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Hardcore on the hardcourt

Hardcourt bike polo may be new to Syracuse, but thanks to a growing local cycling community and Quinn Shamlian, who brought the game with her from New York City, the Salt City is catching up to the polo following in bigger, more cycling-friendly cities throughout the U.S.

The game is relatively simple: replace horses with bikes, set a two cones a bike's length apart at each end of the court, round up two teams of six players, and you're ready to go. Players line up at the endlines and charge the ball all at once at the sound of "marco polo," using homemade mallets to shoot and pass the ball.

A foot on the ground is a foul, and riding through the cones after scoring a goal negates the point.

Intrigued? Bike over to Barry Park on Sundays (at 4:30 p.m.) or Mondays (at 5:30 p.m.) and join the game. The group of around 20 regular players always welcome newcomers, and they promise to take it easy on you while you learn the game.

If you can ride, you can play -- but practicing riding with one hand (while the other is occupied with the mallet) might help you ease into it. Or, just jump in.

"You learn faster that way," said one regular polo player.

Of course, you can always just go watch.

But while you're there, wish good luck to the players headed to the largest hardcourt polo event in Upstate, the Flour City Invitational Aug. 27 to 29 in Rochester.

For more information about hardcourt bike polo in Syracuse, call Shamlian at 401-243-3323 or e-mail quinnsham@aol.com.

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