In road races like the Colorado Classic, riders in the main pack are typically separated by mere inches. In Glory Gears, they’re separated by even less, because when you’re racing on a three-inch-wide track—like the one in this cycling strategy board game—a few millimeters may be all you can get.
The object of Glory Gears, created by Alex Bishop, 32, a Wheat Ridge resident and amateur cyclist, is simple: Get your relay team of four riders—who appear as cards on plastic stands—across the finish line first. Along the way, as many as eight players pick up “pedal cards” that dictate the number of spots each racer can move around the 29-space oval (or 31, if you get pushed to the outside lane).
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The fast-paced game is based on the Little 500—the annual 50-mile cinder-track relay race held at Indiana University and memorialized in the 1979 Oscar-winning film Breaking Away. Bishop won the race as part of the 2007 Cutters team—the same one, in name, anyway, that (spoiler alert) emerges victorious in the movie. After his win, Bishop wanted to build a game that translated his experience into an activity even noncyclists could enjoy, especially as he watched young gamers retreat into the digital world. “With board games, there’s no hiding,” Bishop says. “You have to talk to each other, look at each other, and be present in the moment. You don’t get that from your phone.”
Bishop sat on the concept for nearly nine years, but this past November, when a new owner bought Big Ring Cycles—where Bishop had spent seven years as a manager—he quit and founded his game design company, Mind Melt Games. Five months later, the first edition of Glory Gears hit the shelves. To date, Bishop has sold around 850 games (at $50 a pop), and this month he’s hoping to reach his widest audience yet through a 25-day Glory Gears tournament that kicks off on November 1. Qualifying rounds will take place in local bike shops throughout metro Denver, such as the Denver Bicycle Cafe and Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and participants will take home goodie bags containing gift cards and coupons for local cycling shops and gyms. Winners of each qualifier will advance to the state championship on December 6 at Blake Street Tavern. And the grand prize? A $9,000 Colnago road bike. With that type of swag on the line, the racing just might get as rough on the board as it does on the road.
If You Go: Glory Gears State Championship
Date: December 6
Location: Blake Street Tavern