Product, Reviews

Review: DZR Link Lime

January 17, 2014

Last year was hard for me and shoes, which I’m blaming on just getting too rad. In March, I came back from New Zealand with my DZR Link Charcoal looking like this:
Link1

After only 8 months or so, I needed to use tape to make sure my foot did not blow out the front. The vegan glue of the Link Charcoal didn’t hold the sole onto the shoe body, just like Aaron’s vegan DZR Mamba X. Then in the Spring another tragedy struck when my Chrome Midway Pro shoes broke on me during a training ride:
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Bummer after bummer in the rad looking shoes department lead me to the DZR Link Lime shoes. I was a bit skeptical after the glue on my Charcoals turned my shoe into a foot puppet but I was ready to give the Link Lime a go since they didn’t have the vegan glue. Here’s a fresh pick when I got them in early April:
Link3

Recently DZR released the Marco, which unfortunately does not come in female friendly sizes (although a champ on the inside assures me that we can expect smaller sizes this spring). In the mean time, the DZR shoe that can be considered their bike polo shoe for women, is their Link Lime (LL). After over 9 months of playing on the LLs, they are looking and feeling way better than the Charcoals, and the following is a quick review of things that I find important in a polo shoe:

Durability:
Unlike the Charcoal, the LLs glue has hung in there pretty fantastically, particularly where the sole meets the material of the shoe around the toe. I have actually had no glue issues with this shoe aside from the area around cleat, which as of yet has had no affect on my riding or playing. So far it has been pretty durable as a shoe; I’m not worried about it coming apart under my feet while I’m playing polo. The only real issue I’ve had is with the material on top of the shoe where the grey leather has started breaking off, which only really affects the aesthetic look of the shoe and not the shoe performance.

Handle the Elements:
After one rain, my Charcoals started deteriorating in a bad way particularly around the air vent holes on the top of the shoe, which was due to the synthetic vegan material they used for that shoe. The LLs are leather with suede lining, which has held up better in the elements, but I also live in the Bay Area where it seldom rains so maybe I’m not an expert with this.  

Polo Friendly:
What I’m looking for in a polo is a high quality shoe that can handle my  plentiful falls and general getting rad when necessary. These shoes have been great for this so far. The extra padding on the sides helps to protect my ankles for the most part, but we all know that there is no real protection against shots from Jake Langdon now is there?

As most cycling shoes aren’t super comfortable to stand around in, I am usually looking for shoes that are comfortably off the court as well, and the LLs certainly are. At first, they were a bit snug but with after a couple wears, the LLs fit perfectly. They stay tight around your foot while giving you plenty of room for your toesies.

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Here are what some other polo ladies are saying about the Link Limes:

Oleha Riden – “The Links were on my wishlist for awhile. Even though I purchased some snazy leather DZR Kowloons to bomb around the city in style, I was still longing for something more durable that I could use for polo. Thanks to Shelley not fitting in size 37, I got to capitalize on her mis-fortune and snag a pair early on last season. Overall the shoes were a win for me! The ankle support, Velcro strap to cinch laces in place, and thicker sole contributed to comfortable performance on my bike, especially when I was still learning how to function “clipped in”. My only quality critic would be the laces; they sort of disintegrated within a few months, and as much as I liked to think I have crazy arm muscle strength, I think it was more poor quality of the laces. My easy fix was just to swap a pair of laces from some Nike skate shoes that I had lying around.”

Jillian Browy’s review can be found here: http://dogsoccerenthusiast.com/reviews.html

To try out a pair for yourself, head over to DZR’s Link Lime page!

Party On Wayne.
Sam

m4s0n501
Editorial, Tournaments

A Guide to Throwing Your First Tournament

January 15, 2014

DSC_0228Thanks to Zachary Woodward for the photo.

The above picture is from COMOPOLO’s first Wingman 4v4 tournament back in 2012. This was the first tournament that Chirstian Losciale, Johnathon McDowell, and I organized and ran as hardcourt polo players. I remember being nervous about everything surrounding the tournament from the moment I announced it on League of Bike Polo up until we handed the last prize on Sunday evening. We were young newbie players back then but we still wanted to throw a tournament that players from all over the Midwest would talk about and look forward to attending the next year. While this isn’t entirely a 100% realistic goal, it’s something good to strive towards. Lucky for the three of us, we started playing polo in a city with a thick hardcourt history, so it wasn’t as hard to fill all of the team spots. For all of you new and young-blood clubs around the world, it might not be as easy to fill the roster of your first tournament, but with the help of this guide, it might make things go a little more smoothly.

