Let's find out!
-Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Tomasito. At the end of 2009 I moved from London to Amsterdam with Bianca and here I've set up my own literary consultancy business. Essentially I read and write for a living..
I'm Todd and I make Graphics for Fashion and T-shirts and stuff.
I also play bike polo.
I’m Mat, or to my ‘geezers’ Matty Boy. I’m also known as Golden Wheel. I work for DC Europe (dcskateshoeco.), where I manage the mainline footwear business into the UK Multiples.
-Where are you from and what’s your cycling history?
I'm from Grimsby Town but have lived in London for 13 years.
Grimsby X Hackney. A dangerous mix.
Bikes have always been in my life. I’ve been through periods of BMX, MTB, and Racing bikes but I love early 90’s mtb’s the most and all those awesome magazine ads which went with them. Crazy graphics.
I only have 2 bikes now. My FBM Sword polo bike, and an old ’73 track bike which I use for everyday riding when not on the court.
I’m a rare breed, actually born and raised in London - Enfield to be exact. Now live in Hackney, East London, just round from Murder Mile- init, ya get me bruv...pop, pop!
Been riding all sorts of bikes since I was a kid, but my main history is in BMX.
Started riding BMX in the mid 90’s, got seriously into it around late 90’s (the Leigh on Sea, Playstation, Radlands and original Cantelowes days), then been on off from late 00’s to now (more off these days because of Polo).
BMX has been a massive influence on my life and still is now. I think that shows in how I approach Polo - just look at my Polo bike for a start.
I have so much thanks to give BMX and now Polo. Without these bike cultures, my life would be so different.
I'm one of those irritating people who tends to reply to such questions with 'I'm not from anywhere.' I was living in Germany in the mid-'80s when I got my first bike - a BMX with coaster break - and quickly progressed to riding a Huffy mountain bike. Later on, living in the USA I got into steel framed vintage racing bikes, though none of them made it back across the water when I moved to the UK again. In 2007 I converted an old Peugeot racer into a fixed wheel, ditched my Marin hybrid, and haven't looked back since.
-When and how did you find bike polo?
I’d heard about Polo a few years ago originally through the Fixed scene. At first I thought it sounded a bit ‘whack’ and ‘trendy’. It wasn’t until Toddy started playing and coaxed me into watching some league games that my opinion changed. Then when I finally had a go at a Mitch throw in session, I was hooked. Think a few weeks later I built up a bike specifically for Polo (the Cutter) and then soon after that, went out to Paris for a tourney (I should add that La Schmoove was born then).
Over this short period, Polo has just grown more and more important to me. My connection with it is deeper than just playing essentially what is a stick and ball game on a bike. Guess its because I found Polo at a time when I needed something new to focus on. I'm def not gonna let it go for awhile!
In January 2007 I read about bike polo in Matt Seaton's Guardian column. Some players from Oxford announced a demo day in Clapham Common; I'd never heard of bike polo before, but it sounded fun so I went along and gave it a go. This was before bike polo was being played in London and we used heavy wooden mallets and a football - so it was a very rudimentary version of the game we now play. 6 months later I caught wind of polo being played in Brick Lane, so I went along there and met many of the players who are our friends and closest rivals today. Incidentally, Alexis from Oxford who set up that first game in Clapham now lives in Amsterdam, so we're still playing together on a regular basis.
I'd wanted to play bike polo for a long time. Back in the day when London Hardcourt began at Brick Lane I desperately wanted to get involved but worked every weekend. It seemed to be a Sunday only thing. Then I switched jobs and the gate opened. Then people began playing on evenings.
So I got my first taste in November 2009. I just sat and watched. Took mental notes. And returned a week later with a purposely built bike.
Polo was there for me when I needed it. I'm still in debt to it.
-What motivates you to keep playing?
I enjoy playing bike polo both casually and competitively, and it is the simple beauty of the game itself that keeps me going. On moving to Amsterdam it was great for B and I to be able to rock up at the court and make a group of fantastic friends right away, all of whom share a common love for this bizarre bicycle ball sport. Right now being away from the other two Cosmics means I've really got to be able to step it up whenever we are reunited for tournaments, so that is my driving motivation right now in terms of competitive polo. We are currently playing at our highest standard yet, so I'm motivated by the prospect of strong performances in the Euros and the Worlds this summer.
I love the game. I love the stage it's at and being a part of it. London's polo community are good friends. It has become an important thing to me and I want to play the best I possibly can. It's something I like working on.
