Editorial, Tournaments

NAH’s Proposed Changes for 2014

December 3, 2013

Screen-Shot-2013-12-02-at-9.07.18-PM(Look at the amazing Microsoft Paint job Joe Rstom did on this map!) 

Yesterday the NAH announced their proposed changes for the 2014 qualifying season, and man are some huge things coming from it! To get the whole story head to the NAH website HERE, but for a quick one-two summary, along with my own rants, continue to read our article.

There are only three changes proposed for next year: two major changes and then one change comes as a result of the major change. First, after numerous complaints about last years change, the NAH wants to go back to an open qualifier system. This allows players/teams to compete in any region that they want, but in-region teams get two weeks to sign up for the qualifier before out-of-region teams get a stab at it. One thing from 2012 that they didn’t bring back was the lack of restriction on the number of qualifiers that you could play. In 2012 I traveled to three different qualifiers, mostly because it was an excuse to play real competitive play in other parts of the country, but in 2014, as it was in 2013, you are only allowed to play in one qualifier.

The other big change was the addition of new regions. The Midwest is now split into the Upper Midwest and the Lower Midwest. Along with the split, Kansas and Tennessee join the Lower Midwest and Michigan joins the Upper Midwest. To make room for these additions, the Midwest regions drop Manitoba and the Dakotas. These provinces/states join up with Wyoming, Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan to form the Prairies/Great Plains region. The other new region is formed out of America’s beard. The country of Mexico gains their own region so that they don’t have to attempt to travel to the USA to qualify for North Americans. Other minor changes to note, would be the addition of New Mexico to South Central,  upstate New York and Vermont to the Eastside, and Mississippi to the South East.

Because of these changes, NAH was forced to mold out a new spot allotment for the 2014 North American Championship. Here is the quick run down of proposed allotment:

  • 2013 NA Champions – 1 spot (obviously)
  • Cascadia – 11 spots
  • Eastside – 6 spots
  • Northside – 5 spots
  • Lower Midwest – 5 spots
  • Upper Midwest – 4 spots
  • South Central – 4 spots
  • South West – 3 spots
  • South East – 3 spots
  • Prairies/ Great Plains – 3 spots
  • Mexico – 3 spots

For a grand total of 48 teams heading to North Americans next year. Which, BTW, seems likely to be heading back to Minnesota for it’s potential permanent home (You can read more about that HERE).

These changes are looking being voted on by Club Reps between now and December 15th, so be sure to voice any concerns you may have with your Club Rep so that they can be passed along to the NAH committee. From what I can tell, NAH knocked it out of the park (or possibly “knocked it out of the court and off of a child’s head,” to keep it more polo related) with this proposal. Closed regions was a huge mistake last year. As long as in-region teams get first dibs, there is no reason out-of-region teams cant come play the tournament too. And our regions have needed to be reworked for so long; it’s great to see Kansas in the Midwest. In the grand scheme of things, I see no problems with these changes passing.

The only thing I hope they revise in all of this is the names. Lancaster Polo wrote a CUTE ARTICLE where Kabik gave the regions funny names, but in all seriousness, they need some work. Does one region really need two names? Prairies/Great Plains is annoying enough to write over and over, let alone say it. Let’s just simplify it and call it the Great Plains. Done and Done. And is the NAH really not creative enough to come up with better names than Upper Midwest and Lower Midwest? I know everyone will want to keep there Midwest blood (hell even I like to consider myself a Midwest player even after moving to Cascadia) but those names are boring. Change the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes region. It’s simple and helps explain the region really well. Coming up with a new name for the Lower Midwest is a little more tricky since it spans so much of the country. But surely anything they come up with will be better than Lower Midwest.

Try the Gateway region, as St. Louis is nearly in the center and St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the west. Or possibly the Tornado Alley region, although Oklahoma should be included in that. What about the Ozark region? It may not pertain to Ohio but it still sounds awesome. Middle Earth? Crossroads? Highlanders? Fixcraftia? It doesn’t really matter what the change is, I would just like to see something a little better than Lower Midwest.

Contest

What’s an Off-Season? Contest Winner!

December 2, 2013

Thank you all for participating in our contest, and thank you all even more for supporting the site! A huge shout out to Fixcraft for helping us out with this contest; we hope to work with them for future contests.

Anyway, here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The winner of the “What’s an Off-Season” mug, the hot chocolate, the Fixcraft-DGel cool and cold weather balls is:

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SPENCER HAWKES of Provo, Utah!
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Again, thank you all and keep watching out for another contest soon!

Editorial

Clearing the Peruvian Air

November 27, 2013

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“I heard Hija de la Conja is actually made and ran by Marino’s older brother. He is the one that taught Marino everything he knows. He lives in Spain now and has no affiliation with any of Marino’s companies.”

“I’m pretty positive that the owner of Velo Lucuma is a good friend of Marino. They both co-run the company, Marino just makes the bikes and then the guy in Florida sells them for him. They joined together to sell polo frames on the cheap. Cheap in more ways than one, if you know what I’m saying!”

