When it comes to cycling, the opportunity for some interesting cross-promotion is abundant. We've had our share of video games, toys and for a while the big-box stores were using screen captures of downhill racing to simulate television screens in their weekly circulars. Naturally when we heard the sport was the subject of a new board game, we were curious. After all, weekends spent camping with family & friends at the bike trails are conducive to nightly camp fires and board games once the sun dips below the horizon. Could Schwinn the Biking Game be what your next camping excursion is missing? We brought a copy of the game along on our most recent trip to find out.
The Cold Hard Facts
Schwinn The Biking Game is recommended for players ages 4 and up, can be played with anywhere from 2-8 participants and game sessions typically last between 20 – 30 minutes.
Included inside the box are a single foldout game board, 199 cards (containing 400 questions & 99 bike facts), 1 decoder piece, 8 bicycle pawns, 1 die, 16 level cards and an off-road card.
The game retails for $2 5and more info can be found at www.EducationOutdoors.net
The board itself starts and concludes in a parking lot but concerns about this being an all-roadie affair are needless as a majority of the "path" traverses creeks, forests and mountains.
The game, a race to be the first back to the trailhead, begins with the roll of the die after each player selects a bike pawn. The pawns depict classic and contemporary Schwinn bike models ranging from the classic "Grey Ghost" Stingray to (our favorite) the modern dual suspension mountain bike. Players advance their pieces along the markers on the board based on rolls of the die. Should a player land on a red trail circle, his turn ends for that round. If his bike lands on a Schwinn Bike Shop square, the player immediately moves his piece to the bike shop and reads a Fun Fact card aloud to the group (these range in content from the early development of the bicycle to cycling statistics, health benefits and so on). If the player comes to a stop on a yellow trail circle, he must answer one of the Biking Game questions to advance.
Essentially the game becomes a bicycle-specific trivia session at this point but here's where things get a bit interesting. Each Biking Game question card features four questions of varying levels of difficulty. Younger players would likely be most comfortable with Level 1 questions, while adults and cycling aficionados would likely want to stick to the Level 3 & 4 questions. Questions range from identifying parts of a bike, to bicycling history and true/false statements. Nailing your question earns another roll of the die. Fears of this being simply a bike-themed Trivial Pursuit are also in vain as the game also boasts question cards that require a player to share a story about a bicycling experience. Here's where things get really fun (and sometimes silly) as the stories tend to center on the funny. Editor's note: We must have explored a dozen epic crash stories this way, each funnier than the last.
Not a Sanctioned Event
Here's the good news if your trivia skills are lacking (or you've just had an unfortunate succession of rolls); the board's got a shortcut on the biking trail near the end of the game, but since the path diverges into some rough terrain, it can only be entered if the player is holding a card with a picture of the mountain bike tires. How does one get the way-cool off-road card you wonder? You get a chance if the off-road card is drawn when it's your turn to answer a trivia question (yes, you have to get the answer right to keep the card). But since only one player can possess an off-road card at a time, the first player to reach the shortcut through the woods with the card in his hand is the only player who can take the shortcut to the finish spot.
We really have to credit the game's designer Tim Paczesny with pulling off what was surely no easy feat: Making bicycling trivia fun for the whole family. Even cycling know-it-alls (ah-hem our editors) managed to discover some new facts (did you know that 3.2 million Americans bike to work each week?) while becoming humbled by what they did not know (What was the name of the earliest prototype bicycle made in 1790?).. But perhaps the coolest feature of all comes in the form of the opportunities to get players spinning cycling yarns about their past. Schwinn's The Biking Game is money well-spent and makes for a great addition to any game-night, bike trip related or otherwise.