Cheaha Challenge & ULTRA and Cruise – 5/19/19

The early bird gets the……….best pricing!
Register now for the Cheaha Challenge or ULTRA for only $60,
or the Chief Ladiga Cruise for only $15.
Pricing will never be better! LINK TO REGISTER AND ORDER MERCH:!/events/cheaha-challenge-gran-fondo-2019


Sept. 15 – Nov. 1: $60
Nov. 2 – Jan. 1: $65
Jan. 2 – Mar. 1: $75
Mar. 2 – May 17: $85
May 18, 19: $95

Chief Ladiga Cruise
Sept. 15 – Jan. 1: $15
Jan. 2 – Mar. 1: $20
Mar. 2 – May 17: $25
May 18, 19: $30

The Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) is honored to once again host a qualifier for the 2019 UCI Gran Fondo World Championship. The Cheaha Challenge Gran Fondo Century distance (100 miles) will serve as the qualifier for all age groups, and will take place in Jacksonville, Alabama on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

Registration will open soon.

Just when you think the ULTRA (124 miles/12,835 feet of climbing) can’t get any harder, we prove that indeed it can! According to our ULTRA Ambassador Brian Toone, we have added the closest thing in Alabama to a Category 1 climb, bringing the 2019 ULTRA to 126.35 miles/13,492 feet of climbing from Lake Chinnabee to the Top of Alabama inside Cheaha State Park.

Click to see video with credits to Drew Nelson for awesome work!


With our 4th ride again having an early questionable weather forecast, Saturday’s EXPO was great fun with no rain showers touching us. Riders began pouring in though for the fantastic spread of salad, pasta with a delectable choice of sauces, bread, and tasty desserts by Effina’s Tuscan Grill. First item on the program agenda by Director Brooke Nelson was  the Mark Wiltshire Spirit of a Champion Award, recognizing a cyclist who inspires us by cycling despite physical limitations or illness…this year’s award going to BBC 100 Ride Director, Wayne Spooner.

Saturday evening dinner by Effinas

Wayne Spooner-Mark Wiltshire Spirit of a Champion Award




By Sunday morning’s start time, 879 cyclists were signed up for the 100-mile Challenge, 124-mile ULTRA, or one of the four other supported routes, plus the Ladiga Cruise! Friday’s registration at Wig’s Wheels and sign-up at JSU had gone smoothly with Sunday’s first wave roll-out beginning promptly at 7:30 am.

Click above photo for Ride Start Album

Temps began climbing early in the day and news back at headquarters told us that dehydration and heat exhaustion were taking tolls. Plans can change quickly with 90 degree temps and high humidity and this was the case with many riders having to opt for shorter distances or simply to drop out for their own safety. Others managed to hang in there when attacking the KOM/QOM climbs and in their attempts to qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship. Check out RIDE RESULTS here.

On-course support included fun and well-stocked rest stops and staff volunteers from area Fire, Sheriffs, State Troopers, Police departments, EMA as well as multiple ham radio operators.

Click the pic to see Finishers Photo Album

HUGE congratulations and thanks go out to Director Brooke Nelson, Family, and hundreds of volunteers, the City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville State University, and so many individuals and organizations who came together to provide this awesome, safe, and successful event!

Ride Director Brooke Nelson & Family

And kudos to our Cheaha Challenge and ULTRA Finishers, listed to the right. You succeeded in accomplishing the TOUGHEST RIDE IN THE SOUTH! As always, we are all about recognizing YOU! If you have ANY corrections, please let us know at





2018 Cheaha Challenge Event –

2018 Cheaha Challenge RSVP –

Cheaha Challenge 24.6 –

Cheaha Challenge 44 –

Cheaha Challenge 62 –

Cheaha Challenge 84 –

Cheaha Challenge Century –

Cheaha Challenge ULTRA –





We can’t possibly give enough credit to Ride Director Brooke Nelson and her team in putting on the impressive weekend Gran Fondo Cheaha Challenge & ULTRA! With a grim weather forecast, Brooke sent out positive vibes across the universe and came up with a perfect day for this extremely tough ride, challenging the century riders with 9,714′ feet of climbing and the ULTRA’s with 12,835′!

Saturday’s first BIKEXPO was a great success and we predict huge growth in the coming years. TREK’s Timothy Wakefield joined the ABCS/Glassner Autumn Challenge booth to display our 2017 Grand Prize, the TREK Emonda ALR5. Folks were also able to check out the YETI cooler provided by State Farm’s Thomas Waters and enjoy an ice cold Aquafina water by Buffalo Rock plus purchase Glassner and ABCS Primal Wear jersey gear. And when the “deluge” began, we sure appreciated the canopies provided by Academy Sports!

