The Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo is a ride for all cyclists, no matter your experience level in the sport. This ride has a bit of everything from the ULTRA course that features 126 miles of the toughest terrain around, down to the traditional 100, 84, 62, 44 and 24 mile routes on the Challenge course and the 50,25 and 12 mile options for the Chief Ladiga Cruise. Some of those distances offer the chance to ride up Mount Cheaha, the highest point in the state of Alabama.
The ride started as a recreational ride that riders would participate in with the goal of racing the course to get a fast time, while others would start with the singular goal of simply finishing. The ride still offers those opportunities to this day, but they are a bit more defined than it was in 1993. There is a competitive aspect to the ride with both the UCI Gran Fondo World Series and Gran Fondo National Series affiliations to qualify for the UCI World Championships and USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships respectively, as well as the Time Trial held the day before the Gran Fondo for those looking to race and ride as fast as they can.
For riders looking for a tough ride to challenge themselves to complete, but maybe not as concerned about time goals, then you can find it here. We are blessed with hundreds of riders who participate with the goal of finishing and having a great time among the various distances. We also have options for new cyclists, or those who just like easier social rides, such as the Chief Ladiga Cruise and the shorter distances of the Cheaha Challenge route. When it is all done, we gather around at the finish area and have great post-ride meal to tell stories of how the ride went and connect with other riders from all over the US, and the World.
The Cheaha Challenge is now in it's 30th year, where it has grown from the humble roots from that first edition to become the largest annual cycling event in Alabama, and one of the largest in the United States. We are excited to continue the tradition in 2023 and we look forward to seeing you on the start line!
A Top 10 Event in the State of Alabama as selected by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel in 2006, 2010, and 2012.
Saturday, May 20, 2023: Eubanks Welcome Center, Piedmont, AL
Time Trial (12 miles) from Piedmont to Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville, AL
Sunday, May 21, 2023: Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville, AL
Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo & ULTRA (with distances of 24, 44, 62, 84, 100 and 126 miles).
The Chief Ladiga Cruise ride on the paved rails-to-trail (with distances of 12, 25, and 50 miles)
REGISTRATION DEADLINES AND FEES
Time Trial: Junior Division (1/2 of adult division fees)
Opening – May 1 $20
May 2 – May 19 $25
Time Trial: All other divisions
Opening - May 1 $40
May 2 – May 19 $50
Cheaha Challenge (24 and 44 mile routes):
Opening - Oct. 21 (Early Bird) $45
Oct. 22 - Dec. 31 $50
Jan. 1 - Mar. 1 $55
Mar. 2 - May 19 $60
May 20, 21 $70
Cheaha Challenge (62, 84, 100 and ULTRA ROUTES:
Opening - Oct. 21 (Early Bird) $70
Oct. 22 - Dec. 31 $90
Jan. 1 - Mar. 1 $105
Mar. 2 - May 19 $120
May 20, 21 $140
Chief Ladiga Cruise Ride
Opening - Oct. 21 (Early Bird) $25
Oct. 22 - Dec. 31 $35
Jan. 1 - Mar. 1 $40
Mar. 2 - May 19 $45
May 20, 21 $50
- Pre-Ride Party – Enjoy a phenomenal meal by local favorite – Effina’s – on Saturday evening. Discounted price of $15/head for all.
- Pre-ride breakfast at JSU – Free to all: riders, family, friends, vendors, volunteers, sponsors.
- Pre-ride devotion - By Dunaway Conner, inside Pete Mathews Coliseum (7:00 am).Post-ride party – Buffet by Cooter’s Rib Shack and entertainment.
- Free for all riders. Discounted price $15 head for non-riders.Fully stocked Rest Stops - Depending on the distance chosen, Challenge and ULTRA riders have access up to 12 Rest Stops (The Chief Ladiga Cruise has 5 Rest Stops.)
- Law enforcement supportMedical support on courses and at Start/Finish by JSU’s College of Nursing Trailer, with support from Highland Health Systems.SAG and technical support.
- On-course communication.Official custom number bibs.Professional Timing – TopView Sports. Chip time – start to finish.}
- Option to order custom event jerseys, bibs, and shorts by Hincapie Sports.Custom ride T-shirts.
- Bragging rights for ULTRA Finishers ONLY, and ULTRA Finishers receive a custom Finisher Shirt (Non-Finishers will receive the ashes of their burned shirts).
- ULTRA Finishers have the option to order the custom ULTRA FINISHER jersey.
- Finisher medals
- Massage Therapy On-Site
- BIKEXPO – At Pete Mathews Coliseum Saturday and Sunday.
- HOT SHOWERS AT THE FINISH!
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
- UCI Gran Fondo TT Championship - Receive UCI Medals for age groups, and 1st place receives a UCI jersey