Cyclegating: The Biking Alternative to Tailgating

Everyone is a bit of a hypocrite sometimes. Don’t worry, it’s okay to admit it! Nobody is perfect. As long as you at least attempt to change your actions to match your words, society will learn to love you again.

I’m an urbanist–there is no doubting that. I live in a dense neighborhood next to four main transit lines. I judge a city not by its nightlife, underground dance scene or the number of restaurants Guy Fieri has patronized; instead, I judge it based off of how many doors exist on its block. Last year, in order to keep battling hypocrisy (and to save lots of money every month), I made the big “Urbanist leap” and got rid of my car in a still quite car-dependent city, and now instead have car2go, ZipCar, and GoTo Cards in my wallet. The bottom line is…I’m trying to put my money where my urbanity is.

However, my hypocrisy comes roaring back with the force of 50,000 football fans in the autumn, when the massive auto-centric tailgating season starts.

Tailgating: as American as income inequality. (Photo from

Tailgating: as American as income inequality. (Photo from

Tailgating is like the nasty hard drug for football-loving urbanists like myself. We go all year, living our self-proclaimed left-leaning, climate-concerned, health-conscious, automobile-hating lives, and then when that first Saturday morning in early September hits, our principles all go tumbling down the drain. We hop in our friends’ parents’ 2004 Chevy Suburban, drive the four miles to a massively oversized surface parking lot directly adjacent to a temple built to support athletically superior humans, and begin setting up camp. We roll out the portable Weber grill, reach for the beanbag toss boards, throw countless numbers of meat-based items over lit charcoal, crank the volume on Pitbull’s latest generic top 40 hit, fill our cups with orange juice and vodka, and enjoy the company of a thousand like-minded sports fans packed inside a roped-off sea of asphalt. And then, at the end of a 3.5 hour long game, we hop back in our Suburbans and sit in traffic for 45 minutes while traffic control cops frantically attempt to direct traffic flow. For 357 days of the year, this sounds like my worst nightmare. But these other fateful seven tailgating Saturdays are like seven gifts from a fun-spun deity.

This is me, with a wizard hat and Zubaz, standing near an SUV and two trays of bacon, while situated on a surface parking lot. It is actually nega-me.

This is me, with a wizard hat and Zubaz, standing near an SUV and two trays of bacon, while situated on a surface parking lot. It is actually nega-me.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but after decades of establishing this true American tradition, auto-based tailgating has become the status quo. From a historical perspective, it make sense to me. Tailgating reflects American independence idealisms very well. Instead of establishing massive public celebrations before football games, this country has shown time and time again that we would rather hang around our personal automobiles and eat our personal food and drink our personal beverages and hang with our close friends rather than lingering around a random populous.

And after severely overanalyzing the situation, I’ve made my peace with the ridiculousness that comes with tailgating, except for one aspect: the requirement to have an automobile.

The Concept

Automobiles certainly carry large amounts of cargo, which I am assuming is part of the reason why many people like them. They come in handy for football tailgating events, due to their cargo holding capacity. But could there be an alternative? Although R.T. Rybak was definitely onto something with his Railgating experiment back in 2012, I personally believe our best tailgating alternative is biking.

Bicycle Tailgating – or Cyclegating – would take all the best aspects of tailgating and substitute out the necessity for an automobile. The concept is simple, really: bringing festive tailgating things on bikes instead of in vehicles. Currently, I would guess most individuals who arrive to football games via bicycle end up joining a tailgate or just go straight to the game. In my mind, I think, “why can’t bicyclists establish some tailgating fun, too?”

In good bike party fashion, us Cyclegaters could stick together while exercising our personal freedoms to tailgating space. Bicyclists wielding Burleys or cargo bikes can pack food to eat, drinks to consume, games to play, and fan gear to wear in order to show to the world that we are “just like the rest of you tailgaters – except on bikes!”

The Grand Proposal

Sorry, Vikings fans, this native Coloradan isn’t going to be supporting your NFL team for the inaugural Cyclegating event. Instead, I want to put our efforts behind the state’s DI collegiate team: The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

On September 19th, 2015, the Gophers will host the Kent State Golden Flashes at 11:00am at TCF Bank Stadium. The stadium is literally the terminus of one of the best new bike routes in Minneapolis: the Dinkytown Greenway. I envision a portion of the cyclegating group meeting at the other end of the greenway near Gold Medal Park around 8:00am, arriving at the other end of the U’s campus around 8:15am, and then setting up camp in the open area between the University’s traditional tailgating lots located here:

The red rectangle will be the site of the biggest tailgating revolution since the Eisenhower administration.

The red rectangle will be the site of the biggest tailgating revolution since the Eisenhower administration.

The cyclegaters will enjoy each others company, receive some well-deserved “that’s pretty neat” comments from onlookers, and head into the stadium a little before 11:00am for kickoff. After the game, we can come back to our bike posse and keep the party going in the beautiful September afternoon air.

The Planning

This is my vision – and the game is only 2 months away! If you would like to help plan this event, or would like to be a part of it, or just want to send some kudos and words of support (or hatred, whatever), please contact me ( I am in progress of organizing the masses, and we will hopefully be allowed to put on this great event in the best way possible.


Chris Iverson

About Chris Iverson

Chris Iverson is a transportation engineer & planner for the City of Bellevue, WA and currently lives in Seattle. He holds degrees in both Civil Engineering & Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota, and worked on a myriad of transit & multimodal transportation projects in the Twin Cities. He is a former Minnesota Daily columnist, RAGBRAI participant, bad musician, marathon finisher, and an unabashed generalist.