Friday, March 20, 2015

Outlaw races At the polo Fields...

      After few balancing sessions in our bumpy back yard on 11th ave in the sunset my dad took me to the polo fields to ride a bike for the first time.. I never had training wheels on that first bike a 20" sewup tired Legnano with a 3 speed freewheel. I remember riding free for the first time in the east turn of the polo fields. I don't know when this was but certainly some time before 1971.heres a photo from a couple of years later at an event I went to at the polo fields mom made the shirt!!
the cookie, the levers on the top(right rear yech)the thick glasses..must be 71 0r 72  PLEASE NOTE:
no fence on the pole line(behind my elbow)OH yeah I am facing against traffic..
I didn't think about the polo fields much for a while other than it was a part of "my backyard" as I then refered to golden gate park. I went to a frisbee contest  at the polo fields sometime in the 80's , the frisbee people I knew came up to me and asked me if i wanted to change my entry from novice to expert as I did fairly well. I declined, and won a pair of roller skates from the skate shop that was opened on pier 39 to capatalize on the roller skate craze which was nearing a peak then ,,good thing as my score would have won me a moped in expert division... but I digress.. let me fast forward a bit..

I went to DC for Zo bags in 1991 and was reignighted with the urge to ride a fixie again  (I had sold my last "true "track frame in 198>? becuase I had outgrown it and I had got the converted gitane I had been riding fixed after that left me a new home a few years before),Anyhow after being rebitten I infected more messengers and after  a few years there was quite a group of us and I wanted to have races. The polo fields was the ideal place, I had a memory of it from bike events I had witnessed or taken part in earlier years having little idea of the great history before me except for in one of Raymond Clearys Golden Gate Park history books where a copy of one of the older park maps showed the polo fields as "the san francisco bicycle racing stadium. heres some flyers from that period when we had night races..

In those years I rarely rode there in the daytime except for maybe the odd lap.just too many people walking dogs and the like. the above flyer makes reference to that"its only safe at night" at this point there was still no fence on the pole line as there is today. SO it was safe to race with others and bump with out fear.
At a certain point the inner part of the polo fields was closed to refurbish the turf and maybe put in a new irragation system. They fenced the tunnel and put a fence around the inside of the upper dirt track to keep people out. For a few months we tried to race on the dirt ,but ended up going over the fence and using the track as we had. This continued for a while and they put a fence on the pole line during this time..
     We no longer felt safe on the track with others each of us fearing putting someone else into the fence more than going into it ourselves. We enjoyed these nights though and rather than give them up we resorted to having time trials on the track. This was rather boring so right from the start we started putting quarters down o a table of the possible finishing times with the closest bettor keeping the pool. We might still be doing that today but before they took the fence from the upper track down the park patrol caught us twice and that kind of ended the polo fields for me.. but I have always kept hope that it would be made right again some time .. and that was one reason we had those races to prove to the park powers that Citizens do want to use the track and will go to great measures to do so if its safe,..
another few photos from a lap of remeberence i rode in there..

Oscar Juner was central to the polo fields and races there from at least the 50's these photos below are from the ride to remember his life. I was the youngest rider there.. note the fence that caused me to stop having races there on the pole line..not something you would want to ride into...

American Cyclery was Oscars shop..(Orht on one of the above flyers was one of Oscars mentors..Oscar in turn mentored many a bay area racer..) Bradley currently at the helm at American Cyclery has done a smash up job of working through Oscars archives and has had some of it on display at the San Francisco International Airport..some of that show can be seen here:
Friends of the Polo Fields

Ok thats all for today ,but if you are so inclined I have posted content regarding Polaroids and the use of them on my other blog which is here:Manual Instant Cameras thanks for looking..and all the best
Misster Pissta
p.s. have a nice ride

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