Madison Magazine

Bike polo: The perfect winter sport?

This type of polo matching is chilling and thrilling,

There's a special reason you see that game of bike polo being played all year round at the outdoor court at Reynolds Park on the east side.

You see, snow is a major impediment to bike polo—a sport played atop bicycles in which athletes use mallets to hit a ball into a net—which means it would certainly make sense that the members of the Madison Bike Polo group would hang up their gear in the winter. But to the bike polo athletes' delight, snow and ice melts away on the pavement of the Reynolds Park court without the help of shovels, plows or salt.

How can that be?

The secret: There's a reservoir under the court that holds water at 50 degrees Farenheit.

The heat keeps the court playable, and the group of bike polo enthusiasts have kept games going at all times of the year for more than 10 years, says Jonny Hunter, a Madison chef and bike polo athlete. He helped lead the successful initiative to have the city of Madison parks division make the Reynolds Park court the official bike polo court in 2014, and he's been a big part of the Madison Bike Polo group that's been playing the rough-and-tumble sport in Madison since 2004.

"Bike polo has been an expanding sport for the last 10 years, and Madison was one of the first cities to start playing," Hunter says. "I have been amazed by the community and passion that the sport has developed and feel proud of how Madison has been a part of it."

The Madison Bike Polo group, which has no formal membership and keeps in touch via the Madison Bike Polo Facebook group, usually plays Sunday afternoons during the winter, Hunter says. Once there's more daylight, they plan to play Tuesdays and Thursdays, too.

"Just come, borrow our bikes and equipment," he says. "[We're] always looking to get new folks playing. We are an inclusive group and make sure that beginners and all genders are welcome." 

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