Living Alaska: In bike polo, players ‘wear a helmet, bring beer and a really good attitude’
Spencer Mitchell corrected me when I said bike polo was a hobby.
“It’s a lifestyle,” he said.
He explained bike polo simply: Three versus three for a timed match or the first team to five points. Typically, teams play with two forwards and a defenseman, who protects the goal, and games last about 15 minutes.
“It’s called bike polo, but it’s more similar to hockey or soccer,” Mitchell explained. “[The name] really came from bikes being like steel horses.”
The sport first came to my attention while attending class at UAA — probably from Mitchell, who was also a student at the time. Like books and movies I hear about in passing, I put it on the list of interesting, but forgotten, things I wanted to check out.
Then bike polo grew.
I heard two 20-somethings talk about it inside of the Bear Tooth Grill. Pictures of it popped up in my Facebook newsfeed time-and-time again and a “How to Play Bike Polo” YouTube tutorial showed up in my recommended list.
I was smitten all over again.
The game has grown since I first heard of it. From rules to gear, Mitchell said bike polo has evolved into a more technical and skillful sport in his roughly five years of playing.
There were only three rules back then:
- If your foot touches the ground, you have to go to tap the red line before you’re back in play.
- Contact is encouraged.
- Don’t be a jerk.
Now, there are 25 pages of rules.
“When I started playing people were checking each other into the walls; breaking bikes,” Mitchell said. “Now, it’s more for the fun and less for the ‘how strong am I’ machismo.”
Mitchell also began playing with a mountain bike and used a hockey stick, with PVC pipe, as a mallet. Now, the gear he uses is built specifically for the game.
In Anchorage, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays bike polo players meet either downtown at the outdoor hockey rink on the Delaney Park Strip or at the outdoor rink at Ben Boeke. Mitchell said most nights 12 to 15 players show up, but at times they’ve had more than 20.
The group of bike polo players go by Anchorage’s Finest Bike Polo on Facebook — but Mitchell said that’s “as official as it gets.” He said they’ve thought about trying to become a nonprofit, so they could use grants or be able to have more communication with the city, but they’ve had “a lot of luck underground.”
Bike polo could continue to grow, and likely will if the local community keeps the attitude Mitchell projects — Anchorage bike polo is for anyone who wants to give it a shot.
“It’s really more than a bike polo club, it’s a community and we’re very welcoming. You come out, we’ll lone you a bike and put a helmet on you. It’s a good time and we really want to share that with other people.
“Anyone and everyone is welcome,” Mitchell said. “Age, sex, walk of life, race; we don’t care, we’re happy to have you. Come be our friend.”
He said anyone interested in playing can contact them on Facebook or just show up at an event. All you need is to “wear a helmet, bring beer and a really good attitude.”
Megan Edge is a lifelong Alaskan residing in West Anchorage. The views expressed here are not necessarily the views of KTVA. Living Alaska is a regular feature, appearing on KTVA.com, about experiencing the Last Frontier through the outdoors.
The post Living Alaska: In bike polo, players ‘wear a helmet, bring beer and a really good attitude’ appeared first on KTVA 11.