- Jun. 3, 2009
- CLIF 4 EVER and the Story of Clif Bar’s Annual Epiphany Ride
In 1990, my friend Jay called me to see if I would be up for a 125-mile ride in the San Francisco Bay Area. He thought it would be a great adventure and calculated that we’d cover about 125 miles. We each packed six energy bars (the only bars on the market at the time), a banana, and some sport drinks. We left at dawn, cruised up Livermore Valley through Patterson Pass, then nearly 30 miles along the California Aqueduct, then west on a picturesque road named Del Puerto Canyon. As we reached the top of Mount Hamilton we realized that we’d already ridden 120 miles and still had a third of the way to go! Clearly our ride would be much longer than 125 miles, mostly likely in the 170 mile range. I had eaten five of the six energy bars that I brought with me. Exhausted and famished, I needed to eat the last energy bar but I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to eat something that was delicious and nutritious, and that would give me the energy I needed to finish the ride. In that moment, I realized “I can make something better than this” and the idea for CLIF® BAR was born.
I now refer to that ride as the Epiphany Ride. If I didn’t ride that day … if I didn’t ride that distance … and if I didn’t eat all those bars, Clif Bar & Company wouldn’t exist today. In 2000, ten years after that 175-mile ride with Jay, I stood in front of Clif Bar & Company’s employees and shared with them the story of the original Epiphany Ride—the journey that started it all. Some had heard part of the story before, but for most it was new. To celebrate the birth of the idea and what that idea has become, I invited the company to join me on a cycling adventure … and so began the Annual Epiphany Ride.
That first year we rode the original route. A challenge and a celebration, the Ride brought the company together and became a rallying point for employees. Not everyone could ride all 175 miles so we added 100- and 35-mile options. Many people trained for months leading up to the event including some that had never ridden a bike in their lives. In the end, 12 people completed the 175-mile ride, two joined us for the 100-miles option and 50+ riders met us for the last 35 miles.
As the sun began to set, Kit and I were among the last to finish the ride but as we crossed the finish line we were greeted by cheers including those of my parents, Cliff and Mary, who were proudly holding their homemade “CLIF 4 EVER” sign.
The Annual Epiphany Ride tradition continues. In additional to being a celebration of an idea and the opportunity to come together to embrace new challenges, the Annual Epiphany Ride will now serve as an opportunity for me to remember my father—the man who encouraged me to follow my own path and cheered me over countless finish lines.
Gary, Founder and Co-Owner of Clif Bar & Company
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