Tornado Riders

London bike polo players usher in a new era of talent

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"Bike polo is addictive," Jessie says. "People fall in love with it instantly and then ask, 'How did this become such a big part of my life so quickly?'" 

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High-energy and incredibly physical, bike polo is a contact sport in which both genders get equal treatment: "If girls want to play rugby in schools, they have to play touch rugby," says Nik. "What is that? In bike polo, women are allowed to play just like the guys." 

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Amid the chaos of swinging mallets and bikes whizzing across asphalt, spills and collisions are inevitable: "During the second to last game, I was playing against a notorious head-down player…He crashed into me at full speed," recalls Erin. "He fell backwards, and I fell backwards on my wrist. I didn't realize it was broken until after the tournament. I just played on."

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"There is really good sportsmanship because everyone is so close," Jessie says. "If someone does pull a crazy move they get heckled to death by spectators and get sent to the sin bin. This is our sport and we wrote the rules."

The social aspect of the game is what keeps many girls coming back to the courts. "It's an international community and you meet new people at every single tournament," Julia says. "I have friends all over the world—in the South Pacific, in Japan, in Canada and the United States—all because of bike polo."

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When she thinks back to her last tournament in Berlin, Jessie says it's the camaraderie—not her win-loss record—she remembers most fondly. "I kept seeing my girls… We were all screaming for each other so much that the next day we couldn't speak. It was a bonding moment where we understood why we do it: It's for each other." 

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