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Alumnus of Little 500 creates board game inspired by race

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, April 20, 2017 05:02 am

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A decade after winning the Little 500 men's bicycle race, Alex Bishop is realizing another dream.

The Indiana University alumnus is in Bloomington this week delivering his new board game Glory Gears to retailers. Bishop's experience racing for the Cutters team inspired the theme, but the desire to create his own board game goes back to his childhood in northwestern Indiana.

"The thing is, I've been doing this ever since I was a little kid," he said.

Growing up in Wheatfield, about 30 minutes south of Valparaiso, Bishop and his friends would modify the rules of board games to make them more fun.

By high school, much of his free time was spent playing sports, but that became increasingly difficult because of severe knee pain. A specialist diagnosed him as having abnormally short tendons, and suggested two sports that wouldn't cause so much pain: swimming and cycling. Bishop hated swimming, so he hopped on a bike.

At IU, he joined the Cutters, leading the team to its eighth Little 500 championship as a junior in 2007.

"Obviously, this was a very big milestone, a very memorable part of my life," he said. "You train so hard for it, -it's something I'll always remember."

After graduating from IU with a bachelor of science in kinesiology, Bishop spent about eight years managing Big Ring Cycles, a high-end bicycle shop in Golden, Colorado. All the while, though, he kept thinking about combining his love of cycling with his childhood hobby. Finally, he took the plunge, quitting his job to create Mind Melt Games.

He created dozens of prototypes before settling on a game in which player movement is dictated by cards. Each card allows a player to move between four and eight spaces, but bigger moves affect stamina, limiting the number of spaces the player can move on his or her next turn.

There are also two different types of movement. When a player throws down a pace card, he or she sets the pace and everyone else follows behind. If a player throws a pack card, their opponents stay put.

"Like in a real bike race, you can work with other people to help you out," Bishop said. "When it gets close at the end of a race, you never know when someone is not going to work with you."

Money raised on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, combined with his own savings, allowed Bishop to have 2,500 copies of the game made through a manufacturing company in China. Glory Gears can be purchased online at mindmeltgames.com and at local retailers, such as T.I.S. College Bookstore, The Common Room Games and Salt Creek Cycles. On Monday, Bishop said he was planning to drop off sets at Greetings and the Toy Chest this week. The women's race of the Little 500 is Friday afternoon, and the men's race is Saturday afternoon.

While Glory Gears is inspired by the Little 500 race, Bishop said he's got about a dozen other ideas in the works, such as a game where everyone plays the role of a sports agent, as well as some simple card games.

Bishop acknowledged these types of games might be seen as relics of the past, but he sees that as part of their appeal.

"I want to help people come together again and be more social," he said. "To sit down in the same room, get away from screens and phones and computers, and interact like real human beings again."

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Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, http://bit.ly/2oMaYN4

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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