Register NOW for the 30th Annual Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo, Century and ULTRA and SAVE!
Can you handle the toughest ride in the South? Qualify for the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Series Championships in Maryland and the UCI Gran Fondo World Series in Glasgow, Scotland in September 2023. $3,250 in Prize Money!
2023 will see the 30th annual running of the "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.
For the 6th year, the 100 mile century and the 12.5 mile time trial will be qualifiers for the 2023 UCI Gran Fondo and Time Trial World Championships that will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from 4th to 7th August 2023.
Stuart Lamp, Cheaha Challenge Ride Director, commented “The Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) is honored to again host the qualifiers for 2023 UCI Gran Fondo and Time Trial World Championships to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.”
“We are thrilled the UCI has chosen our rides and look forward to again inviting cyclists from all over the world to visit our little corner of the world on the weekend of May 20th & 21st, 2023.”
The 30th Annual Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA, with distance options of 24, 44, 62, 84, 100 and the ULTRA course – 126 miles (for experienced riders only), will take place in Jacksonville, AL on Sunday, May 21, 2023. The century ride includes 9,714 feet of climbing including the highest point in Alabama, and the ULTRA encompasses 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 takes cyclists along the scenic and rugged terrain of the Talladega Mountains, and includes nine rest stop locations for the century and 12 rest stop locations for the ULTRA. The Century and ULTRA are for riders 16 years old or older.
The Chief Ladiga Cruise is kinder, gentler family style ride that offers distances of 12, 25 or 50 miles on the Chief Ladiga rails-to-trail. There will be rest stops on the course, which is all on the paved bike path through Alabama's countryside with Dugger Mountain as the backdrop.
This huge festival of cycling takes place on the weekend of May 20-21st, 2022 in Jacksonville, Alabama, starting at Jacksonville State University, which also provides inexpensive accommodation, there’s also RV camping and tent camping with 15-20 minutes of the University.
The event hosts a 12 mile Individual Time Trial on Saturday May 20th that allows riders to qualify for the UCI World Time Trial Championship held in conjunction with the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.
The 12 mile course is flat and fast, held on the Chief Ladiga Trail, a paved rails-to-trail, from Piedmont to Jacksonville, and is the qualifier for all age groups. The time trial is also the AL/GA State Championship, and has a Junior Division for that championship.
The Cheaha Challenge Time Trial takes place on Saturday, May 20 at the Eubanks Welcome Center, Piedmont, AL.
The Century Ride
For the 5th year, the 100 mile century ride will be qualifier for the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo Championships, only the century riders are eligible, and your age group is determined by your age on 12/31/22.
The first three in each age category and the top 25% of each age category will be awarded with guaranteed entry to the UCI Gran Fondo World. Note: If there are three in your age group who start the race– everybody qualifies! If there are four who start the race, the top three qualify. If there are 100 in your age group who start the race, 25 will qualify.
The Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo begins and ends in Jacksonville, AL. The challenge of this ride is that the participants encounter more than 9,700 feet of cumulative climbing for the 100 mile route.
The course goes up and over Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in the state, the TOP OF ALABAMA!
The 100 mile route, as well as the 84 and 126 mile ULTRA takes riders through scenic Cheaha State Park, Alabama’s oldest continually-operating state park that is surrounded by the Talladega National Forest in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, affording breath-taking vistas of the beautiful mountains and valleys in this foothills region. The area is a recreational wonderland with multitudes of hiking trails, gravel routes, and mountain bike paths.
The course is out-and-back and takes cyclists over Cheaha Mountain, Alabama's highest point at 2,407 feet, and home of Cheaha State Park. Given that the route is out-and-back, cyclists also have a lot of FAST downhill too!
The century ride includes 10 rest stops throughout to keep you fed and hydrated (13 for the ULTRA).
The 100 mile route features the climbs of White’s Gap, Heflin Mountain, Horseblock Mountain, Not Again, Oh Shift! and the 3-Mile Climb to Bunker Tower in Cheaha State Park, the TOP OF ALABAMA KOM/QOM timed section (total of 3 KOM/QOM timed sections on the ULTRA route). The route continues with the climb of Adam’s Gap and turns around for the second climb of Bunker Tower and traces the route back to Jacksonville.
Awards are available for the KOM/QOM section, and for the 1st/2nd/3rd Place Overall Winners (Male/Female) for the Cheaha Challenge century distance. Overall and Age Group winners of the century distance will be awarded UCI medals, and 1st place winners will receive UCI jerseys.
The CCC+ is famous for being extremely well organized and supported by local volunteers and businesses.
