I am thoroughly exhausted after this past weekend. Not just my body, but my mind as well. You may think it is because I partied too hard watching the Packers or I am bummed about the Brewers in the post season performance. No, I’m wiped out from coordinating an entirely different type of ball sport: bicycle polo.
This past weekend Milwaukee Bike Polo Club hosted 42 teams from 9 states at the Midwest Open Bike Polo Tournament presented by Nomad World Pub. The weekend-long event kicked off on Friday night with a registration party at Nomad. With over 130 players and their entourage in town, the Nomad’s new on-street bike corral couldn’t handle the amount of bike polo players who descended on the bar.
Saturday’s matches started by around 10am and were split into AM and PM divisions. The Swiss rounds, a tournament format that pits teams with similar records against each other, made for a long day as over 150 matches were played on 3 courts in Washington Park. The predicted rain held off but the wind was fierce. Even with the four-foot-high plywood boards surrounding the court, chasing the ball from east to west was an effort. The blustery day also made for a chilly night as games continued until the park closed at 10pm. Thanks to all the spectators who stuck out the cool fall night to watch us play!
The top 16 teams from each division were then seeded into a 32-team double elimination bracket that took place on Sunday. Again the forecasted rain never appeared and another beautiful fall day was in place. Sunday is when things can get a bit tense for a sport where your main prize is bragging rights, pride, and honor and maybe some swag and a homemade trophy. As the day wore on and teams began to get eliminated, the crowds around the main courts grew.
The final match was between Baby Faces (MKE) and Guardians (SEA). In the double elimination format though the winner of the losers bracket must eliminate the winner of the winner’s bracket to knock them out of the tournament. If Guardians were going to win it all, they had to beat Baby Faces twice. Guardians wowed the crowd, and the Baby Faces, with a 5-0 win the first match thus forcing a final game in the chill night air as spectators huddled together for warmth.
In the final match the teams would play 20 minutes or until the winner scored 5 points. A low scoring match ended at time with Baby Faces winning 2-1. Immediate celebration with the trophy and a cooler of PBR followed on the court. Prizes were awarded for some of the other categories like MVP and Most Drunk. And we all packed up and headed back to the Nomad to celebrate a great weekend of friendly competition.
The Midwest Open marked the end of a busy season that started in May and included travel to competitions across the country. While the winter off-season will give provide an opportunity for both bodies and bank accounts to recover, come early spring the 2012 Bike Polo competition will rev up once again. Until then the Polo-curious can come give this great sport a try on Sundays in at Washington Park on the same two amazing polo courts (right next to the Basketball courts) used for the Midwest Open.
I have to give one last big shout out to our killer sponsors for helping make all of this happen, especially Nomad World Pub, our presenting sponsor. Thanks also to Milwaukee Bicycle Company, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Great Lakes Distillery and Panaracer for your support and all the great prizes for the podium. Of course we remain grateful to the Gold Medal winning Milwaukee County Parks Department for letting us transform an unused tennis court into a Bike Polo heaven!