Cycle Polo in Missoula
If you find yourself wandering downtown Missoula and hear clashing or screaming outside of Draught Works Brewery, or the local Free Cycle shop, you will come to realize that your not in trouble. It's just Missoula's local gang practicing Bike Polo.
Polo is what they do on their free time, and it can become somewhat viscous.
Hard rubber balls, plastic mallets, helmets, pads, a great attitude, and of course bicycles together form the exquisite sport of Cycle Polo.
"We go hard here.....We go really hard! When I played in Vancouver I was getting a lot of more brutality then I am here. But here...It's more friendly," said Evan Craig-Langston, a local polo player.
The hard court is a love hate situation for these polo practitioners. The sport brings injuries with it, but bonds them together on a weekly basis. Polo gives them time to release their weekly stress. Whether they are in a game or chatting on the sidelines with their beverage of choice in hand.
"Bike polo I think breeds it's sense of community that you don't see anywhere else because it's just an amateur game held in shady places like this," replied local polo organizer Doug Brinkerhoff.
It's a game of few rules that allows three types of contact. Mallet on mallet, person on person, and bike on bike. In cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver the sport is taken very seriously. But in Missoula it's all about the laughs and experiences.
"Polo is a game for rich people with horses and bike polo in the 50's came out as a way for people to originally mock it. And then it became kind of you know a way to practice mallet handling you know off the court," explained local polo player Gill Wiggin.
After high school team sports aren't as easy to keep up with. A real life working schedule comes into play. But this group of common minds won't let anything come in between them and their bicycles whether they meet three times a week or three times a month.
"We all work at least five or six days a week and we make time to play polo, and get injured and laugh about it," replied Langston.
The gang always brings an extra bike for whoever comes across their practice and wants to join. They get together three times a week at the parking garage on the University Of Montana's campus.