2023 UCI Gran Fondo World Championship Qualifier
For the 6th year, the 100 mile century and the 12.5 mile time trial will be qualifiers for the 2023 UCI Gran Fondo and Time Trial World Championships that will take place in Glasgow, Scotland from 4th to 7th August 2023, one of only two qualifiers in the USA.
Only the century riders are eligible, and your age group is determined by your age on 12/31/22.
The first three in each age category and the top 25% of each age category will be awarded with guaranteed entry to the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship. Only the century riders are eligible. (Note: If there are three in your age group who start the race– everybody qualifies! If there are four who start the race, the top three qualify. If there are 100 in your age group who start the race, 25 will qualify.
The historic and innovative event will take place over two weeks in August 2023. It will bring together 13 UCI World Championships for different cycling disciplines in one unprecedented event that will see thousands of the world's best cyclists vying to win the prestigious rainbow jersey.
These World Championships will include the UCI Road World Championships, Para-cycling Road World Championships, Track cycling and Para-cycling Track World Championships, Mountain bike cross-country, downhill, marathon and cross-country eliminator World Championships, Trials, BMX Freestyle and BMX World Championships, Indoor Cycling and finally UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.
You will get the chance to combine your participation in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships with a visit to one of the other World Championships and watch the big stars competing for their gold medals.
Find out more at: https://www.cyclingworldchamps.com/championships/gran-fondo
USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships
The Cheaha Challenge is an official 2023 Gran Fondo National Series event. This includes an opportunity for riders who participate in the Cheaha Challenge to earn Series Points and qualify for the 2023 USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championship, which will be held in 2023 in Maryland.
Scoring for Gran Fondo National Series points at Cheaha Challenge will be determined by adding each riders’ overall Start-to-Finish time with their segment-times. Age-groups for scoring will be matched to Gran Fondo National Series age-groups and may not follow the same primary age-groupings used at Cheaha Challenge.
Specificity calculation for GFNS Gran, Medio, and Piccolo placement and points will be calculated in the following way:
Gran Route = Cheaha Century Route (Start-to-Finish time) + (3 Mile Climb segment time) + (Adam’s Gap segment time) = (competitive time for GFNS Gran Route placement and points)
Medio Route = Cheaha 84mi Route (Start-to-Finish time) + (3 Mile Climb segment time) = (competitive time for GFNS Medio Route placement and points)
Piccolo Route = Cheaha 62mi Route (Start-to-Finish time) = (competitive time for GFNS Piccolo Route placement and points)
Individual and Team Awards
As well as the opportunity to qualify for the USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Series and UCI Gran Fondo World Series, there is $3,250 of prize money on offer!
KOM/QOM Competitions - winners are eligible to receive awards for Overall or Age Group Awards. A cyclist can win all KOM/QOM competitions:
- 3 Mile Climb
- Lake Chinnabee to the Top
- Chimney Peak
Challenge Century Overall Fastest Time – Winners are eligible to win KOM/QOM (3 Mile Climb).
A Team is comprised of all members registering under the team name, no matter which distance they choose to ride (Cruise – ULTRA). The award is based solely on the number of riders on each team. Team with most number of riders wins! Winners receive a check to the cycling initiative non-profit of their choice.
2023 Cheaha Challenge Kit!
Hincapie Velocity Short Sleeve Jersey Bibshorts, Shorts and Cap are available to purchase in the online store.
Register NOW and SAVE!
For detailed information and registration, please go to: http://www.cheahachallenge.com
Additional tickets for the Pre-Ride Dinner buffet are $15/each (discounted pricing) for both riders and non-riders, and is catered by Effina’s on Saturday, May 20, 2023 from 5-8 p.m. at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville, AL. Buffet includes a pasta bar with multi-options of pasta, sauces, protein, vegetarian and gluten-free options, salad, bread, and dessert.
Post-Ride Buffet is FREE for all registered riders as it is included in your registration fee on Sunday, May 21, 2023 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville, AL. DO NOT purchase a ticket for yourself if you’re a registered rider, but do purchase for your guests at $15 for non-riders (discounted pricing). Buffet is catered by Cooter Brown's Rib Shack, and will include barbeque, salad, veggies, vegetarian and gluten-free options, bread and dessert.
Where do you order these? Go to the store page and scroll down below the 2023 Cheaha Challenge Kit.
Benefiting the Local Cycling Community
Proceeds from the Cheaha Challenge & ULTRA go to maintain the Chief Ladiga and Black Creek Trails as well as the Coldwater Mountain Trail.
It also funds a grant program for local High School Mountain Bike Teams.
These trails became a lifesaver for local community during the pandemic when staying local, socially distant and maintaining your mental health.