Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bike Polo

Have you ever even heard of "bike polo", dear reader? I had not until my Australian friend started playing in Melbourne, and informed me that the game had started in Seattle. Officially Hardcourt Bike Polo, the game is just as it sounds- teams of 3 atop bicycles use mallets to hit a ball into end goals.
The main rules are that you can't touch your foot to the ground- if you do you have to "tap out" on the side of the court as a brief penalty- and you have to score a goal with the end of the mallet (not the side). You can't "chicken wing", putting your arm underneath another player's arms. Otherwise you just play! There are no assigned positions, though one player on the team is usually guarding their goal while "tripodding" on the mallet, though if they want to break away and go forward, another team member can drop back to defend the goal, or leave it unattended.
It's a fairly new game, and only the third year there have been World Championships. This year, the Worlds were hosted in Seattle! It was a 4-day event at Magnuson Park, and my friend from Australia was here competing. There were 64 teams, mostly from North America and Europe, plus a few from Australia and Asia. In a round-robin double elimination system, they started ranking the teams over a few days. It was a blazingly hot, sunny weekend for Seattle, and those player played a lot of games. I got sweaty just standing and watching.
Luckily the courts were by Lake Washington, so we could swim when we got overheated. Games are only 15 minutes, a perfect amount of time for me to get into it but not have to be too committed to watch the whole thing. Some family and friends came to watch, and it made for a great mix of spectating, swimming, and picnics.
The final game was an intense match between a Swiss team and a Vancouver team. They were both fast and amazing ball-handlers. The game was neck and neck, and even tied at the end. Then in overtime, a Canadian sped forward and made a perfect shot, ending the game and leaving their team undefeated. I had pride for a Cascadia team winning, but really it was just awesome to watch so many talented, dedicated players.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Rumpot

It's a little late to be telling you about this, but while it's still barely summer I must mention it. From Germany (where it's called Rumtopf), this drink is made to capture the essence of summer fruit in liquor and be enjoyed at Christmas. Here's how it works: Get an earthenware or glass jar with a lid. Starting at the beginning of summer, put ripe, clean fruit (chopped) into the pot with half the fruit's weight in sugar. So if you have a pound of strawberries, put a half pound of sugar. Cover the fruit with an inch or two of dark rum and makes sure all the pieces are submerged. Store the jar in a dark place. As other fruit comes into season, add more fruit and sugar. I started mine in late July and so far have put blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and blackberries. Plums are next, then I will call it good. Then forget about it until December. Strain the fruit out and drink the fruity rum, savoring the dark of winter while remembering the abundance of summer.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Last Sunday I competed in my first triathlon! I've wanted to do the Steve Braun Memorial Triathlon on Orcas Island ever since I was living there in 2008. I was always busy on Labor Day weekend when it was held, but this year I knew I would be around since my friend from Australia would be here visiting. I was home from Europe for just over a month by the time the triathlon was held, and I figured that wasn't much time to train for all 3 events. Then it hit me: biking was my weakest event, and my Australian friend was an awesome cyclist! So we decided to enter as a team, with me doing the swim, then him biking, then me running at the end. We called ourselves "Team Rocket" and sewed matching logos onto our clothes.

It couldn't have been a nicer day for the race. It was held at Cascade Lake at Moran State Park, and was surprisingly warm and sunny for September. It was my first open-water swimming event, and actually a little harder than I thought it would be. As I swam out into the cool lake with the other participants, I had to keep lifting my head up to make sure I was swimming toward the buoy. It felt like I was going nowhere fast, but then I finally crawled out of the water to tag Scott who was in the transition area. It turns out I swam the .4 miles in 11 minutes and 40 seconds, putting me in about the top third of the racers, so I was pretty happy about that.
Scott took off on his bike, a beautiful road bike that he built himself right before coming to the U.S. I changed clothes, stretched, and chatted with a friend, figuring I had plenty of time before I would start running. Then suddenly, there was Scott, coming back! My first thought was, 'We're in first place! I have to run now!' and I jumped up. Then it occurred to me that he was not riding, but walking his bike. Turns out he had gotten a flat tire just miles into the course, and had no way to fix it nor a spare tube. He had hitch-hiked back to the lake. It was such bad luck! But I still wanted to run, so I did, enjoying the sunny day and the race atmosphere as I crossed the finish line. It's a bummer that we don't have an actually overall time, but we still had fun and neither of us put too much pressure on ourselves. It was a good introduction to triathlons, and hopefully next year I will do a whole one by myself, and with no flats!