Here’s a company that really started from the roots up. They are an inspiration for all of us small businesses. There is so much passion and belief in what they do. It is wonderful to see a successful company that can be environmentally conscious, community oriented, support hundreds of athletes, and provide fantastic incentive programs for their employees (including bike commuting programs and employee stock ownership!!). Hmmm. I wonder if they need me to work for them?
Here’s Clif Bar’s Peter Berridge. Lucky for me he was feeling chatty. He’s got some interesting stories to tell about growing up Marin County.
- Why bikes? What makes you passionate about riding? Clif Bar is a company born on a bike. If you’ve ever read the back of a Clif Bar package, it talks about the epic 175 mile ride Gary was on, and how he just couldn’t stomach another one of the ‘other’ energy bars. It was on that ride when Gary had his epiphany and decided he could make a better energy bar. Gary is still a diehard cyclist, doing epic tours annually. And once a year in September, the whole company comes to California for the Clif Bar Epiphany Ride, celebrating Gary’s epiphany ride. There are rides of all distances, huge meal afterwards, all based out of Gary’s house. Safe to say it is the company’s most beloved tradition.
Personally, I grew up in Marin County during the 70’s and 80’s when mountain biking was just becoming a reality. I lived in Madrone Canyon in Larkspur and used to see long-haired hippies, the infamous Canyon Gang, in jeans wheelying down the street on cruisers after exiting the trails. I watched in awe. And I knew the trails from hiking with my family so the transition to bike seemed natural. My first ‘mountain bike ride’ started by being driven to the top of Mt. Tamalpais by my mom, and riding my BMX bike all the way home solo. I flatted in the first few hundred yards and had to walk all the way home! Not long after, a buddy of mine got one of the OG Stumpjumpers for Christmas, then another friend got a Schwinn High Sierra. Then it was on. Somehow, one of us tapped into a group night ride out of Mill Valley, the infamous Thursday night ride. No joke, on most rides we’d see the likes of Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Steve Potts, Mark Slate, Joe Murray, Charlie Cunningham, Steve Gravenites and countless other legends. Shoot, it was more than that… we’d rub shoulders with them on the ride and share snacks at the rest stop halfway up the mountain. From there, the adults would charge onward to the top and my teenage friends and I would push on through the dark on our own, back around the mountain to the Larkspur side. Those adventures were filled with so many of life’s lessons for us, so much laughter, challenge, fun and camaraderie… they really shaped who we were, and they made us fall in love with mountain biking. Eventually organized races like the Rockhopper in Santa Rosa started happening and then it really became a sport. In college I stopped ski racing and started mountain bike racing, eventually turned pro and was pretty devoted to racing in the 90’s. To top it off and to put an end to this ramble, I ended up at Clif Bar largely through a Clif employee who I met… on a mountain bike ride. He hired me later that year.
- Why have you decided to work with the handmade bicycle manufacturing community? With our connection to food and cooking, coming up with new products and working to make existing products even better, we are involved in a craft of our own. That’s a long way of saying; we appreciate craftsmanship. And with our connection to bikes, this is a unique opportunity to support the heart and soul of the handcraft side of bikes. I’m sure plenty of people at Clif and even Gary himself would really appreciate the works of art at the show.
- What was your first bike? My first bike was a Huffy. First mtb was a Stumpjumper.
- If you could be riding your bike anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? Mtb touring on the Colorado Trail… in the heart of summertime.