The most important thing you can do before hosting your first tournament is to travel to other tournaments. See how they are ran; pinpoint all of the things that the hosts are doing that are making it enjoyable for you. Also, find out what annoys you about the tournament (no food, no water, not enough partying, etc) so that you can provide these amenities at your tournament. Chances are if there is something that you don’t like, then many other participants aren’t enjoying it as well. The first Wingman tournament came out of the frustration of the 2012 Midwest Regional Qualifier. Madison charged through the roof for the tournament and only provided minimal amounts of water and a few snacks. We wanted to show how it is possible to stretch every dollar that you have, so we turned a $10 entry fee per person into a free t-shirt for them, as well as breakfast and lunch at the courts, and a keg on Saturday night.

While at the tournament, make sure you’re interacting with members from other clubs. An important way to guaranty a full tournament is making friends. Talk to members from other clubs, buy them drinks, cheer for them to win, kick their butt on the court and then give them a hug afterwards. We are all losers looking to make friends, it just takes someone to make the initiation. Don’t be afraid to talk to your polo idols; they won’t think less of you because you’re just a newb. That being said, it’s unrealistic (but not unheard of) to expect the Beavers or Call Me Daddy to show up to your tournament. Don’t get upset if you don’t see all those big name players you see all over Mr. Do signing up for your tournament. Honestly, it may even be better that way. You don’t want a team coming in and walking all over the competition. It’s more fun to have equally matched teams playing against each other.

Now that you have all your new polo friends signing up for the tournament, use the above mentioned lists of dos and don’ts to make the tournament enjoyable for all of the participants. To cross off of the dos (food, swag, etc), it helps to pull all of your club’s resources. At the time of the Wingman, I worked as a Pizza Delivery Driver for a local shop. I talked to my boss about trading two days worth of pizza (~15 pies a day) for having the players drink the place dry at our registration party (which they did). Johnathon worked as a screen printer for a local company so he was able to print event shirts for dirt cheap. Another club member worked at a bike shop and was able to get his shop to donate spare tubes, cables, and even a Brooks saddle for a prize. While you’re club may not have members who work in these industries, you can pull benefits from where you do work. That is, unless you all have boring desk jobs, which in that case it could be harder to do so. For that scenario, don’t be afraid to talk to local businesses (especially establishments that serve alcohol) about trading registration/after-parties for food/money/cheap drinks. If there is one thing you can guaranty about a polo tournament, all of the players are going to be looking for a place to drink.

After getting players signed up and using your local resources to get amenities for the player, it’s important to make sure that the tournament, itself, runs smoothly. Again use your list of dos and don’ts to make sure that the tournament is up to par with other well known tournaments. One thing that all of these tournaments have in common is punctuality. As much as I hate it, we all know that tournaments run on polo time. Even with this in mind, it’s important to keep them on schedule to the best of your ability. There is nothing more annoying than organizers who slack off and let tournaments self destruct. It was an embarrassment at World’s this year when the lights shut off before all the games had finished. While you’re tournament isn’t as big as Worlds, people will not want to come back if you mismanage your time and are unable to complete the tournament.

It’s not hard to successfully throw  your first tournament, you just have to put in the time and energy before hand. Go to other tournament, see first hand what should and shouldn’t be done as an organizer of a tournament. While you’re there be sure to make friends with other clubs! Then pull your resources to make sure that the participants are well taken care of while visiting your town. And finally, stay on top of running your tournament and keep it on schedule! It’s a simple formula, but when done correctly you will see buzz form about your city’s tournament hosting abilities and you can guaranty more players interested in your tournament the next time around.

Best of luck in your tournament hosting endeavors and remember, in the end, polo players are just looking to have a good time!

