Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sustainable Tailgating :: Trial Run

Blake Sanders, fellow upstate bicyclist and advocate, wrote this post about his experience with sustainable tailgating at a Clemson University football game during the 2011 season. Enjoy!

It's a beautiful day in Death Valley; 80,000 screaming fans, the Tiger Rag, and the Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football. It's easy to be excited for Gameday Saturdays but in my case, it's also includes the most dreaded 60+ minutes of my week, traffic and walking. Now don't get me wrong, walking is great, but not lugging a 3-year old, albeit he is as small as me.

Go back 18 months...

I'm hosting a charrette with Clemson University Design Inquiry Students, developing an idea that will be presented to the Student Body Government in hopes of securing funding. With over 30 students/professors in attendance, we knew we would develop an incredible solution to a space on campus. Previous groups have designed memorials and gardens, placed benches, and even honored past faculty. Our group decided against redeveloping a space but rather developing a campus green in an already overused area that has received zero attention since Thomas Green drank from the Seneca River. Our design space, Highway 93, directly across from the Esso Club. An overused space during game day (primarily parking) and vastly underused during the school year, even though it is a gateway from the west.

Two hours later, our group had developed potentially a ground breaking idea that would be like non-other at Clemson, the Green Tiger Trail (A Sustainable Tailgating Experience).

Fastfoward to present time...

Luckily we have an opportunity to go to the Clemson vs. Wofford football game and my wife and I have decided we'll finally take our son, Lane, to his first game. Of course we want him to experience the pre-game festivities, but of course, without a parking pass this becomes sort of an issue. Packing the pull-ups, change of clothes, Chick-fil-A, drinks, etc. it all hits me. I recall our design charrette, talks with Dan Harding, Clemson architecture professor, and Clemson's Bicycle Planner, Tanya DeOliveria. I do it. We load up the bikes and head for "The Valley."

We park on the outskirts of Campus, Highway 93 and Highway 76 to be exact, put on our packs and head to find our tailgating spot. We pass well over 200 people walking and dragging coolers down a road closed to vehicles during our 4 minute bike ride (versus our 25 minute walk). We stop at the Lee Hall Courtyard (covered bicycle parking) and set up camp. We eat, relax in the air conditioned gallery space, take a gallery tour, and play football. 30 minutes before game time we take our final walk to the stadium (a 5 minute walk=9 minutes total commute time).

Wonderful game experience as Lane loved watching the game and the band. Tigers win in somewhat of a nail biter and we head out. A 5 minute walk to our bikes, and a 10 minute bike ride back to the car (uphill coming back).

Things for the University to consider as Sustainable Tailgating becomes closer to a reality:

  • The need for bicycle parking next to the stadium.
  • Bus/Bike transit back to the car (I must admit I didn't feel like riding after baking in the sun for 3 hours).
  • Specific tailgating spots for bike commuters.
I must thank Tanya for convincing me to write about this experience and the many others that I hope to encounter. Consider checking out an article in the Anderson Independent Mail regarding Sustainable Tailgating.


  1. Great story! Thank you, Blake, for sharing, and Tanya for doing the "convincing."

    When I attend tailgates (or do anything on game day) it's always by bike. I'm delighted to see other's taking hold of this idea. Although I can understand why it's not an obvious option. Where do you put the cooler? The food? The kids?

    These actually are rather small obstacles, and I think the promotion of Sustainable Tailgating (especially use of that incredible tailgating trailer!) along with bike education and safety will get demonstrate that they are easily overcome.