Long a fixture in taverns, frat houses and company break rooms, foosball is like a "high-speed chess game," according to tournament organizer Steve Hultman. To play, four players use sliding, rotating metal bars to hit a small ball into "goals" at each end of a foosball table. Simple, if you're quick and precise. There's nothing more satisfying than the whap of a foosgoal. About 30 of the top 100 foosball players in the world live right here in Houston, where foosball has a real following. Hultman holds tournaments most days, and at least 15 teams usually show up to play. "I can fill up a bar," says Hultman. An aficionado since childhood, he bought his first table from a local pub. "It changed my life," he says. Since then, he's taught the game to dozens, creating a base of good players. Asked if foosball fans get better with beer, he says, "Yeah -- or at least they have more fun."
The Draw-Your-Partner tournaments (you get teamed with a name picked from a hat) begin at 9 p.m. Mondays and Fridays at Acadia (3939 FM 1960 West), Wednesdays and Sundays at Rowdy's (900 FM 1960 West), and Thursdays at 3 Cheers (2470 FM 1960 West). For more information, call 281-536-2989 or visit www.foosball.ws. $5 entry fee. -- Eric Norvell
This football state also loves cycling. Lots of Hill Country roads have sprung bike lanes, and, of course, Austinite Lance Armstrong has won four Tours de France. Not everyone is like Lance, though, and the Houston Bicycle Club knows that. It offers everything from "easy rides" for novices to treks with the Dirty Dozen, a group that takes 100-mile rides "to stay in shape," according to club president Steve Sutherlin. Though all its members love cycling, the club is more about "camaraderie and friendship," says Sutherlin. Saturday, July 12, take part in an 8 a.m. orientation ride for newbies at the Fulshear City Hall, 30603 FM 1093. And for the seasoned pros among you: Yes, the Dirty Dozen are planning a "century" ride from Sealy to Rock Island. For information, call 281-496-1519 or visit www.hbc.stevens.com. Club membership is $20 per person, or $25 per family. -- Eric Norvell