Asheville Carolina Minor bike polo tournament is underway at Carrier Park hockey rink this weekend, Aug. 8-9, in an invitational match of teams from around the Southeast. The event is being hosted by Asheville Hardcourt Bike Polo Club.
About 50-70 players are participating in 10 teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Florida. The tournament features bracket-style elimination play that pairs teams against one another in a series of 30-minute matches being held over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
Bike polo, which was first played in 1891 on grass courts, was originally conceived as a derivative of the long-standing game of horse polo. The modern version, called hardcourt bike polo — such as this weekend’s event — is typically played on repurposed tennis or hockey courts.
This weekend’s teams are facing off in a three-on-three match, competing on a continuous clock. To the observer, bike polo appears like a game of street hockey where the players use bicycles instead of rollerblades and where the hockey stick has been replaced with a modernized croquet mallet. Players utilize single-speed bicycles to propel themselves around the court.
One of the more interesting aspects of the sport and the tournament is the variety of sporting equipment utilized. A walk through this weekend’s tournament grounds revealed an array of bicycles, from high-end, polo-specific rigs to Frankenstein-looking bike monsters seemingly constructed from bargain bins of cast-off parts. Mallets were similarly hodge-podge affairs with some featuring sawed-off ski poles as handles. Clearly, the players are focused on the sport and the enjoyment of the game rather than the prestige of the equipment.
Asheville is represented by two teams this year, the Asheville Brewsers and the Asheville Crewsers, who are defending their titles, earned in a similar tournament in Raleigh last year. Play began at 9 a.m. on Saturday and is continuing through the day on Sunday.
UPDATE: Memphis Bike Polo took home the title in overtime after a tie game with South Florida Bike Polo. Play lasted until after 9 p.m. Complete standings for the tournament can be found here.
Those interested in learning more about hardcourt bike polo can visit the Asheville Hard Court Bike Polo Club group on Facebook.