Photos by Bonnie Traphan & Billy Ritch


The Pre-Ride Party with live music and buffet by Classic on Noble was great fun and the huge tent saved us! One of the awards presented by Director Brooke Nelson was The Spirit of a Champion Award  and is a way to recognize a cyclist who inspires us by cycling despite physical limitations and/or illness. This year’s award went to Brian Smith!






With 838 registered cyclists, 550 were signed up for the 100-mile Challenge & ULTRA! The Saturday night rains subsided just in time for the 7:30 roll out of the ULTRA’s on Sunday morning and pretty much left everyone alone throughout the day.

By 8:00, all waves including the Chief Ladiga Cruisers had begun their ride of choice, including ABCS Support Staff Kathy Thornton, Marsha Burt, & Sarah Churchman.

The ladies at the start!

…and their finish!







Meanwhile, at JSU Headquarters, preparation had already begun for the cyclists’ return with live music and a fantastic lunch layout by Cooter’s Rib Shack. This event truly had the feeling of a Gran Fondo!

With impressive finish times, Brendan Housler (4:24) and Kat Sweatt (4:57) were the first male and female Century finishers.







First male ULTRA finisher was David Winston (6:03) with Judah Sencenbaugh (7:30) as the first female.

As always, both ULTRA and Century finishers are listed to the right on this page. If you have any corrections, please let us know:

Special shout outs go to ALL cyclists who pedaled the 155 miles to support Smile-a-Mile on Saturday and to these Awesome Eight who managed a Cheaha Century or ULTRA on Sunday!

Greg Caldwell, Demetrious White, Bo Bozeman, Kathy Welch, Taylor Dawson, Chris Cole, Gabby Moody, and Prince Whatley

We were very proud to award 14 cyclists with their 4th 2017 Centurion medal and patch!

Allen Yates, Brock Tate, Emeterio Hernandez, Greg Caldwell, Jamey Clements, John Ballew, Roger Larsen, Taylor Dawson, Thomas Fluker, Lain Hawk, Terri Sullivan, Larry Murphy, Jeff Brobst, and Richard Akers

Congrats to Don Mroczko, winner of the Four Corners Gallery unique and personal framed remembrance he will soon receive with his photo and a Cheaha Challenge finisher’s medal.

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the many volunteers who helped over the weekend!! Billy Ritch, you are always there when needed!  Tracey White, Marsha Burt, Terrie Hinton…we are big into photos here with the Series and couldn’t recognize everyone the way we do without you! Amy White, Kathy Thornton, Sarah Churchman, Kathy & Althea Yburan…absolutely top notch organization in checking in hundreds of people, awarding medals, patches, ULTRA shirts, Cheaha caps and so much more.  YOU ALL ROCK!!!

HIGH FIVES to Robert & Bonnie Traphan who do so much behind-the-scene work in making our sign-in process go so smoothly and for riding the only tandem in the Cheaha Challenge!


We have posted hundreds of photos on our BamaBackroads Facebook Photo page and will be adding to this page too!


Steve Justice, after hours of posing in front of the mirror!



Jud Davis and Rachel Leaberry



Click on the photo to view. Hover over each photo for cyclist’s name


View Tracey’s photos by clicking on the above picture. See Tracey’s site for you next photo shoot!



Click above photo to see the album. Hover over most pics to see names.


Click on photo to view. Hover over photos for cyclist’s name


Cheaha Century

Cheaha 24 Mile

Cheaha 44 Miles

Cheaha 62 Mile

Cheaha 84 Mile

Cheaha Ultra

RSVP to the Cheaha Challenge Ride with GPS event to enable premium features such as spoken turn-by-turn directions and offline download capabilities.


Comments about the 2015 Cheaha Challenge:

I have no idea how much work and planning it takes to pull off such an event. But I do know if it looked effortless and was operationally smooth, that does not just ‘happen’.  Thank you for keeping us safe and moving along.
You and your team of sponsors and volunteers did a great job.
Thanks from the middle of the pack,
Chad Hathorne

Comments or questions?  Write us at



  1. Joe Patrick says:

    One of best supported rides I have ever participated in. Great job and thanks to the entire community for their efforts!

  2. Randy Jensen says:

    This was my first Alabama Backroads Century Series event. I did the 100 mile Challenge. The course was everything advertised, plus more. The Horseblock mountain climb is a leg-drainer going out and a will-breaker coming in. Can’t say enough about the volunteers and community support of this event. I’ve never peddled an event with this big of a welcome mat laid out by so many local and state volunteers, community leaders, emergency response providers and law enforcement. I felt safe and taken care of the entire time! Better than that, I felt loved by every cheering bell-ringer along the way. Southern hospitality at its finest! Thanks for everything! I’ll be back.

  3. Greg Caldwell says:

    Was amazed at the support that this ride provided! From check in, the rest stop volunteers, to the state trooper support this ride was awesome!! Will be back for more!!

  4. Matt Butler says:

    This has to be the best organized most well supported ride in the state, possibly the South.

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