28th Annual

Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo

Century, ULTRA, & Time Trial

(And Chief Ladiga Cruise Family Ride)

Saturday & Sunday

May 16 & 17, 2020

Jacksonville, Alabama



Start-to-Finish Summary of All Routes



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. At mile 8.75 miles, riders turn right onto HWY 9. Everything is familiar to the previous riders - the views and vistas, and especially the friendly, cheering volunteers.

  5. REST STOP #1 (RS1): Mile 12 at HWY 9 and Cottaquilla Road.

    RIDERS TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 24 MILE ROUTE.  Skip to step 21 below for the 24-mile route return.

  6. 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 next climb is coming up before RS2.

  7. At 20.25 miles, riders turn left on to HWY 78 and climb Heflin Mountain before turning left off HWY 78 to 281 and RS2, which is at the 22 mile marker.

  8. REST STOP #2 (RS2): Mile 22 at the entrance to the HWY281/Skyway.

    TURN AROUND HERE FOR THE 44 MILE ROUTE. Skip to step 21 for the 44-mile route return.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 21 for the 62-mile route return.

  11. After a fast one-mile descent of Horseblock Mountain (remember this hill on the trip back), riders begin a one-mile ascent of the next steep climb, "Not Again."

  12. Riders top "Not Again" at approximately mile 33 and travel rolling terrain.

  13. At approximately mile 35, riders begin a one-mile ascent of "Oh Shift."

  14. 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 by Bunker Tower inside Cheaha State Park.)

  15. Riders turn right into Cheaha State Park, taking a right by the guard shack and continue on the loop before turning left to go by Bunker Tower - the highest point in Alabama. (Note: King/Queen of the Mountain competitors, the mat will be on the road in front of Bunker Tower.) Continue past Bunker Tower to Rest Stop #4 at Pavilion #1.

  16. REST STOP #4 (RS4): Mile 42. RS4 is located to the left next to the Bigfoot Pavilion directly across from Bunker Tower. Riders go straight past RS4 and take a sharp left - caution - to go by the guard station. Riders then can return to 281 - Riders take a left onto 281 to return to Jacksonville. Riders take a right onto 281 to go to Adam's Gap for the Century and ULTRA distances.

    FOR THE 84 MILE ROUTE, RIDERS TAKE A LEFT OUT OF CHEAHA STATE PARK ON 281. Skip to step 21 below for the 84-mile route return.

    NOTE: No rider is allowed to ride to Adam's Gap past this point after 12:00 noon. At 12:00 noon, all riders must head back to Jacksonville.

  17. 100/124 mile riders descend from Cheaha State Park toward Adam's Gap.

  18. At approximately mile 47, riders begin ascent to Adam's Gap.

  19. REST STOP #5 (RS5): Mile 50 at Adam's Gap where the pavement ends.


  20. Remember, all 100/124 mile riders must enter Cheaha State Park and go to Rest Stop #4 a SECOND time at mile 57 on the return from Adam's Gap heading back to Jacksonville. After going to Rest Stop #4 a second time, riders will leave the park the same way, but will turn left onto 281 to head back to Jacksonville.

  21. Now for the trip back! All riders and ULTRA riders continue the same course back - passing Rest Stops #3 (mile 69) and #2 (mile 78) - until mile 87, where ULTRA RIDERS WILL turn left onto Choccolocco Road. (ULTRA RIDERS SKIP to step 28 for route details.) All other riders will stay north on HWY 9.

  22. After riders pass RS1 at mile 87.8 on HWY 9 the 24, 44, 62, 84 and 100 milers turn left (caution) at mile 91 on White's Gap Rd. The climb to White's Gap is shorter, but steeper, in this direction. It's 1.2 miles averaging 6%.

  23. After descending White's Gap Road, riders turn right at White's Gap Church to return to White's Gap Rd. SE at mile 94.3.

  24. Riders turn right on to Church Ave. at mile 95 (before the Sonic), heading north through a series of stop signs that parallel Pelham Rd./HWY 21.

  25. Riders turn left onto Mountain St. at mile 96.2, and -caution - cross Pelham Rd./HWY 21.

  26. Riders cross the Chief Ladiga Trail, then turn right onto Park Avenue NW to the JSU Coliseum.

  27. Riders turn left into the JSU Coliseum parking lot to the FINISH LINE.

    ULTRA COURSE - 124 miles total

  28. At mile 87, ULTRA riders turn left off HWY 9 onto Choccolocco Road.

  29. At mile 89, 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.

  30. REST STOP #6 (RS6): Mile 94 at the MDA office.

  31. ULTRA riders turn around at the MDA office, and ascend Bain's Gap back to Choccolocco Road.

  32. At mile 99, ULTRA riders turn left onto Choccolocco Road, and at 100.7 turn left onto HWY 9.

  33. At mile 101, ULTRA riders turn right onto Rainbow Road.

  34. At mile 102.5, ULTRA riders turn left onto Chinch Creek Road.

  35. At mile 106.2, ULTRA riders turn left onto Brown Bridge Road.

  36. At mile 106.9, ULTRA riders turn left onto Red Road 55.

  37. At mile 110, ULTRA riders turn left onto White Plains Road, and then a quick right onto 57.

  38. REST STOP #1 (RS1): Mile 111 at the intersection of Cottaquilla Rd. and HWY 9. Riders go straight across HWY 9 to the rest stop.

  39. ULTRA riders leave RS1 on Cottaquilla Rd.

  40. 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 at mile 114.6.

  41. At mile 116.8, 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.

  42. At mile 118, ULTRA riders turn right onto Mountain St. NW, continuing on until it turns into Chimney Peak Tower Rd.

  43. REST STOP #7 (RS7): Mile 121 at Chimney Peak Observatory.

  44. 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.

  45. ULTRA riders continue on Mountain St. NW across Pelham Rd./HWY 21

  46. ULTRA riders cross the Chief Ladiga Trail, then turn right onto Park Avenue NW to the JSU Coliseum.

  47. ULTRA riders turn left into the JSU Coliseum parking lot to the FINISH LINE.


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The Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century & ULTRA is a Top Ten Gran Fondo in the US, as ranked by Gran Fondo Guide!