The Adrenalist

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Moto-Polo in Rwanda



In Rwanda, there are very few horses. Look hard enough and you’ll find gorillas, hippos and giant pangolins, but try mounting any one of those and you’ll end up in the dust if you’re lucky, and more likely dead.

Rwanda does have lots of motorcycles, though. They are the taxis linking the small towns that dot the rolling Rwandan countryside. They are revved up by guys like you and me: Adrenalists looking for a fix.

A fix found by playing moto-polo.

This past week the New York Times caught up with the founders of the upstart sport, Sam Dargan and Matt Smith, two American expats who dreamed up moto-polo some time in 2008.

“We were thinking donkey polo,” Smith says, “but then we realized there are no donkeys in Rwanda.”

Maybe it’s better that way. Motorcycles are faster (drivers hit speeds reaching 45 mph) and riders need a unique set of skills (try hitting a grapefruit-sized banana-leaf ball with a mallet while gripping onto your seat). Maybe the best thing about moto-polo, however, is just how simple it is. There are only two rules: 1) no feet and 2) no jamming mallets into wheels.

Easy enough. Who’s ready to ride?

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