Product

DZR Talks the Marco

December 5, 2013
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If you didn’t get enough of Brian Dillman’s pretty face going around yesterday, we have some more of him for you today! As DZR’s hardcourt representative, Dillman gives us some insight into their new bike polo specific shoe, the Marco (not to be confused with the Rustbelt’s bike polo specific frame of the same name). With the shoe due out tomorrow at 12pm PST, he wanted to tell us about the aspects of the shoe that are going to make it the best clipless shoe for our sport (just ask anyone on the Guardians or the Beavers). So before buying a pair, check out the video!

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Editorial

Teams Who Feel the Love and Hate

December 4, 2013

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There was a lot of hate at Worlds this year, not to say that there isn’t plenty of hate most other years.  What’s particularly interesting is why some of the top Teams get more hate and others get nothing but super love. In general, it’s more fun to root for the underdogs but I wanted to take a more in depth look at the love and hate for each of the top teams.

The Beavers
The Beavers got hella hate, at least until the final game, at Worlds. We were even able to witness that magical Dillman moment after they beat the Assassins (see the above photo). This year The Beavers have been on top of their game, dominating North Americans and the Worlds. Many spectators felt that The Beavers came in a little too confident, which really makes people want to roll their eyes instead of support. They had a bit of an ego after winning North Americans and were convinced they would take the Worlds trophy home this year (which I’m pretty sure sat on Kremin’s lap the whole plane ride back to SF…barf).  During the tournament, The Beavers remained focused, with their pop up tent far from the crowd. You won’t typically find them socializing because they are busy talking strategy and broing out over tactics. This is often a turn off to fans who are used to hanging out with top teams like The Guardians throughout the whole tournament.

Call Me Daddy
Call Me Daddy pretty much dominates all of the European Tournaments that they enter, and as I said before, there isn’t a lot of love for Teams who win all the time.  Besides that, while Call Me Daddy play a conservative game, they are total instigators.  I don’t know how many goalies you need to put in the goal to win tournaments, but apparently it’s three.  It’s no mystery that stacking the goal is not fun to watch (can we please institute a crease now?), and Call Me Daddy turned it into their main defensive tactic (or even an art form for that matter). Who can argue if it works for them, even if it’s not the sort of play that is going to put the crowd on your side?  Instigating your opponents will also be a turn off to the crowd.  It was infuriating when Polo tapped Andrew (of The Control) on the head with his mallet after Andrew tried to calm an inciting feud. This caused “Boos” to ring around the court and left a bad taste in the spectators mouths.

The Assassins
It’s no real surprise why The Assassins had a huge following at Worlds.  Not only are they an amazing team to watch (they are the team we should show people to get them interested in polo), but they lost their teammate Evan early in the tournament.  Lucky enough Nick Kruse was able to step in, and boy we were not disappointed with that substitution.  The Assassins are not only humble polo nerds, but they know how to wow a crowd.  For reals, I almost couldn’t heckle their games because my mouth was open and yelling “OH SHIIIIT” or “DAAAAAMN” the whole time. Plus as a lefty, I can’t help but lust after the banging shot of Joe.

The Edisons
I still have The Edisons chant in my head! Since it was so prominent and loud on the last day of the tournament, I imagine that it may have been heard from space. They are definitely in tight contention with The Assassins for the most loved team at Worlds. What can we say, they’re just fun. Fun to watch with bike handling skills that will make even the top players jealous, and fun to hang out with. Also, David playing the whole tournament with a broken toe is just badass. While they may be in the top 5 in most tournaments they enter, you probably wouldn’t get the feeling that they are one of the best by just hanging with them, and it’s that kinda attitude that made many of us fall in love with polo to begin with. I mean come on, look at these faces…

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(Thanks to Matt Kabik and Taniuchi Riki for the photos)

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.