Local man serves joustice

Jeff Rome

Staff Writer

Two warriors adorned in duct-taped gym mats faced each other and prepared for a chivalrous duel. Atop mountain bikes and armed with PVC pipes, they came to defend their honor in the Bike Joust.

At 2 p.m. on Sundays at Granite Creek Park, a handful of college students and locals gather to contest for glory. Contestants wear BMX and Motocross helmets to deflect the PVC pipes that could unintentionally end up hitting them square in the head.

Prescott College senior Alex Silberman, who began the Bike Joust last spring, pulled up at two o’clock sharp. He sported a self-designed T-shirt with the words “I Hate Hipsters.” From his van he took two identical PVC pipes, each one eight feet long, with black boxing gloves duct-taped to the ends. A punk/metal/reggae band played from his stereo.

Like any gentlemanly sport, bike jousting has its rules. Head shots are a penalty. Dropping the lance equals a loss. A faint line in the grass demarcates the jousting arena.

“The main casualties of bike jousting tend not to be people,” says Silberman, “but bicycles.” Injuries are uncommon and minor.

This time last year, gear for the first joust meant plastic wrapped around the torso, and a lot of it. Now, the body armor is thick enough and covers so much area that pedaling can be difficult at first. “Taekwondo pads are the best,” Silberman said, because they are aerodynamic and have a big red dot in the middle — the perfect target.

Many jousters practice pedaling beforehand so as to duel with grace and dignity when the time comes.

Silberman’s inspiration for the Bike Joust was the Black Label Bicycle Club in Minneapolis. They joust on tall bikes — two bike frames atop one another — over pavement and without body armor.

Silberman is thinking about occasionally swapping the boxing gloves for giant stuffed animals, though they could be a little ungainly to use for every match. He welcomes any odd stickers people come across to add to the lances.

Because Silberman will be spending this spring semester in Kino Bay, Mexico, he hopes someone will take the reins in his absence. If not, the joust will have to wait until fall.

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