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Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA

May 13 - May 14 2023
Jacksonville, Alabama, USA
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Distances: 24, 44, 62, 84, 100, 126 miles
Difficulty: Ultra Distance and Climbing for events well over 100 miles
Limited to: 1,500 Participants

2022 Cheaha Challenge CENTURY is AGAIN the qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship and the UCI Time Trial World Championship!

We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host a USA Qualifier for the 2021 UCI Gran Fondo and Time Trial World Championship. Participants of the Century ride and/or Time Trial on May 14 and 15, 2022 will earn qualification to enter the World Championship if they place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in their respective age group and/or if they are in the top 25% of their age group.

The Cheaha Challenge Time Trial is a flat and fast 12 mile point-to-point course all on the Chief Ladiga paved rails-to-trail. Start is at Eubanks Welcome Center in Piedmont, Alabama and finishes at Pete Mathews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama.

The 29th Annual Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA ride begins and ends in Jacksonville, AL. The challenge of this ride is that the participants encounter more than 9,714 feet of cumulative climbing for the century ride, and more than 13,492 feet over 126 miles for the ULTRA (for experienced riders only). Shorter route options have much less climbing. The Cheaha Challenge/ULTRA is famous for being extremely well organized and supported by local volunteers and businesses.

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 FAST downhill! Most of the 100 mile route takes riders through the Talladega National Forest by way of the Talladega Scenic Drive, affording breathtaking vistas of the beautiful mountains and valleys in this foothills region.The ULTRA portion is for experienced riders only, and encompasses all major climbs in our area: Chinnabee Recreation Area (hardest Cat 2 climb in the State), Mount Cheaha, Bain's Gap, Cottaquilla, and Chimney Peak.

Chip timing allows us to crown a "King/Queen of the Mountain" (KOM/QOM) rider on the famously steep "3 Mile Climb" leading to the top of Alabama at Cheaha State Park, and allows us to post accurate timing.  Also for the ULTRA, we have a KOM/QOM from Chinnabee Recreation Area to the Top of Alabama inside Cheaha State Park.There will be third a KOM/QOM on the ULTRA course on the route up Chimney Peak (1.6 miles), that includes a 22% grade.  Yes, THREE KOM/QOMs!

CHIEF LADIGA CRUISE Ride - Looking for a little bit less of a Challenge? Or do you have family or friends looking for something to do while you're out riding the Challenge?

Check out the Chief Ladiga Cruise, a kinder/gentler ride of 12, 25 or 50 (to the state line) miles (or less, if you want) on The Ladiga Trail, with three rest stop locations on the route. Enjoy this paved bike path through north Alabama's countryside with Dugger Mountain as the backdrop. (Start time is 8 a.m., 30 minutes after the 7:30 a.m. start of the Challenge.)

TRANSPORT TO THE TOP: If you have family/friends/spectators/cheerleaders who just want to get a glimpse of you out on the course, we offer a Transport to the Top, inside Cheaha State Park at Rest Stop #4. We do not allow crews on our course, as we already have 12 Rest Stops, depending on the distance chosen, and any vehicles outside of our safety team and SAG are highly discouraged due to safety issues. So, choose the safe option and register your peeps to ride the transport. (Transport will leave from the Start/Finish venue at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville State University at 8 a.m., and take a back route to the top so as not to impede the cyclists. They will be returned to the Start/Finish after the cutoff time from Cheaha State Park at 12 noon. Cost: $10 per adult; kids are free.) Questions:

CUSTOM MERCHANDISE: The Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA (And Chief Ladiga Cruise rides have some of the coolest merchandise at any event. Custom jerseys/bibs/shorts. But don't miss the pre-order deadline: Feb. 16, 2022.

ULTRA FINISHERS receive a coveted Finishers T-Shirt and are allowed to order the coveted ULTRA FINISHER JERSEY the day after the event. All ULTRA registrants who don't finish, have their FINISHER T-Shirt burned and the ashes mailed to them post-event. If you don't earn it, Brooke Nelson will burn it.

BIKEXPO: This year's expo will exhibit a mixture of cycling merchandise, services, vendors, etc. And since it takes place on Saturday, May 15, too, you will have the ultimate exposure as cyclists compete in the Time Trial and others arrvie to pick up packets/.merchandise for the Sunday events. Interested in more info, contact Drew Nelson:

TEAM VILLAGE: Have a team? All teams/clubs are invited to set up a "base" in our Team Village, located along the finisher chute. For more details or to sign up, contact: Drew Nelson

Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA

Start Located At: Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama
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(256) 239-9001

For all riders:

Thanks to Highland Health Systems - Cash prizes for THREE KOM/QOM, Overall Century and ULTR. And Team Awards, too!
28th Anniversary Celebration!
Goody Bags - drawstring backpacks stuffed full of goodies and info, compliments of Sunny King Automotive
Pre-ride breakfast at ride site
Pre-ride devotion -  (7:00 am)
Post-ride party - complete with buffet, beverages, finisher gifts, bands and more! Free for registered riders ($10 discounted fee for non-riders)
Fully stocked Rest Stops - Depending on the distance chosen, Challenge and ULTRA riders have access up to 17 Rest Stops. (The Chief Ladiga Cruise has access to 5 Rest Stops.)
Law enforcement support
Medical support
SAG and technical support
On-course communication
Official custom bibs
Professional Timing - Top View Sports
Option to order custom event jerseys (Hincapie Sports)
Custom ride t-shirts
Bragging rights and special shirts for ULTRA finishers only! And custom ULTRA FINISHER jerseys, only finishers can order.
Finisher medal for Cheaha Challenge Century and ULTRA riders, and Cruise; Winner Medals for Challenge and ULTRA
Finisher gifts - Custom Cycling Cap compliments of Highland Health Systems
Massage Therapy: TBA
Hot showers at the finish

Packet Pickups




Prize / Race Categories

Finisher awards include: Challenge/ULTRA/Cruise - Sunday

- UCI World Championship Qualifiers (Century ride) receive UCI Medals, and 1st place in each age group receives UCI jersey

- Century Ride: Overall Top three male/female receive awards

- ULTRA Winners -Overall Top three male/female receive awards

- KOM/QOM - Three segments; top three male/female receive awards

- For Cheaha Challenge/ULTRA riders (and NEW - Cruise riders): Finisher Medals

- Gran Fondo buffet

TimeTrial: Saturday

- UCI Gran Fondo TT Championship - Receive UCI Medals for age groups, and 1st place receives a UCI jersey

- AL/GA State Championship/Handcycle/Juniors - Awards to be announced

Adequate Car Parking
Free Parking
Changing Rooms
Registration On the Day
Pre-Packet Pickups
Support for Participants
Route Signposted
Route Card
First Aid
Emergency Contact No
SAG Wagon
Escort / Police Escort
Roving Mechanical Support
Mechanical Support at Rest Stops
Closed Roads
Bike Festival
After Party
Kids Fondo
Free Training Rides
Course Timing
Section Timing
KOM/QOM Competition
Category / Race Prizes
Finishing Medals
Results Within 24 Hours
Personalised Bib (Name and QR Code)
Downloadable GPS files
Post Ride Shower
Finish Line Chute
Feed / Aid Stations
Pre Event Meal(s) Provided As Part of Entry
Post Event Meal(s) Provided As Part of Entry
Number of Aid Stations: 17
Number of Timed Hill Climbs
3 Hill Climbs
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