This page is where you can discover all you need to know about all aspects of both the Cheaha Challenge Century and ULTRA rides - Rest Stop locations, ride details, elevation profiles, mileage, etc. As if the Cheaha Challenge isn't challenging enough, organizers had to go and ramp it up and create an ULTRA option.
Here's a start-to-finish summary of all the routes:
- All riders start on the north side of the Pete Mathews Coliseum on Jacksonville State University's campus, taking a quick left out of the parking lot onto Park Avenue NW. Riders then turn right to HWY 204.
- Riders turn right onto Pelham Rd./HWY 21 and continue south for 1.7 miles past the historic JSU campus buildings, through the center of town around the Jacksonville square and turn left at mile 2.2 onto White's Gap Rd. SE.
- At 4.5 miles, riders turn left at the White's Gap Church onto White's Gap Rd. The warm-up climb starts in earnest with a 1.9 mile climb which averages 4% with a couple of brief double digit grade spots.
- At mile 8.75 miles, riders turn right onto HWY 9. From this point out and back to here the ride is unchanged from previous years. Everything is familiar to the returning riders - the views and vistas, and especially the friendly, cheering volunteers.
- REST STOP #1 (RS1): Mile 12 at HWY 9 and Cottaquilla Road.
RIDERS TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 24 MILE ROUTE. Skip to step 19 below for the 24-mile route return.
- Riders continue south on HWY 9 and pass the Iron City Baptist Church at mile 18.6 which has folks cheering and handing off water. The second hardest climb is coming up before RS2.
- At 20.25 miles, riders turn left on to HWY 78 and climb Heflin Mountain to RS2 which is at the 22 mi marker.
- REST STOP #2 (RS2): Mile 22 at the entrance to the HWY281/Skyway.
TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 44 MILE ROUTE. Skip to step 19 for the 44-mile route return.
- After RS2, riders start the rollercoaster to the highest point in Alabama, Mount Cheaha. At approximately 30 miles is Horseblock Mountain, the first really steep climb on the course.
- REST STOP #3 (RS3): Mile 31 at the top of the climb up Horseblock Mountain.
TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 62 MILE ROUTE. Skip to step 19 for the 62-mile route return.
- After a fast one-mile descent of Horseblock Mountain (remember this hill on the trip back), riders begin a one-mile ascent of next steep climb, "Not Again."
- Riders top "Not Again" at approximately mile 33 and travel rolling terrain.
- At approximately mile 35, riders begin a one-mile ascent of "Oh Shift."
- At approximately mile 39, riders begin the 3-mile ascent to Cheaha State Park. (For riders competing in the King/Queen of the Mountain contest, this is where the mat will start your timing, from here to the top of AL.)
- REST STOP #4 (RS4): Mile 42. RS4 is located at the highest point in Alabama, the top of Mount Cheaha inside Cheaha State Park at Bunker Tower. No rider is allowed past this point after 12:00 noon.
TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 84 MILE ROUTE. Skip to step 19 below for the 84-mile route return.
- Descend from Cheaha State Park toward Adam's Gap.
- At approximately mile 47, riders begin ascent to Adam's Gap.
- REST STOP #5 (RS5): Mile 50 at Adam's Gap where the pavement ends.
TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 100 MILE ROUTE
- Now for the trip back! All riders and ULTRA riders continue the same course back until mile 87, where ULTRA RIDERS WILL turn left onto Choccolocco Road. (ULTRA RIDERS SKIP to step 26 for route details.) All other riders will stay north on HWY 9.
- After riders pass RS1 on HWY 9 the 24, 44, 62, 84 and 100 milers turn left (caution) on White's Gap Rd. The climb to White's Gap is shorter, but steeper, in this direction. Its 1.2 miles averaging 6%.
- After the descending White's Gap Road, riders turn right at White's Gap Church to return to White's Gap Rd. SE.
- Riders turn right on to Church Ave. (before the Sonic), heading north through a series of stop signs that parallel Pelham Rd./HWY 21.
- Riders turn left onto Mountain St., and -caution - cross Pelham Rd./HWY 21.
- Riders cross the Chief Ladiga Trail, then turn right onto Park Avenue NW to the JSU Coliseum.
- Riders turn left into the JSU Coliseum parking lot to the FINISH LINE.
ULTRA COURSE - 124 miles total
- At mile 87, ULTRA riders turn left off HWY 9 onto Choccolocco Road.
- ULTRA riders turn right onto Bain's Gap Road, and go up and over Bain's Gap to the McClellan Development Authority (MDA) office building parking lot at mile 94.
- REST STOP #6 (RS6): Mile 94 at the MDA office.
- ULTRA riders turn around at the MDA office, and ascend Bain's Gap back to Choccolocco Road.
- ULTRA riders turn left onto Choccolocco Road, and cross HWY 9 to White Plains Road at mile 101.
- ULTRA riders turn right onto Rainbow Road.
- ULTRA riders turn left onto Chinch Creek Road.
- ULTRA riders turn left onto Brown Bridge Road.
- ULTRA riders turn left onto Red Road 55.
- ULTRA riders turn left onto White Plains Road, and then a quick right onto 57.
- REST STOP #1 (RS1): Mile 111 at the intersection of Cottaquilla Rd. and HWY 9.
- ULTRA riders leave RS1 on Cottaquilla Rd.
- ULTRA riders descend to the intersection of White's Gap Rd. Riders stay straight across White's Gap Rd. onto White's Gap Rd. SE.
- ULTRA riders turn right on to Church Ave. (before the Sonic), heading north through a series of stop signs that parallel Pelham Rd./HWY 21.
- ULTRA riders turn right onto Mountain St. NW, continuing on until it turns into Chimney Peak Tower Rd.
- REST STOP #7 (RS7): Mile 121 at Chimney Peak Observatory.
- ULTRA riders descend from Chimney Peak onto Mountain St. NW - CAUTION! This road is very curvy, steep, and treacherous. Keep your speed down as you descend.
- ULTRA riders continue on Mountain St. NW across Pelham Rd./HWY 21
- ULTRA riders cross the Chief Ladiga Trail, then turn right onto Park Avenue NW to the JSU Coliseum.
- ULTRA riders turn left into the JSU Coliseum parking lot to the FINISH LINE.
Cheaha Challenge Elevation Profile
Cheaha Challenge Ultra Elevation Profile
GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS: Quite often we are asked about road bike gear recommendations. One of our prospective riders sent this link and said people could get most of their answers from this site.