It’s been a while since I last blogged about riding/racing or just general exciting events, so I better give a quick update on how the season is going so far.
Now that I have graduated and have a full-time job at Studios Architecture in San Fran, riding my bike has become my post-work nightcap. Charging the headlights and heading out in the dark became the norm through the winter months and even though it’s sometimes hard to get motivated after a full day in the office, I still managed to get some solid time on my mountain bike. My focus has changed a little bit since last year due to my work schedule and San Francisco living. Last season I spent quite a bit of time on my road bike, with long hours staring at my heart rate monitor. This season I have spent all of my training time on my mountain bike, with no heart rate monitor to suck the fun away. Pedaling over the golden gate and up into Marin headlands has become my usual training routine, where I can explore new trails and change up the route pretty easily. And now that it’s staying lighter later, my motivation for riding after work has gone up significantly. As for racing this season, it’s been going pretty well with a podium or win at every race I’ve entered (except for Sea Otter of course). Races I have done so far are the TBF Race (1st place), a CCCX (3rd), The Big Sandy (2nd), Napa Valley Dirt Classic (3rd), Sea Otter Classic (52), and the Lumerian Classic (2nd). I plan to start ramping up training even more in preparation for the upcoming races. Downieville All Mountain is in the forecast. See my next posts for photos!

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So last weekend was my “sister in laws” birthday weekend and I had to party hardy Friday night in preparation for my first race of the season on Sunday 2/2/14. So I did. Saturday I spent re-hydrating, because I ended up needing it after too much fun if you know what I mean.
Since I was already in Sacramento for the weekend celebrating, my teammate Clint Claassen said I should race the TBF Mountain Bike Classic in Granite Bay, conveniently just 30 minutes from where we were visiting. I decided it would be a great first race of the season to spin the legs and flog myself in preparation for races to come. I’d never been to this venue before, and I was a little unsure what to expect. One thing I do know is they have a sweet new timing system provided by TimeYourRace, and that the race series is pretty well known.
As my Fiancé and I pulled into the parking lot I realized it was a much bigger venue than I was anticipating. There was even a news crew, who was interviewing Clint as we pulled up! Cool!
I unloaded my Santa Cruz Highball from the car and began my usual routine of getting ready, stuffing a couple Clifbar Shots into my leg of my bib shorts and debating whether to wear arm warmers or not. It was pretty dang chilly! I walked over to registration and was provided with a swag bag filled with some goodies and a sweet TBF beanie! BUT my race number was an evil one, 333. My lady has a weird suspicion about the number 3, let alone 333 but I tried to not let it bother me. The guy at registration told me “think of it as a lucky one”. So I turned the paranoia around and thought of it in a positive light. But was I ready to throw down today against the other fast dudes? Jared Kessler, Alex Wild, Clint CLaassen, Andrew Taylor and a really fast 16 year old named Tofor Lewis.
Alex and I ended up pre-riding the course together and I soon realized how awesome the terrain around here really is. As a first timer to the Granite Bay single track, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but there was a lot of goodness! Fast flow-able corners with natural berms and many rocky sections thrown in the mix made riding there a blast! There are even some boulder rock faces that you had to ascend up and over! I loved it, and the sandy soil was so tacky and ready to shred! We were having so much fun; I was almost late to the starting line! I came around from the front and nabbed a spot right on the line, one minute to spare!! And we were off!!
The pace started out really quick with Alex Wild leading the chase. He actually raced and won the CCCX event the day before, so I thought he may be hungry for another win, but he ended being a rabbit for only a few minutes, and then took it easy from there. A few minutes in I was sprinting for the lead, but Kessler nabbed me on the first single-track. I knew this would be a battle because he and I have raced each other before. I tried my best to hold his wheel and it worked. Left, right, left, right, bunny hop, two wheel drift! I was having a blast!

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There were four of us trading off places for about half the race. Kessler, Tofor, Taylor and I were neck and neck, all trying to hold on the best we could. I was trying to think tactics. When and how could I get away, but was beginning to wonder if the race would end on a sprint finish. Luckily that wasn’t the case! About half the way through we began passing lapped traffic, so at the first sign of weakness I made my move. Our 4 man train got held up for a split second too long which allowed me to pass Andrew Taylor to break away and gain the lead. Letting riders know (nicely) that you are coming Waaaaay beforehand is very important! All the racers were very courteous and respectful of the faster guys by pulling over swiftly, so thank you for that! Tofor Lewis was not far behind and I think was closing the gap between us. Coming around a corner I heard a loud pssssst and saw him pulling quickly to the side of the trail. He ended up with a broken spoke and flat tire. Too bad because he would have given me a run for my money, that’s for sure!
My lead ended up holding for the rest of the race! Blowing my fiancé a kiss during the last straightaway, I placed 1st with a gap of about 1 minute 15 seconds! Great job to Jared Kessler and Andrew Taylor for pulling office 2nd and 3rd! What a perfect was to start the season!! And thank you TBF racing and TimeYourRace for putting on an awesome event!

