September 3, 2014

Bike friendly Chambana draws new version of polo

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A small community of cyclists in Champaign-Urbana enjoying bike polo. Spring 2014.

A small community of cyclists in Champaign-Urbana enjoying bike polo. Spring 2014.

By Maddie Rehayem/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — Champaign-Urbana is a biking town, and as an avid biker, that was something I noticed very quickly upon moving here.

Bike lanes run all through both cities as well as campus. Shops like The Bike Co-op and Neutral Cycle provide local cyclists with affordable service and offer to teach people who come in how to maintain a bike themselves, while other stores deal with high-end, professional equipment. People get together to go on group rides.

It’s a bike culture to admire.

I’ve long been biking to commute and for recreation and exercise around Champaign-Urbana, but one thing I’d never tried was playing bike polo – polo with bicycles instead of horses. It’s a sport that a group of area cyclists recently picked up, and with all the fun they’re having, it’s not hard to see why. They welcome anyone to join the three-on-three pickup games they play weekly. Mallets are provided, and someone’s always willing to lend you a bike.

It’s going to take me a few more tries to become competent at bike polo, but I can attest to the fact that it is a one of a kind activity. The do-it-yourself spirit, friendliness and excitement of the game make bike polo one of the most pleasant things to do on two wheels.

This project is the culmination of University of Illinois students’ work during spring 2014 as part of the multimedia reporting course taught by Professor Charles “Stretch” Ledford. The students were instructed to select a topic of interest and use audio and video to share that story. The resulting multimedia projects give an in-depth look at small segments with the Champaign-Urbana community.