In 2008, I was living in Chicago, going to school, working and playing bike polo. At the time, Chicago Bike Polo and Milwaukee Bike Polo along with Madison were the major if not the only clubs in the Mid West. The three cities would often play pick-up or sometimes caravan to the other couple tournaments in on the East Coast or Canada when it was warm, but traveling to see each other was vital during the cold Mid Western Winters.
No city had a dedicated court, just places with “agreements” or a “schedules” that allowed players to meet for pick-up. When it was time to shovel, attendance was minimal.
R to L: Guthrie Newman, Meg Lee, Kremin, Zach Rueter.
A few of the Chicago players and I would jump in my 2 door VW with a Bones rack and haul up I-94 to the art museum parking garage in downtown. CBP had a some dedicated players, but no shelter from snow. Milwaukee had both, so we would combine forces and it was awesome.
Every time we went up there, something new happened wether it be a gnarly crash on the grated pavement, or an amazing goal. Everybody was riding a fixed gear. Barley anybody had brakes. Bullhorns were cool and boards were a luxury, mallet technology didn’t exists. A tight play with a goal still meant chasing a ball down a long parking lot, and sections of the court had pillars with no light.
None of that really mattered because we were figuring it out as a group and having tons of fun.
R to L: Guthrie Newman, Zach Rueter, Joe Burge
The garage as a polo spot came to an end when the police shut it down. Attempts to play there afterward were squashed and polo was forced to move on, which was a huge hit to the players, though it was not the best court to play on. It was a sanctuary from the cold and a lit private place where bunch of players and friends could get down really late at night and enjoy what we understood to be Bike Polo.
As Fall ramps up, my current club mates and I dream about an indoor space which always seems out of reach. I think about that garage and what it meant to 3 clubs in the middle of Winter, and how much it helped develop Bike Polo in the Midwest.