There’s an old saying that the only way to make a dollar in the bicycle industry is to spend two. I’m not sure if Clay Mankin, owner of San Francisco’s City Cycle bike shop, ever struck it rich in the bicycle industry but he did know how to make a bicycle shop look and every customer in it feel like a million dollars. On November 13, 2005, Clay suffered a heart attack while riding to his 50th birthday celebration in Santa Barbara along a beautiful stretch of Highway 35 known as Skyline Boulevard.
Clay was an inspiration to me in how he was able to successfully combine work and his true interests in life. Clay loved the details of how a bicycle fits and works with a rider, and was passionate about elevating the bicycle buying experience matching an individual customer to the perfect bicycle. Clay cared about every customer, the sport of cycling, and the San Francisco cycling community as a whole. Clay’s kindness, enthusiasm, and attention to detail showed at every level.
This Friday, a group will meet for Clay’s annual ‘Jimi Hendrix Birthday Ride’, a ride born out of Clay’s sense of humor and love and respect for cultural icons. (For example, the telephone number for the shop is 1-800-88ELVIS.) (Ride details at CityCycle.com.) This time we will ride to honor Jimi and now Clay himself. I can only imagine the large number of cyclists that will attend.
Thank you, Clay, for your kindness, patience, encouragement, and helping others to discover the joys of cycling. For me, the reason for Clay’s circle of friends and success in an otherwise difficult industry is genius in its simplicity. Clay simply “cared”.
An educational fund has been established for Clay’s four-year-old son, Riley. More information is available at CityCycle.com.