Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bike polo a highlight of annual Ciclovia

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Where do old ski poles and golf clubs go to live again? Well, to bike heaven, naturally.

Sunday afternoon, six men on bicycles careered around in a small area north of Broadway and Edmonton Street, playing bike polo with mallets made of recycled clubs and plastic pipe.

Dan Moroz, a player with the Winnipeg Urban Polo Association, stood on the sidelines keeping time with his cellphone over the sounds of ball-whacking and cycle-whizzing. The Sunday-afternoon Ciclovia festival was fertile ground for recruiting people to the unconventional game of bike polo. Thousands came out Sunday to celebrate the event in its second year effort to celebrate cycles and those who ride non-motorized vehicles.

"It brings back the love of ball hockey," said Moroz. "It's always fun when you do, say, a crazy-ass backhand shot from far away or something like that, or shoot it through someone's hoops or their wheels."

Bike polo players usually play on hockey rinks, but Moroz said last year, players were so dedicated they used frigid warehouse space, a far cry from Sunday's bright and sunny weather.

The festival had shut down Broadway from Main Street to Osborne Street, and the thoroughfare was clogged Sunday afternoon with Winnipeggers who opted out of Blue Bomber mayhem at Canad Inns Stadium.

Winnipeg is the first Canadian city to have Ciclovia, which means "bike path" in Spanish. It's modelled on an event that started in Bogota, Columbia in 1974. An estimated 50 per cent of the 10,000 people who attended Ciclovia Sunday came on bicycles, said Nisha Tuli, communications manager for the Downtown BIZ, which hosted the event.

"The point is to shut down a major artery," said Tuli, who said the festival is a chance to "celebrate active transportation and other modes of transportation (other) than cars for one day of the year."

Sticking out from the crowd were Kevin Champagne, a 53-year-old bus mechanic and Kent Russell, a 47-year-old bike mechanic. Both were on recumbent bicycles -- Champagne's cost $3,000 and Russell's $4,000. Recumbents place the rider in a laid-back, reclining position

Russell had a pale blue lace garter wrapped around his low-lying, three-wheel cycle. He said it's the bike that attracts the most attention of the three recumbents he owns.

"They draw a lot of attention, but this thing probably draws the most," said Russell.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2010 B2

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