Art, Culture, Product

Praise Thee Almighty Bike Polo

January 8, 2014

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I’m sure for most of the Poloverse, the name Pinch Flat Press means little to nothing, so let me do a little introduction for you. Pinch Flat Press is a screen printing company ran by polo players from Missoula, Montana; Jeremy Haas and Shannon Rose to be exact. With five years of hard labor put into professional screen printing, the two know how to make quality products. Just like all bike polo players, the sport never leaves their mind (especially while at work). For that reason, Pinch Flat Press used their skills to start The Great Bike Polo Revival.

This moniker has been plastered all over stickers and beer koozies for the past couple years so there is a good chance that you’ve seen some of them at a tournament. Looking to take The Great Bike Polo Revival a little more seriously, Pinch Flat Press added this amazing shirt, featuring their dog (and new mascot) Horace as a Pentecostal Holiness Church snake handler, to their brand (If you don’t know anything about this religious ritual, I recommend looking it up. Shit is crazy!).  Not only is this hand-drawn front design amazing, but the quote at the bottom is bone chilling: “Kiss the Snake, Drop the Hammer”. On top of all of this, the sleeve of the shirt has a hand-drawn print of an upside-down cross made of mallets and it reads “Praise Polo”. This shirt has so much awesomeness that it may explode off of your chest!

If you want to pick one of these bombs up, all you have to do is head over to the Pinch Flat Press Etsy page. Jeremy and Shannon are also throwing in a free Pinch Flat Press koozie for the first six order! Order soon and be sure to follow them on FACEBOOK, as Jeremy and Shannon promise growth from The Great Bike Polo Revival in 2014.

Also, if you’re looking to get some team shirts for this coming year, hit up Pinch Flat Press! Support bike polo by keeping your money in bike polo!

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Editorial

Analyzing the 2014 Ruleset Proposal

January 7, 2014

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Before getting into this, I want to say that I appreciate everything that the NAH does. I’m sure it’s very grueling putting in your free time with no compensation (at least I know it can be for us Association of Bike Polo Journalist members). With that said, I have to say that the NAH really let the bike polo community down in 2013 season in regards to rules. The first official ruleset released for the season was missing so much that they had to rush in a revised copy. Sadly, the Eastside Qualification tournament was held before this sad excuse of a ruleset was revised. The NAH was able to get back to us with an improved version before any other qualifying tournament took place and that ruleset lasted through the 2013 WHBPC. This is the ruleset that we all remember from last year, but here it is (Ruleset V3.3) in case you can’t remember. That being sad (and as much as I hate to inflate Nick Kruse’s ego), Nick Kruse killed it this year with his V4.0 of the NAH ruleset. Pure. Fucking. Gold.

There are a few new items added to this ruleset that really sparked my interest in the Ruleset V4.0 Proposal:

  • First was the addition of uniform hand signals for the referee. While there are only a few penalties that have these dedicated hand signals, we will definitely be seeing some referee dance moves happening when there are Extension, Charging, Interference, Steering Arm, and Flagrance penalties called.
  • While the 2013 rulesets tried to streamline the rules for easier understanding, they left out a lot of important assets, one being Timeouts. I’m really excited to see Timeouts making their way back into the ruleset.
  • I never understood why players were not allowed to ball joint in their offensive zone, so I’m excited to see the new lax rules on ball jointing. Potentially, players will be allowed to ball joint anyway on the court as long as they don’t do it for longer than two seconds.
  • 2014, the year we FINALLY see mallet dropping addressed in the ruleset. Not only is it addressed, the rule couldn’t be more perfect. Allowing each player to only have “one mallet in play” is the exactly how such a rule should read. And I’m glad to see that players can ride around without a mallet as long as the mallet isn’t in the way. Sometimes it’s better to help defend without a mallet than spending  time trying to pick it up, essentially taking yourself out of the play.
  • NO MORE SHAFT GOALS, WOOHOO! Good Riddance! Although let’s be honest, there is a nice little video from the 2013 Midwest Qualifier that will show us why Nick Kruse wanted to get rid of this rule.
  • One of the hardest rules to referee was the 90 degree arm allowance. From most angles on the referee stand, it was hard to tell if the player had their arms extended at 62 degrees, 87 degrees, 113 degrees, etc. While Fixcraft may have to lose their Buffer t-shirt, I’m glad that we lost the 90 degree rule. A tucked arm is all you really need to protect yourself.
  • And finally, GOODBYE SUDDEN DEATH! Well sort of. In the proposed V4.0 Ruleset we see a brand new way to do overtime. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time in games that can’t end in ties, there will now be a five minute overtime period. In this five minute overtime period, play will continue until one team reaches five points. If the score is still tied at the end of this period, the game will then go to Sudden Death with no stop in the play. This is a great way to settle a tied game, and I’m excited to see it play out in a tournament!

