try to just have fun and be creative with every tournament,” Poirier said. “We come up with different colors of uniforms or jerseys. This time, we painted all our front tires red.”
Saturday marked the third tournament of 2009 for the Stomparillaz. They made a trip to Lyons in March and played in Fort Collins in May.
As the sport swells in popularity, look for more tournaments to pop up around the state.
The Stomparillaz have seen certainly seen their popularity swell. Anywhere from 10 to 25 players show up for the twice-weekly pickup games. The group had enough bodies to field three teams at Saturday’s tourney.
“It’s so addictive,” Stompa Will Inverso said.
Alexander, who instantly fell in love with the sport, agreed.
“My neighbor called me and I’d never heard of it or what it was about,” he relayed. “I played one game and I’ve been coming out twice a week ever since. It’s just an addicting game. It’s a lot of fun and great exercise.”
And it’s an exercise the Stomparillaz won’t soon stop.
“We love bikes and I think we just decided, ‘Hey, why wouldn’t we?’ We’ve got ski poles – we all ski,” Poirier said. “We always want to find different ways to get on bikes.”
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