Friday, October 2, 2009

The Sport of Kings

Polo has been called the 'Sport of Kings'.  But then again, so has horse racing, cricket, bowling and wild-boar hunting.  But we will focus on the polo designation today.  However, before we get to our discussion of polo and how it is related to the COMO cycling scene, permit me, if you will, to take a little 'Sport of Kings' tangent.  In doing my research for this post, I learned that another item of interest labeled the 'Sport of Kings' was the 8th album by the Canadian band 'Triumph' pictured here in the heyday of all of their hard-rocking glory.  What could this possibly have to do with cycling, you may ask?  Wait for it....wait for it....

When I read about Triumph's 8th royally-titled album, I thought to myself, "Triumph....Triumph....Triumph.  I know I should know a song by Triumph.  What in the hell did they sing?"  And after a little research and some painful moments on iTunes, it all came back...they sound kind of like the red-headed step-kid of fellow canuck group, Rush.  I clicked through a lot of the tracks looking for one that I would remember and finally stumbled on "Magic Power."  You can watch a glorious piece of 1983 Triumph performing this number live here if you feel so inclined.

I've viewed this video of Triumph rocking out at the 2-day Heavy Metal Festival so you don't have to.  But if you did watch it, perhaps you noticed the appearance of someone in the crowd at the 0.57 second mark that looked strangely familiar to you as well.  The individual is wearing mirrored sunglasses, sporting a porn-stache and matching beard and drinking lasciviously from a boda bag.

Now it just might be my imagination, but this fellow bears a striking resemblence to one Michael Ball, CEO and head designer of Rock and Republic designer jeans and founder of professional cycling team Rock Racing.

Like a precious time capsule, I'm wondering if this YouTube video captured a seminal moment in young Michael's life in which the lyrics of Triumph's 'Magic Power' imparted their very message into his psyche, which then gave him a vision of the future of bike racing:

"I'm young, I'm wild and I'm free!
I got the magic power of the music in me!"

Fast forward 25 years.  As you likely know, Rock Racing are the so called bad boys of the peloton...Ball's mission being to bring attitude and rock and roll to cycling.  See for yourself from the header of the official Rock Racing website:

Interesting marketing campaign for a professional bike team.  Let's examine this website graphic a little more closely.  Take note of two things: first, the ominous skull motif with the wingy things at the center of the header.

Next, note the slogan on the left of the header: "Never Surrender."

Now let's take a look back in time again at the album Triumph released in 1983, the same year I believe Michael Ball was caught swilling and rocking out to their live show.

Ominous skull-like visage? Check.  Wingy things? Check.  'Never Surrender" slogan? Check.

Coincidence?  Now I'm not suggesting that this little revelation is on par with Dan Brown offering up Mary Magdalene as the Holy Grail (sorry if I spoiled the Da Vinci code for anyone out there), but I do think Michael Ball has got some s'plaining to do!  There might be some kind of copyright infringement going on here and if the members of Triumph are reading and would like to get in touch with me regarding this, I would be happy to speak with them, as I believe an issue of a finder's fee needs to be discussed.

But enough about Michael Ball and Rock Racing and certainly Triumph.  Let's get back to the real Sport of Kings: POLO.  This traditionally equine sport has also been played from the backs of camels, elephants and now Segways, as pictured here:

The concept of Segway polo is a double insult as it not only defaces a great sport, but does so with ridiculous flare.  Further, I find it somewhat disconcerting that the sponsor of this particular Segway polo team makes a preservative-laden, albeit tastey, meat-like product.  Segways, by their very nature, condone an unhealthy lifestyle as they offer a zero-effort-required transportation alternative to walking, running and cycling while simultaneously consuming energy.  To have a segway polo team sponsored by a carcinogenic beef-stick is akin to having Philip Morris partner with Laz-Y-Boy to produce the Marlboro Recliner with inboard minifridge and phone.

No, the true urban Sport of Kings must of course be hard court bike polo.  Played from the saddles of battle hardened fixed gear bikes, these princes of the playground don't play for money or fame, but for the sheer glory of the improvised nature of the entire sport.  Almost every piece of gear they use is homemade, from the bikes, to the large cardboard spoke protectors to the mallets.  Our very own COMO is home to a polo club, appropriately named COMOPOLO.  And on November 7th and 8th, these folks will be hosting the 7th annual Midwest Champeenships which will involve at least 25 teams from all over the country.  I will be posting more on this as the date nears - but you should plan on clearing some time on your calendar right now to check this out.

In addition, the club needs some financial support to make this happen, and thus is holding a Bike Polo Gala and Fundraiser this Saturday night, October 3rd, at the Blue Fugue starting at 8:00 PM.  Michael Ball may think he has cornered the market on rock and roll infused cycling, but the gala promises to sport it's own musical lineup not to be missed with Al Holiday and The Lucky Stars, Nondenom, and Haii Usagi.  In addition, Les Bourgeois winery has donated wine which will be sold as a fundraiser for the club - and you don't even need to drink it out of any ghetto boda bag.  Be there or be tracked down and mallet-whipped by the cyclists of the COMOPOLO apocalypse.

And if there are any closet shitty-80's rock listening, Segway-driving readers out there I've offended - I offer you this peace offering.

The Purple Rain we've always wished for.

Pedal on!

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