We are the champions

Ten bars, 10 events … who will be victorious?

Oasis Bar & Grill

Oasis Bar & Grill

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

About the bars
All the places listed are 21+ except for The Oasis, which is all-ages until 9 p.m., and Madison Bear Garden, which is all-ages until 8:30. The Bear also has a dress code—no beanies or jerseys, however nice they might be.

Crazy Horse Saloon: 303 Main St., 342-7299
Joe’s Bar: 749 W. Fifth St., 894-3612
LaSalles: 229 Broadway, 893-1891
Madison Bear Garden: 316 W. Second St., 891-1639
The Maltese: 1600 Park Ave., 343-4915
Nick’s Night Club: 1414 Park Ave., 342-5202
Oasis Bar & Grill: 1007 W. First St., 343-4305
Riley’s: 702 W. Fifth St., 343-7459
Towne Lounge: 327 Main St., 896-0235
The University Bar: 191 E. Second St., 898-0630

The great arcade that is the Chico bar scene has more than just booze and music to brighten your evening. Pool is a sure bet almost anywhere; if you look a little deeper, you’ll find air hockey, darts and any other number of activities to keep you busy and entertained on your night out.

With that, we present to you a challenge. The concept is simple: Gather your friends and head out to the bars. But forget any plan to go out and get blasted. Any more than a few beers and you won’t have the stamina (or stability) to complete the challenge, which, if all goes well, will get you in touch with your more playful—and competitive—side.

We’re talking about Bar Olympics. You’ll get to participate in the usual suspects, such as pinball, dice and shuffleboard. But you’ll also have to take on more rigorous challenges. Trike races at Madison Bear Garden—you may have heard of ’em, but do you have the guts? Bull riding at the Crazy Horse Saloon. Got what it takes? Embarrassed to sing in front of strangers? Too bad. Suck it up and bring your “A” game. We did, or at least we tried. Take a look at how we did before you head out to the great arcade on your own:

1. With many childhood years spent on the back of a horse, I may have had a slight advantage riding the bull at the Crazy Horse Saloon. But, hey, I’ll take all the help I can get. The truth is I killed in this category. I’m not going to embarrass my colleagues with a description of their performances (although I’m sure they’ll humiliate me for my losses). Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Something else ugly: the gnarly scab on my elbow after the gentleman operating the bull figured out how good I was and tossed my butt. I’m going to have to say, however, that even worse than slamming onto the padding and skidding on my arm was having to hear this same guy begging for tips before I hopped on the mechanical contraption. Evidently he would’ve been kinder had I ponied up a couple bucks. –M.D.

GAME OVER!<br>Melissa swerves and overcorrects during trike races at The Bear.

Photo By Josh Graham

2. We all had our eye on the prize at the famous trike races at Madison Bear Garden. In this case, the “prize” was chugging a beer after completing the course (the best time actually wins some Bear Bucks).

This one’s as simple as it sounds, but here are a few pointers: Get down to the Bear early (the bar is practically on campus!), sign up, and wait for your name to be called. Once you’re up, you’ll strap a silly helmet to your silly head, and ride an adult-sized tricycle around a “course” as you try to avoid that dude balancing his Jiffy burger and pitcher of Bud. Melissa wasn’t so lucky, you see. She hit that guy, and it cost her—35.16 seconds was her time. Meredith came in a close second with 33.97 seconds, and I took victory lap, beer in hand, with 32.19 seconds. –M.L.

3. What can I say about pool? It’s my sport. My thing. So nothing irks me quite as much as to admit that I lost … to a girl. Actually, I play against some damn fine female players in Chico’s women’s pool league, so it’s not that she was a girl as much as because she’s a rookie. Next time I won’t offer too many pointers, Melissa!

Kidding aside, Melissa did kick both Mark’s and my butts at pool at LaSalles. The tables are decent, though the black felt with Jack Daniels’ emblem on it did prove distracting. So distracting, in fact, that Mark scratched on the 8 ball and I, well, lost. Yeah, I’m gonna blame it on the felt now. –M.J.C.

Later that evening, Meredith goes flying off the bull at the Crazy Horse Saloon.

Photo By Josh Graham

4. I haven’t played shuffleboard in years. Doesn’t mean I didn’t kick Meredith and Melissa’s asses all over that uneven playing surface at Nick’s Night Club. Any bar with a shuffleboard gets bonus points in my book. Plus, Nick’s is a good place to see live music and shoot pool (and smoke in the bar’s handy dandy smoking cage!). Drinks are pretty cheap if you stick to the PBR in a can.

First came Meredith, who put up a good fight, but fell in the end. Melissa? Um … I don’t want to embarrass her in front of you readers. Let’s just say I scored a lot, and she scored a number that rhymes with “un,” or “fun!” BAM!—M.L.

