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All Sunshine and Blue Skies for Lucky Cheaha Challenge Participants

Over 1,200 cyclists and their families took part in the Cheaha Challenge in Alabama last weekend, with many qualifying for the UCI World and USA National Gran Fondo Championships

Over 1,200 cyclists and their families took part in the Cheaha Challenge in Alabama

Photo credit: Tracey White

Last weekend saw the running of the 29th Annual "Toughest ride in the South," in Jacksonville, Alabama. Since 1992, the annual cycling event has challenged riders over Mount Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama.

Organized by the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA), it’s a huge event for the City of Jacksonville and fully supported by Jacksonville State University with many prominent sponsors!

The ride has consistently been ranked as one of the top Gran Fondo's in the USA by Gran Fondo Guide.

2022 Cheaha Challenge UCI World Time Trial Championship Results

Organizers of the Cheaha Challenge were running the qualifier, and cyclists were being called up for top placements in various divisions of gender and age. Most any audience will offer applause, but every time a name was called the cyclists cheered like their own kids were winning trophies.

It was a time trial specialist’s opportunity to qualify for the 2022 UCI Time Trial World Championships, taking place in Trento, Italy from September 15th to 18th 2022.

The course was 12.5 miles from the Eubanks Welcome Center, Piedmont, AL along the flat and fast Chief Ladiga Trail, a paved rails-to-trail, from Piedmont to Jacksonville. Riders came from all over North America and internationally to take part.

First female over all age categories was Stephanie Poole (F40-44) from Mississippi in a time of 28m10 and an average speed of 26.6 miles/h to beat Melissa Lee by almost 2 minutes to win her F35-39 age category. Katie Pothier (F40-44) got overall third.

Brock Mason from Georgia renewed his win in the time trial in 24m18 (13 seconds faster than last year) and an average speed of 30.8 miles/h. The overall second and third were Andrew Knight and John Hart, both from the strong M45-49 age group. They lost 43 seconds and 1m16 to Mason.

It was a time trial specialist’s opportunity to qualify for the 2022 UCI Time Trial World Championships

Photo credit: Tracey White

The following top 3 in each age category qualified, please note the top 25% of each age category will be also be awarded with qualification and guaranteed entry:

Male Under 19
Owen Schnakenberg, Alpharetta
Julien Ruhe, Atlanta
Kane Hendrickson, Anniston

Female U19
Greetja Nestler, Signal Mtn
Sarah McCallister, Birmingham
Anna Harris, Jacksonville

Male 19-34
Brock Mason, Atlanta
Jack White, Madison
Thomas Freckmann, Woodstock

Female 35-39
Melissa Lee,Yukon

Male 35-39
Richie Slagle, Germantown
Miguel Mora Copa, Windermere
Masato Hatanaka, Lexington

Female 40-44
Stephanie Poole, Hattiesburg
Katie Pothier, Johns Creek
Leticia Lutes, Albertville

Male 40-44
Ralph Buckingham, Grand Rapids
Eric Oleson, Estero
Brad Parkerson, Loganville

Female 45-49
Jennifer Lesser, Cumming

Male 45-49
Andrew Knight, Marietta
John Hart, Murfreesboro
Sean Martin, Tipp City

Female 50-54
Sally Chu, Madison

Male 50-54
Dan Netzer, Norfolk
Adam Handler, Atlanta
Keith Mayer, Hilliard

Female 55-59
Diana Nalley, Huntsville
Betsy Hard, Chattahoochee Hills
Egla Richey, Birmingham

Male 55-59
Robert Nunes, Palmetto
David Burnett, Wenham
Francis Manfred, Lafayette

Female 65-69
Mimi Fagan, Belvidere
Diane Schleicher, Dahlonega
Janet Owens, The Woodlands

Male 60-64
Tim Taylor
Stephen Berghash, Livonia
Jeffrey T Wickett, Pickens

 

Male 65-69
Mike Adams, Tampa
Les Painter, Estero
Hugh Smith, Fort Wayne

 

Male 70+
Paul Mowery, Decatur
Mark Peterson, Cornelius
Dan Fineran, Mooresville

 


Link to full 2022 Cheaha time trial results are at: https://my.raceresult.com/200874/#1_FB507F

2022 Cheaha Challenge, Gran Fondo & ULTRA Results

Over 1,000 cyclists gathered at the Coliseum at Jacksonville State University on the Sunday morning for "The toughest ride in the South. Cyclists welcomed the cool early morning start for the first 30 miles as the sun rose into beautiful cloudless skies across sunny Alabama.

There were several distances on offer to suit all abilities 24, 44, 62, 84, the 100 mile Gran Fondo, the qualifier for the UCI and USA cycling championships and for the toughest, the 126 mile ULTRA distance!

The 100 mile route, as well as the 84 and 126 mile ULTRA route took riders through scenic Cheaha State Park and the into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, with breath-taking vistas of the beautiful mountains and valleys in the region.