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Hopefully I can come to the next two races you are throwing and defend! Riding buddies, get out there! (http://www.totalbodyfitness.com/race/events/mountain-bike) What a great start to the season!!

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I wanted to share a few photos from my Christmas “vacation”. I took a few days off work to hang with my family in the Napa Valley and get a few good rides in while enjoying the amazing weather. My first adventure was a group ride with my buddies. We hit the trails in Fairfax on the winter solstice, and we actually rode a trail called Solstice, so that was cool! My buddy Josh snapped a couple sweet photos (the one by the water tower and the group photo). Thanks dude! The other photos were taken on two other solo rides I did in Saint Helena. The wine stave wooden feature is pretty sick, it was spotted on my ride in Angwin (where the Napa Valley Dirt Classic & Howell Mountain Challenge races are held) Of course you would see this in wine country! The others were on my epic 42 mile 6.5k elevation day from Saint Helena to Calistoga along the mountain ridge. My Tallboy LTc is the perfect machine for the gnarly rocks on the Oat Hill Mine trail up on the Palisades of Calistoga. The rock formations are pretty spectacular, and the trials put hair on your chest. If you’ve never ridden there, check it out!

I am so happy to be healthy, have a great family, awesome friends, and amazing bikes / trails to ride. Happy new year, bring on 2014!

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Roll out the red carpet, the holidays are here and my teammates and I were lucky enough to get invited to Santa Cruz Bicycles “Syndicate Shindig”. For those who don’t know, the Syndicate is Santa Cruz Bicycles factory racing world champion downhill team, thanks to the incredible talent of Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat, and Josh Bryceland who make up the most successful downhill racing team in bicycle history. With 4 world championship wins! So the party was a hit, with all you could drink champaign and beer and a plethora of amazing food. One of my favorites being the rack of lamb! This party celebrated a few different things. The new headquarters for Santa Cruz bicycles, the premier of Steve Peats movie “Won’t Back Down”, the unavailing of Greg Minnaar’s signature downhill bike (pretty sick I must say), and of course Christmas! Thanks again to Santa Cruz bicycles and my Santa Cruz/Fox racing team for inviting me to such an awesome party! I can’t wait for what the 2014 season has in store!

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Yesterday I did the biggest most insane ride ever with friends Menso and Brendan, I thought I’d tell you guys how sick it was! It ended up being 75 miles, about 11k feet of climbing and mostly all singletrack! It was so awesome! Menso Stashed a beer cooler at about mile 45 (6 hours into our ride), and that saved the three of us. I think we all Bonked a couple times, but just kept riding. 8hrs of moving time and 9.5 hrs total! Man, that was the hardest ride I have ever done, but the singletrack was amazing! I’ll be recovering the rest of this week, that’s for sure.

See the mountain ridge in the distance? That’s the next peak where we were heading. When I took this picture we were about 4 hrs in, and had already climbed a mountain like that one.

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This was our resting stop where we crammed our faces with ride food. Luckily I also brought along a potato egg burrito. Tasty. Menso Has his face stuffed with Clif Bars as you can see. Literally.

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After about 7 hrs of riding, your technical ability starts to slack off. We came around the bend of the trail and found Menso “resting” for a bit. Luckily it was soft sand he landed on! Thumbs up!

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Thanks guys for an awesome day, and perfect trail knowledge. Brendan, thanks for sharing the secret trails.

The Santa Cruz Super Enduro proved to be an awesome day, with some extremely fast competition, lots of socializing, and sweeeet trails! I managed to pull off two clean runs, but… of course I crashed at the bottom of sawpit which probably cost me 15-20 seconds. I ended up 19th out of about 35 pros, so I guess that’s not too shabby, especially since I have only ridden each of those trails 3-4 times. Course knowledge is definitely key there because the trails are technical with multiple lines, some of which are slower, some faster. I felt really solid riding my new Tallboy LTc. It is seriously an amazing and capable bike, and I haven’t been able to push it to its limits yet. The 140mm of Fox suspension makes trail chatter, rocks and drops feel like child’s play. After the racing was over Marshall, Clint and my buddy Jeremy went out for one last bonus loop on Sawpit where I got redemption over my crash earlier in the day. Once we got back to the festivities, we cracked open a couple beers and continued to enjoy the Enduro lifestyle. I dig it!

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Post race, we were ready to keep riding!

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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!