O: What’s Northern Standard (NS) all about and how long have you been doing it?
M: Northern Standard is a 1.5 year old company that makes specialized products for the sport of hardcourt bike polo. We actually started developing a mallet head design well before we became a company and during that process saw lots of opportunity in the sport. We are based in Vancouver British Columbia, which is widely known as a bike polo powerhouse and home to the 2011 world champions. nbd.
O: Where did the name come from?
M: A few months before we became a legit business, I put the word out to the Vancouver polo community to help us come up with a name. Lots of lame suggestions were made… many of which were puns or plays on my name. One day, Tom, a polo regular and generally amazing dude said “Hey man, I got it. You should call your company Northern Standard.” We never looked back and are forever grateful to Tom.
O: What did you do before NS?
M: I did many things but my last job was as Sourcing Manager for lululemon. Basically, my job was to ensure we had the factories to make our product and that the product cost and delivery matched the company’s sourcing strategy. Needless to say, that experience was critical in starting up NS.
O: How long have you been playing Polo?
M: I’ve been playing for over 3 years now. I originally tried polo about 5 years ago but never stuck to it. Then somehow 3 years ago I tried it again and it stuck.
O: Whats the polo scene like in Vancouver?
M: It’s consistent and friendly. We have a solid group of competitive players and generally have a good bunch of beginners and intermediate players to fill the mix. When it’s nice (ie. not raining), pickup will happen almost every day. Everyone is really friendly with each other and are always inviting to new players. Vancouver has also been a bike polo city for over 6 years (which is practically an eternity in this sport) and is regarded as a strong club in the general poloverse.
O: How is cycling a part of your life?
M: I have been passionate about bikes since I was quite young and have always had at least one bike growing up. My mom was always very active and pushed me to be outside and on my bike. Since she retired, she became a bit of a bike fanatic and has gone on countless bike trips all over the world. I even joined her on a couple… but damn she’s slow A few years ago, she got rid of her car and now does everything by bike… everything. It’s pretty amazing for a 72 year old cancer survivor and a daily inspiration to me. As for myself, I raced road bikes for a few years and still like to put on the spandex now and again. I follow road cycling and wake up at 6am in July to watch the Tour. My girlfriend and I are also daily bike commuters and we will typically ride our bikes wherever we can. And of course there is the bike polo, which I try to play a couple times a week.
O: What’s the bike scene like in Vancouver?
M: It’s all over the place. There’s the courier crowd who dont wear helmets, use lights or give a fuck. They put on alleycats and sprints and tend to get involved with some of the bike related events like velopalooza. Somewhat affiliated with the couriers is an underground bike collective/tall bike/builder community that makes weird bikes, leads rides and throws fun parties. There a massive ‘MEC’ commuter crowd who wear fluorescent yellow gear emblazoned with reflective patches and use seizure inducing lights. Unlike the couriers, they can be spotted miles away are tend to be quite militant about stop signs and traffic rules. There is an *ahem* ‘hipster’ crowd who are into the whole fixie and vintage bike thing and there are lots of people like myself who just get around by bike all the time and dont really fit into any sort of genre. The city itself is generally quite bike friendly and is very (mostly) open to bike infrastructure. Luckily we have a very progressive city government who understand the importance of alternative transportation and have done some great things improving the bike infrastructure. Even the drivers are starting to get it but still nobody knows how to properly use a round-about. We are also really fortunate to have a couple of not-for-profit bike shops such as Kickstand and OCB which help to make cycling really accessible in Vancouver. Finally we are home to Momentum magazine, which is a huge cycling advocate and does alot to promote cycling as a way of life.
O: What do you ride?
Milwaukee ‘Polo’ Bruiser – Bike Polo
’94 Vitali Road bike (full campy & matching red fenders) – Daily commuter
Opus Scherzo – Road machine
‘Vintage’ Nishiki converted single speed – AKA ‘The community bike’ as I typically just loan into friends in need