What's Cool In Road Cycling

Clay Mankin: Thank You

I was sitting in the local bike shop speaking with Ben Serotta who happened to be doing a meet and greet when I found out that Clay Mankin had passed away. A loss to cycling really isn’t the case. Clay was a net gain for the sport and the lifestyle.

You can’t be a big fan of cycling without having already read in several on line publications about who Clay was [the founder of City Cycle in San Francisco. – ed] What you can get a feel for by reading a bit more might be more along the lines of how Clay was…

For starters, running a successful bike shop these days ranks, odds wise, along side being able to hit a humming bird with a bb gun from 50 yards away. Running a successful bike shop with the real estate outlay that comes with doing so in a city like San Francisco means the humming bird is now 100 yards away, it’s midnight and there’s a hurricane blowing in…

Clay (center) riding over Pine Mountain in Marin with Lori Hoefer
formerly of Serotta and Clay’s buddy Mark.

Clay Mankin was a guy that could talk to anyone about anything and do so in a way that, even when he disagreed with you, you probably liked his argument, or could at least smile at the presentation.

Clay would sell you a bike, but the value in knowing Clay never cost you a dime. He could speak to anyone that walked through the door on their terms. That’s no small deal when you consider that SF, as much (or more so) than any other place in North America, has more than it’s share of personality types. Clay understood that the riding, and having that add something to the other important things in life was far more important than any bike.

Clay was active in the industry far beyond his back yard. People run their businesses better because of Clay. Some folks build a better bike because of Clay. A lot of people smiled because of Clay. I for one cringed and vomited because of Clay (thanks buddy, for a route through SF that took in every stinking steep hill on the peninsula…). And, as people frequently say in times like these, the list goes on.

Shops and principals come and go like the wind in cycling. With that in mind, you might think back to the last time you saw mention of “someone from a bike shop” passing away posted at places like VeloNews or here. Not that everyone passing isn’t a bad thing or that everyone isn’t special, but few are so much so that it’s not just worthy of mention, but compelling.

Clay leaves behind his wife, Allison and a son Riley, as well as what should be considered a very large family at City. City have created a college fund for Riley and donations can be made to:

Riley Mankin Educational Fund
c/o City Cycle San Francisco
3001 Steiner Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Alison and her extended City Cycle family ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to San Francisco Bike Coalition www.sfbike.org and www.MoveOn.org, two organizations Clay had great admiration for.

Aside This is the second great person that I have lost this year to natural causes on a bike. Both Clay and another friend were very good riders. They appeared fit and healthy, were active on and off the bike and always had something going that was important to them because it was even more important to others. They were both what most would consider middle aged and both passed away doing what they loved.

With that in mind, I would take the opportunity again to ask you, no matter what your age or how healthy you think you are, to go see your doctor. Drop off a little blood, say ah, breath in and out and turn your head and cough… It’s a pain in the ass for sure, but every one of you is someone’s Clay Mankin.

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