And so on and so on and so on. We’ve all heard rumors regarding the relationships between the frame builder Marino Alegre and both Hija de la Conja and Velo Lucuma. Instead of letting the hearsay go on and on, we figured it would be in everyone’s interest to clear the air on this topic. To get the straight forward facts, we thought it would be best to head to the sources. We set out to contact Marino, Axel (the owner of Velo Lucuma), and Alejandro (the owner of Hija de la Conja), and we ended up getting great responses from 2/3’s of them. Marino and Alejandro responded with lightning speed (sadly, we never heard from Axel of Velo Lucuma). Both of them were more than eager to help shed some light on the foggy picture.

It turns out Alejandro is not Marino’s brother; in fact their is no physical relation at all. They are both just great friends who met though a passion of making bikes. Alejandro graduated college with a Masters in Product Development and an eagerness to use that knowledge in creating the perfect polo bike for himself. He sought out someone to help build this dream bike for him and he found a Peruvian trials and downhill frame builder to do so. This was Marino’s first taste of the bittersweet polo life. Together they created the Beer Point; which Alejandro abused for well over a year with no complaints.

With the test a success, Alejandro felt confident that Marino would be able to produce quality products for him in the future. This is one of the reasons he felt comfortable starting Hija de la Coneja. He had the design background, the close friendship with an ambitious frame builder and drive to fill a void in the polo marketplace. While enthusiastic, Alejandro prides himself on being cautious and therefore takes the time to thoroughly test out his designs before putting them on the market. To Alejandro, this and his small product runs of the frames are what set his bikes apart from Axel’s Velo Lucumas.

Marino was kind enough to shed some light on the relationship between himself and Axel of Velo Lucuma. Marino tells us that he met Axel in Peru at his job at a bank. Marino says that the two became good friends, and that Axel still keeps true to his Peruvian ties and visits the country almost monthly, despite moving to Weston, Florida a few years ago. Axel took his close-knit ties to the frame maker and his business/economic background to bring inexpensive hardcourt frames to North America.

To design his initial frames, Axel looked at Marino’s custom bike orders and found the most common measurements. He also started designing the frames with common features found on Marino custom builds; such as triple triangles and curved seat tubes. With a background in business more so than product development, Axel uses his ambition to push for mass production (well, as mass production as can come from a small Peruvian work shop). He uses his business background to bring low cost bike frames to more than just the polo community. Looking at the Velo Lucuma website, you can see that they also offer fat bike frames, fixed freestyle frames, 29er mountain bike frames, and fixed gear track frames.

If there is anything you should take from this article it is that Marino is a frame builder. While he offers custom frames, he also does production runs of frames for other companies. Axel of Velo Lucuma and Alejandro of Hija de la Coneja decided that they wanted to design and sell polo frames. To do so, they both decided to turn to their close friend Marino to build the bikes for them. While both Axel and Alejandro have their frames built at the same source, it is fairly evident that they have a different thought process going into their designs that extends through to the production. This can be most clearly seen in the difference in their end products.

Product

Hija de la Coneja 2014 Preview

November 26, 2013
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Yesterday Hija de la Coneja released a preview of their 2014 line of bike polo frames, and they are looking gorgeous. While the 2014 Hija de la Conejas kept their trademark wishbone seat stay, they did add a couple new features to ensure that we will all see more of these frames on courts around the world. Firstly, they added an XL frame! Their frame sizes tend to run smaller than other polo bikes (I normally ride a medium and I would ride a large Coneja) so by adding an XL you can grab the demographic of bike polo players over six foot tall. On top of this, they also dropped some extra bucks on heat treating each frame. They wanted to insure that dents and dings would stay off of their frames so that you could enjoy your Hija de la Coneja for years to come.

If you’re looking for a new polo bike for the 2014 season, why not hit up our friends from Barcelona, Spain and pick up a Hija de la Coneja. At $500 for a shipped frameset, that’s hard to pass up!  Here are some additional pictures to help convince you:

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Contest

Get Winter Ready On Us!

November 25, 2013
offseason

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We wanted to thank you again for helping us get over 1,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook. But since you are our loyal fans, we feel that you deserve much more than than us simply saying ‘Thank you’ over and over! Sp we decided the best thing to do was give you FREE STUFF! With the help of our buds over at Fixcraft, we are going to be offering you some fun wintertime goodies:

  • A one of a kind mug with an inspirational image to help you get through cold polo.
  • A Fixcraft-DGel pink Cool Weather bike polo ball.
  • A Fixcraft-DGel blue Cold Weather bike polo ball.
  • A bag of some delicious hot chocolate to help you stay warm.

To win these treats, all you have to do is head to our FACEBOOK PAGE  and share our post about this contest. As easy as that and you could be sitting next to the courts keeping warm by drinking hot chocolate out of a one of a kind mug while you wait for your turn to hit some balls around. Contest begins today (November 24th) and ends Sunday at 11:59pm cst; we will draw the winner Monday morning (December 2nd).

It’s worth noting that if you live in a climate where you will never use a Fixcraft-DGel cool pink or cold blue then we will substitute these for the traditional Canadian orange balls. But we will still be sending you the one of a kind mug and hot chocolate, because I mean come on, who doesn’t love hot chocolate?!?

Thank you all again for the support and keep telling your friends to check us out!