I’m totally new to the road bike scene, and I was honored to get invited by Levi Leipheimer to his Levi GranFondo! This event is awesome, and raises a TON of money for charity, along with allowing thousands of people to enjoy the amazing scenery of Santa Rosa and the coast. How could I pass up a VIP invite where I’d be able to start in the front pack? He mentioned “there will be some fast guys there, so it will be a good workout for you”… And he was right. My good friends Menso, and Colin were both invited as well so we decided to ride together throughout the event (or as long as I could hang on). A bunch of mountain bikers were there as well, so I didn’t feel too out of place. Forrest Arakawa and Marshall Eames were in the mix, sporting their bright pink Capo gear. SICK!  At the start line, the announcer called us all up by name! When it was my turn, they said something like, “and last years winner of the expert Downieville All Mountain…Ryan Chandler!!” That was so cool to be called up like that, as I never expected anything like that, let alone to be invited to the event! Menso, Colin and I were stoked!! So the 7500 person train started moving, and we all maintained our positions near the front. The pace started picking up about 15 miles in, and once we hit the first climb, everyone started hammering! We stayed with the chase group the entire time, and gave it our all up King Ridge, the group was really thinning out at this point. Once we neared the top, there were about 8 guys in the chase group, and we were all ready for a break at the rest stop on top of King Ridge. From here on we Fondo’d the ride and got to socialize while eating some really good food at the other stops. Sandwiches at mile 60…yum! Bonking at about mile 70, I couldn’t quite hang on with Menso and Colin any longer. They rode ahead and I ended up meeting a dude from Australia and we traded off pulling for the rest of the ride. We had a fun time hammering to the finish. Man I was beat!! After the ride I got to enjoy the VIP tent and all the amazing food that was provided for us, along with some really great beer!! Thanks again Levi for the invite, that was a great day on two wheels, and I am so lucky to have experienced it!! You are awesome for how much you give back to the community…we need more people like that!