The century ride included 9,714 feet of climbing including the highest point in Alabama, and the ULTRA encompassed all major climbs in the area including the hardest Category 2 climb in Alabama – Lake Chinnabee to the top of Mount Cheaha, for a total of 13,492 feet of climbing. The ride took cyclists along the scenic and rugged terrain of the Talladega Mountains, and included nine rest stop locations for the century and 12 rest stop locations for the ULTRA.

Over 1,000 cyclists gathered at the Coliseum at Jacksonville State University on the Sunday morning

Photo credit: Tracey White

In the 24 mile challenge, 28 year-old Georgia Whitta was fastest in a time of 1h 20m, ahead of Sarah Mccallister second from Birmingham second and Bill Wakefield from Annisiton third.

In the 44 mile challenge, Gus Mingrone from Monroe was fastest in a time of 2h 5m, ahead of Jamey Waugh from Oxford second and David Micale from Gadsden third.

In the 62 mile challenge, Chris Conner from Anniston was fastest in a time of 2h 59m ahead of Jared Pointer from Oxford second and William Maddox from Mountain Brook third.

In the 84 mile challenge, Brad Parkerson from Loganville was fastest in a time 4 hours ahead of Patrick Williamson from Homewood second and Dusty Davis from Birmingham third.

In the 100 mile Gran Fondo, Andrew Knight from Marietta was the fastest in a time of 4h 32m ahead of Ralph Buckingham from Grand Rapids second and Ulisses Abbud from Miami third. In the women’s category, Katharina Sweatt was fastest in a time 5h 5m ahead of Blaire Mccurry from Birmingham second and Jacqueline Green from Huntsville third.

In the 126 mile ULTRA distance, Eric Nelson from Chickasaw was fastest in a time of 6h 35m ahead of Dado Slezak seconf and Scott Mcneil from Germantown third. In the women’s category, Jacqueline Harrison from Winter Haven was fastest in a time of 8h 6m ahead of Wendy Jacobsen from Montgomery second and Terri Sullivan from Hoover third.

There were also three KOM/QOM competitions on the courses: Three Mile Climb (84, 100 and ULTRA routes), Chinnabee Lake Cat 2 Climb (ULTRA route) and Chimney Peak (ULTRA route). Full results can be found be here:

KOM1: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#0_6D430E
KOM2: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#0_13706F
KOM3: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#0_0D2569

Previous ride director Brooke Nelson who rode the 100 mile distance, commented afterwards, “The weather was cool at the start and for the first 20-30 miles. Warmed up a bit after that, but not bad. NO WIND! I was so happy to get to ride it, and had so much fun the whole time. I rode most of the first half with my oldest son, and the second half with my middle son. I could not have asked for more fun for 100 miles.”

“My congratulations to new ride director Stuart Lamp and his team this year they did an excellent job in organising the race.” stated Brooke.

Indeed, the timing team had over 12,000 passes over the timing mats at the weekend!

All participants celebrated and enjoyed a Post-Ride Buffet back at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville afterwards.

Proceeds from the Cheaha Challenge & ULTRA go to maintaining local trails – Chief Ladiga Trail, Black Creek Trails, Coldwater Mountain Trail, and to fund a grant program for the local High School Mountain Bike Teams.

Link to full Cheaha results: https://my.raceresult.com/200688

Proceeds from the Cheaha Challenge & ULTRA go to maintaining local trails

Photo credit: Tracey White

2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships

In the 100 miles century ride on Sunday with twice the climb of Cheaha Mountain and a lot of elevation, Andrew Knight from Georgia moved up one place to be the overall winner of the day starting in the faster second wave. He was the only rider being able to bridge the gap to the best riders in the earlier start wave under 45. Ralph Buckingham (M40-44) from Michigan and Ulisses Abbud (M35-39) from Florida joined him as overall second and third to win their respective age groups. The average speed of Andrew was 21.9 miles/h on the challenging course.

Katharina Sweatt (F35-39) was the fastest female of the day, beating Blaire Mccurry (F45-49) with almost half an hour while Jacqueline Green (F40-44) got overall third to win her age group for a complete overall Alabama podium for the women. Katherina's average speed was 19.6 miles/h.

Riders who took part in the UCI Gran Fondo qualifier will be contacted to confirm they have qualified for the 2022 UCI Time Trial and Gran Fondo World Championships. Please note: the top three and top 25% in each age category will be also be awarded with qualification and guaranteed entry.

2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships

Photo credit: Tracey White

2022 USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships

There were series points up for grabs riding the 100-mile century route. Athletes who participate can qualify for the 2022 USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships event in Asheville, North Carolina on July 17, 2022.

Riders will be contacted to confirm they have qualified.

The GFNS age group category results can be found here:

62 mile Piccolo Fondo: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#3_960533
84 mile Medio Fondo: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#4_EFA8AB
100 mile Gran Fondo U45: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#5_0264A2
100 mile Gran Fondo 45-54: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#6_A9DCBA
100 mile Gran Fondo 55+: https://my.raceresult.com/200688/#7_A6A9AB