Nick Kruse was a great addition to the NAH lineup because of his dedication to making this hobby of ours into a legitimate sport, and  as head of the Rules Committee, he is sending us one giant leap closer to that goal. After thoroughly studying the National Hockey League’s ruleset (as well as other rulesets I’m sure), he has put together the most elaborate and well thought out ruleset that hardcourt bike polo has ever seen. I encourage you all to read over this ruleset and see for yourself just how game changing (bad pun) this ruleset is. After reading it over, I further encourage you all to contact your regional representatives and share with them your love for the ruleset so that it can pass the official vote in two weeks. On top of this, if you see anything that Nick Kruse and the rest of the Rules Committee may have missed, be sure to contact the Rules Committee with your suggestions.

Here’s to constant progress for Hardcourt Bike Polo!

Product, Reviews

2013 Product of the Year!

December 31, 2013

connect

2013 was a great year for bike polo products, especially mallet heads. We saw so many new mallet heads hit the market this year that it’s going to be hard to even name them all. While some companies (mostly PBJ, BOON, and arguably Arena and Portland Bike Polo) came out with heads this year and economically dabbed before gaining any real ground in the polo market, most of the big household polo brands produced heads that thrived this season.

This year Northern Standard busted out their first production run head with the Hourglass (although, I’m pretty sure they don’t officially call it the Hourglass). In the same vein, Modifide Bike Polo Equipment unleashed their Arc polo head, in it’s four and five inch versions. Following the two new heads in 2013 trend, Milwaukee Bicycle Co. dropped their Small and Large Mouth hammers to accompany their King’s Crown connection system (our favorite product of 2012). We saw small changes from companies like Fixcraft, who transformed their classic 2500 head into a light Tournament edition, to huge changes from Milk Bike Polo and Magic Bike Polo. Both companies dropped nearly 100% new lines for the 2013 season.

With so many new heads out this year, how could we choose just one to stand above the rest? All of the heads have an equal place of importance in the polo market; some are great for tournaments, some are pick-up perfect, some are meant for newbies looking to learn ball control, some are used, for good reason, by World Champions. That is why our product of the year isn’t a head at all. And while I was very tempted to grant the title to a clothing item (like Modifide’s sick 5-panel hat, Magic’s Mosquito baseball hat, or Fixcraft’s hard-to-keep-on-the-shelf Means hoodie), I felt it was best to give it to the only non-mallet head product that was 100% designed for bike polo. Not only that, I wanted to give it to the biggest game changer to come to the polo market since last years product of the year. And must like last years product of the year, it is also a mallet attachment system.

The Fixcraft Connect system is hands down the best product to hit the courts, ever. The whole Fixcraft team has spent years trying to perfect the mallet head mounting system (check out this Instagram photo for proof), and I think they’ve finally done it. Unlike last year’s product of the year, the Connect is non-proprietary system that can work with any shaft on the market (watch Fixcraft’s promo video for the Connect to see just how this is possible). Not only is it universal, but it’s light as hell too! The cleat weighs in at only 3.5 grams; add in a 1.5 gram aluminium bolt and you are ready to slay with only five added grams to the end of your mallet. If that’s too light for you, Fixcraft also includes a 4.3 gram steel bolt. Which ever bolt you choose, the complete Connect system weighs less than Milwaukee’s Kings Crown and won’t pull through the bottom of your mallet, like in the drop nut mallet head attachment method.

Us at 3-2-1 Polo! (and I’m sure the rest of the Poloverse as well) owe a huge “Thank You” to Sean, Jim, Sam and everyone else over at Fixcraft for using their time, money, and patience to bring such an amazing product to the Poloverse. You all are helping this hobby of ours actually become a sport, and we appreciate it. We can’t wait to see all of the great things that you come out with next year!

Editor’s Note: I want to point out that I excluded DZR’s Marco from this list because I was unable to try them out this year. So while they came out this year, I’ll add them to my “Products of 2014″ list.