A few things…
Progression: I love the challenge to improve because I want to become one of the best players and Cosmic the best team. I’m critical of myself after every game I play, be it a throw in or a team game. I’m always thinking of new ideas on how to improve. Progression excites me.
Winning: I’m not going to lie, I play to win. It gives me a sense of achievement. If Cosmic play in a tourney and don’t do as well as expected, we use the mistakes and experience as a lesson to improve. Then next time we will take the win.
Travel: Polo’s a great excuse to visit new places and meet new people – it mixes life up. I went round the world once with my BMX, one day I’d like to do that with my Polo bike – of course hitting up as many different Polo scenes as possible.
Friendship: Playing Polo has opened up a new bike community to me. As a result, I've made some awesome new mates, who I've already shared so many amazing times with. Just want them to keep those times coming.
Fun: This is the biggest motivation. If I’m not having fun on my bike when playing Polo there’s no point in playing anymore.
-Polo seems to be changing fast, what’s your take on things now and for the
Things are good. People are paying more attention. New rules are coming in to assist a quality game. Purpose built bikes are popping up. It's growing.
I just wanna play. That's it. Whatever happens.
My view is that because of where Polo currently is (young and still small), any of us can influence its direction or image – which is part of the attraction. Although most players just want to turn up and have fun (that’s totally cool), there are others who are stepping up to take Polo forward and this is what makes things exciting.
However, there is some 'Polotics' amongst the more outspoken players, which can cause friction in the 'community'. Sometimes I feel there is more talk happening off the court than on it, which results in the game itself suffering. This can be more evident in London due to the concentrated high number of players, all fighting to get involved in Polo. But I guess this is just part of the developing process and anyway, you can always just choose to ignore the aspects you don't wish to be apart of. Make Polo what you want it to be for yourself!
Just to touch back on the London scene, overall, I reckon its the strongest and potentially most progressive - so at the Worlds, watch out US!
On the grander scale, in the immediate future I still see all sorts of ideas coming and going in Polo before it finds a settled place. Eventually rules and other aspects of the game will become more standardized. There will definitely be a more serious competitive aspect of Polo, with more teams playing tactically and getting sponsored. There will also be more companies supplying specific Polo product as well as Polo player owned brands starting up. Although, I don’t see Polo becoming an Olympic sport any time soon or unfortunately even having any specific courts built (well not in London) for quite awhile.
All I hope is that Polo keeps developing in the favour of those who play.
Polo bikes will forever be tweaked and upgraded, so I needn't comment on trends in bike set-up. As a sport, hardcourt bike polo has developed to the stage where a universal set of rules can't be far away. Skill levels have gone up to the extent that the best teams have created moves, calls and patterns of play, and at every tournament these moves get adapted and adopted. Media attention and sponsorships will continue to grow as the bike polo image gets stronger, but players as a whole are critically aware of the risks of certain associations so I am confident the sport will avoid selling out. For now at least.
-How do you keep your energy levels up? Refreshment of choice? Snacks?
It depends where I’m playing. If during the day at Downham, a bottle of Lipton Ice Tea quenches any thirst and a Mars Bar keeps the energy levels up. But when at Broadway, a can of beer with pie and chips from the local chippy is a must. On the way home from Souths, a Brick Lane bagel and a cup of tea is always a good shout. As you can see, my diet is that of a true athlete!
I tend to forget to eat at polo. Cider and 1664 are essential rehydrants and a well-timed Mr Tom can work wonders for energy levels.
I generally eat well when at home and before games. Courtside it doesn't always stay so healthy though I do try.
Nuts, Chocolate, Bananas, Pitta & Houmous, Water, and a Beer. Or two...
-Describe your team-mates.
Todd - God of the Cosmos, master craftsman, artist and artisan. The source of infinite calm. Toddy is a true original both on and off the court, an old spirit hiding behind the greatest beard in polo. On-court he is lightning fast, has the stick handling of a Jedi, and once he's got the ball he's not going to lose it easily. He can put up a wall when he's in goal, and at the other end of the court he can slot the ball into the tiniest of gaps. Above all he has a unique vision of the wider picture in a game; he sees lines of play even before they have appeared - he's a revolution ahead of the rest.
