This year I've developed a sort of un-healthy passion for Hardcourt Bicycle Polo. Unhealthy in the sense that it's possible I might have ignored the advice of doctors, surgeons, physios and osteos warning that continued competition might not bode well for my torn hip cartilage.
Living in Melbourne for four months provided me with an amazing opportunity to improve my game while building a community of life long friends. But perhaps more than any thing else, my time in Melbourne distilled within me a passion for sharing this game with others.
And so I arrived in Beijing 11 days ago with 3 pre-crafted polo mallets in a narrow cardboard box and 2 hockey balls stuffed into the bottom of my bag, armed with the intention of organizing a few polo games while in Beijing-town.
But starting up bike polo seems easier said than done in Beijing. For one, there are few public courts suitable for polo within the inner ring roads; there are some, sure, but it's hard to say whether the neighbors or police will tolerate regular games. In Shanghai, they rent out an athletic space.
Secondly, finding HDPE and ABS gas piping to create mallet heads has been near impossible. While most of the piping found on polo courts across the world is manufactured in China, there appears to be no store selling the pipe in Beijing proper.
So in a creative (desperate) moment, I decided to try something ingenious (rash). I bought a tea bottle, made of super hard plastic, with the intention of making a mallet head.
I know what you're thinking...you polo freaks, you. Doomed from the start, right? Well, you'd be right...but I had to try.
After sawing off the top bit of the water bottle, I started to drill through the sides to make space for the ski pole. The bottle didn't crack during this process, and actually, the holes turned out to be quite nicely. A good start.
Then it was time to attach the bottle to the mallet. The moment of truth:
The bottle cracked as I tightened down the bolt.
And so my hopes were dashed, my dreams deferred.
Without even a single game, the idea of a sippy-cup water bottle mallet fell to the wayside. Tragedy.
In brighter news, it appears we've located a source for the pipe. We've made the order and expect the pipe in two days. Here's hoping.