5. I can never decide what’s more entertaining when it comes to karaoke. Hearing someone with an awesome voice belt out an amazing rendition of a great song, or cringing when another brave soul heads up to the mic and butchers the hell out of something. During our singing battle at The Maltese, I guess we fell somewhere in the middle. Mark went for glam-rock stardom singing RATT’s “Round and Round.” Meredith made a smart move picking the Beatles classic “Help!” On a big Billy Joel kick lately (and being addicted to Bosom Buddies reruns when I was a kid), I went with his “My Life.”

After doing a couple of mic twirls and hand gestures, I thought I had this one in the bag. But our judge, Ronnie Soldano, who hosts the Wednesday night singalongs, declared it a draw. Damn. Soldano has more than 2,000 songs to choose from, and he and his lovely wife, Jeanie, entertain the bar now and again with a tune. Believe me, they can sang. –M.D.

TAKIN’ NAMES<br>Mark puts the slapdown on Melissa and Meredith during shuffleboard at Nick’s Night Club.

photo by Meredith J. Cooper

6. I’ve always been a fan of The Oasis (or simply “The O” if those extra two syllables are just too much), despite the fact it’s almost always a bit too toasty in there. The burgers are good, though we should have eaten after competing, and there are games aplenty (seven pool tables, a snooker table, foosball, shuffleboard, ping-pong, dice and arcade games). In this fine establishment, we faced off in a gritty, no-nonsense ping-pong battle.

OK, maybe I’m being a bit overdramatic. I totally smoked Melissa in the first match 11-1. Then came Mark, who appeared to be a worthy opponent. But my table-tennis prowess proved too much to beat, because I took him down 11-3. Ka-pow! –M.J.C.

7. Back when I was a young(er) lass, there was a stretch when I spent a considerable amount of time at The University Bar. No, not for buck night. It was all about the air hockey and I was nearly undefeatable. I even have the battle wounds to prove it: boney scar tissue on the outside of my right wrist from where I banged it into the side of the table. Ouch. (Maybe I should’ve become the foosball champion, or tried my hand at pool.)

Those days are long ago, and the bar has a different table now. Much fancier and wider; slicker pucks and better handles. I wasn’t prepared. Mark and I scored on each other after just a few rallies until the end of our game. Meredith and I each lost to him by a point. Grrrrrr. –M.D.

8. Ah, the Towne Scrounge … I mean Lounge. A dive bar if there ever was one, the TL is one of those places where, if you go there long enough, everybody knows your name. (I was greeted with a hug from the bartender—need I say more?) I usually go to the Towne Lounge to play pool, but on this particular night, it was a battle of darts. And what’s right smack in the front, on the stage even, surrounded by windows looking out on Main Street? The dart board, of course. So everyone walking by could see me whoop Mark’s and Melissa’s butts.

OY, MY EARS!<br>Mark rocks the mic during karaoke at The Maltese.

Photo By Josh Graham

We played a good old-fashioned game of 301. Basically, everyone starts with 301 points and the first to get to zero wins (the catch is, you must get exactly zero). Mark started out strong his first two turns with scores in the 30s. I wasn’t far behind, hitting 29 and 35, followed by 40. A 69 a few turns later nearly sealed the deal, but once we got closer to zero (Melissa had 184 points left when Mark had 18 and I had 9), it was anybody’s game. It took two tries, but luck was on my side and I hit an eight and a one to take home the title of darts champion. –M.J.C.

9. You’re a betch! No, you are! OMG, look at all these hotties! Oh, wait. Sorry. Ten minutes in Riley’s is all it took to convert me to sorority life. I’m back now. So, this bar has its high points: good tunes over the speakers, pool tables, and a statuesque lady bartender who could probably toss any overly rambunctious frat boy out on his tanned ass. And pinball. OK, there’s only one machine, but it’s decent. Plus, I spanked Mark and Meredith. Not literally, sheesh.

Maybe I channeled my many years playing in the Livermore Girls Soccer Club during our match on the World Cup Soccer machine. I’m not much of a pinball enthusiast, but I managed to pull in a score of 346,237,120. That’s right. Take that, Mark (76,568,130) and Meredith (86,483,940). Booyah! –M.D.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

10. Remember: Money should change hands only if you’re going to school in Nevada. Dice can be played anywhere, but we took it up at the popular Joe’s Bar over the even more popular Bloody Joe. There are plenty of different games: “Liars Dice” and “1-4-24,” for example. We went with the latter.

The rules are simple: Each player takes turns rolling six dice, removing one or more per roll. To even qualify, you must roll a “one” and a “four.” From there you want to get the highest total possible with the remaining four dice (that would be 24).

It takes skill and determination. Actually, it’s just luck … and the Irish must’ve been on my side this night as I rolled to victory, and thus taking four of the 10 events. Better luck next time, ladies! –M.L.