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Cheaha Challenge Grand Fondo Announces New Routes and New Host for 22nd Annual Bicycle Ride in Alabama

The Southern Bicycle League (SBL) and the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) have partnered to produce the 2014 Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo, sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors. Known as “The Toughest Ride in the South,” the 22nd Annual Cheaha Challenge, Sunday, April 6, is the largest bicycle century ride in Alabama, with five cycling routes offered, ranging from 23, 44, 62, 84, to 104 miles.

This year, Jacksonville, Ala. and Jacksonville State University will host a new start/finish for the event on the university campus. Named after the scenic Cheaha State Park, the three longest cycling routes will roll north and traverse through the park. Tony Myers, Cheaha Challenge Ride Director, is pleased to have the ride hosted by the “friendliest campus in the South.”

“Along with the new start and finish line in Jacksonville, Alabama, we are pleased to offer new scenery, fantastic facilities for adequate parking and post-ride showers, and expanded lodging options. We will be able to accommodate more riders and offer more conveniences for our out-of-town visitors.” said Myers, who is coordinating all the new logistics for this year’s events with Mark Jones, Director of Recreational Sports at Jacksonville State University. (photo: Myers, in black jacket, confirms plans for Cheaha Challenge with Jones)

The ride is scheduled to begin April 6 at the Pete Mathews Coliseum with a mass start for all cyclists at 7:30 a.m. Until March 31, registration will be $45 per person for SBL members and $55 for non-SBL members. From April 1 to April 6, registration will increase by $5 per rider. Online registration is available at the event website – cheahachallenge.com/century_ride_details.html. Included in the registration fee are a light breakfast before the ride, fully-equipped rest stops, deluxe post-ride meal, and 100% cotton, commemorative t-shirt.

All riders will be provided timing chips this year.  The times will be posted on the event website. There will be an exclusive time recorded for riders on the famous three-mile climb at Cheaha State Park, with special jerseys awarded to the fastest male and female cyclist. The man and woman with the fastest times on the climb will be designated King of the Mountain and Queen of the Mountain.

Myers expects 700-1,000 cyclists from more than 25 states to participate in the Grand Fondo.  “The Cheaha Challenge is for everyone,” Myers added. “With the different route options, people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy a memorable day of cycling.”

Route maps will be posted later this month on the web site.  The event is known as an “out and back” ride, meaning the route will be identical both ways. With the new start/finish in Jacksonville, one new climb over Whites Gap has been added to the beginning and end of the ride.

Visit www.cheahachallenge.com to learn more about how you can enjoy the excitement and spirit that comes with the toughest ride in the South. For more information about the city of Jacksonville and Jacksonville State University visit www.jacksonville-al.org and www.jsu.edu.

About SBL

Through fun, fitness and friendship, the Southern Bicycle League’s mission is to link the bicycle community together and inspire more people to ride bicycles more often. The purpose of our mission is to facilitate the building of bicycle friendly communities and greater health and fitness through bicycling. We achieve our goals and objectives with our members, our SBL Chapters, SBL Affiliations, bikeSBL.org website, SBL E-Newsletter, Southern Bicycle League Magazine, SBL Ride Calendar and many fun events, including the Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo, Wilson 100 and the Covington Century Ride.

About NEABA

The Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) exists to promote safe road and mountain biking. We strive to promote the healthy benefits of cycling by planning and sponsoring quality cycling-related events, and by encouraging both recreational cycling and cycling as a viable means of transportation. Events include Cheaha Century Gran FondoSunny King CriteriumNoble Street Festival, and Foothills Road Race. Visit the web site for more information, www.neaba.net.