Mat - God of Chaos, hastler and hustler, master tactician and the element of surprise in the Cosmic melting pot. His bike handling is so good that he could compete in any cycling format and be up there jostling amongst the very best. In bike polo it means he can stick to any player and rob them of the slightest space in which to turn - very frustrating to play against! Some of his moves are truly mind-blowing. His first time wheelie-goal in the UK Champs on the receiving end of a blind-side pass was one of the most skillful moves I've ever seen on a polo court.
Mat is always pushing hard to progress. He has a controlled chaos. Always trying new stuff and forever the polo enthusiast. He likes to play a team game and will always be flying around looking for every opportunity to pass or shoot the ball. I've never seen anyone turn so close to the floor. I know he can be frustrating to play against. He's everywhere! He doesn't enjoy being still that's for sure. Of all players I’ve ever known, Mat is certainly one who is constantly testing himself and learning new skills. Pushing things forward.
Tom has a very unique style and is such a pleasure to watch. He can pull a goal out of the bag at any time in the most tricky of situations. He's mega fast too with no fear. The best thing is picking him out with a fast perfect pass and seeing what he does with it. He also plays in nice shoes! Calm to the finish. Magical!
London polo will never be the same without him.
To me Tom is Cosmic’s team captain. He’s the classic English gent – a fine tailored polo player. However, under that well mannered persona, is a player who commands authority on the court through a fast and powerful, yet smooth style, with one of the biggest swings in the game. When Tom winds it up, it’s a beautiful sight and no-one scores better goals from the charge.
Toddy is Cosmic’s creative director, he contains the magic. His style is so original and calm it’s like no other players. Sometimes it’s like watching a polo wizard, with his mallet as the wand. He’s done so many awesome things already and it’s been great to watch his game develop.
I look to Todd for inspiration and motivation more than anyone else in Polo, not only because I know he’s always challenging himself to improve but we both seem to view the game in a similar way. I also love the passion Todd shows for Polo, when he plays, he plays. Oh and of course, Toddy’s always got my back!
-How would you describe the Cosmic style?
It's just something awesome to be a part of. We don't have specific roles and are always switching around. We like playing good polo.
We’re very much a team.
Flowing moments of cosmic brightness!
Whether stylish or tasteless, Cosmic is unique. We adopt the strongest of symbols - Gods and stars, totems and tokens, the power of 3 and the evil eye - preferably with glitter and holographics thrown in to boot.
-What's next on the polo bike parts list?
Next on the upgrades list is a rear V-Brake. Hopefully Super Ted is going to weld some rear V mounts onto the Cutter. If not, I may consider a different frame which offers a decent brake set up as well as wider tire clearance. But the dream is to design a Cosmic Polo specific team bike - now that would be awesome!
My set-up is remarkably constant - I have changed very little since we won the Cambridge tournament last summer. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.Riding fixed is such a key part of how I play polo that I'm not tempted to switch to freewheel as so many other players have done recently. Top of the list of things I need: a new front brake set-up and also some new cranks w/bashguard so that I can go that little bit more spinny.
Tyres! Always tyres.
I'm happy with my bike right now. It feels right. Though it's about time we got some decent wheels covers sorted. Purple or silver ones!
-You have a day to yourself, it is sunny outside and you have no obligations to do anything for anyone. You are, in short, a man at leisure in the world. Sadly, there is no polo to be played. How do you spend your day?
Lie in, but not too long. Take the pretty bikes out with Bianca for a spin around the city, grab a coffee at one of the markets, check out a 2nd hand bookshop or two for any hidden treasures then ride out of town into the countryside. Later on cook some soup to a mellow soundtrack, beers on the balcony then roll out again for a little one-on-one practice on the canal-side court as the sun is setting. Perfect :)
Polo doesn't just happen on the court! We need days to build mallets and fix up our bikes.
If there's strictly no polo, a bike ride to the park, to a gallery, or to the seaside would be perfect.
I'd probably make something too. Or do a few drawings and listen to music.
What! A sunny day and no Polo! In real life this wouldn’t happen. But for the sake of the question, if this situation did arise and my girl was free, of course I’d hang with her. We’d probably grab the road bikes and go for a pedal around the city and along the river, stopping at a market for Fika as well as checking out some galleries along the way. If no-one was free, I might go for a session on the BMX at Mile End or Cantelowes Bowl and maybe play some ping pong in London Fields – although I’d probably get played off after the first game. Or I’d just stay in doors and make a mallet!
-Give me 3 words of your choice.
Eye. Hand. Time
POLO. IS. LIFE
Halcyon. Schlep. Triangle