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Cherohala Challenge ride report. No pics.(14 posts)

Cherohala Challenge ride report. No pics.Mike P
Jun 15, 2003 5:14 PM
Saturday was the 4th annual Cherohala Challenge. With 113 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain, it is one of the more challenging rides in the area. Just guessing I would say there were a couple hundred riders. Last year I made it in 7:40 by the ride clock, 7:20 on the bike. My goal for this year was to make it in 7 hours.

The ride started promptly at 8 AM from the Tellico Plains High School in Tellico Plains, TN. The weather was not bad, mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and not too hot. The front group was large for the first 5 miles then broke up into several groups; the lead pack remaining about 60 riders. I kept myself midway up this group until the first SAG. I knew I would not be able to make it to the second stop with the water I had so I stopped, expecting more to stop. Only 5 others stopped. I just half filled and got back on the road as quick as I could; none of the others were in a hurry to get started so I rode off alone in a completely futile attempt to catch the pack. I was able to bring them back to 1/4 mile but that was it. The lead group picked up the pace and I got in with couple others who were shelled off the back. We were able to keep the lead group within sight but couldn't seem to catch back up.

The course follows what is known as the "Tail of the Dragon", 220 curves in 12 miles or something. I was able to catch the remnants of the lead group at this point and began working my way up to a group of 7 who were working the hill at my pace so I got in with them for the next 10 miles, until SAG 2. I filled my bottles and rode out with a tandem and 2 other riders, staying with them for 5 miles or so. They were riding faster than I needed to be going so I dropped off to let my legs catch up before the big hill of the day. I think it is around 14 miles of nearly all up hill; I'm not at home and don't have the exact numbers but something like 5,000 ft of climbing.
Cherohala Challenge ride report. Part 2.Mike P
Jun 15, 2003 5:17 PM
I hit the base of the climb on my own at mile 65 or so, my legs had recovered nicely and I began working my way up at a comfortable pace. The road affords a good look ahead and up so I was able to see a number of other riders as far as I could see. . . Carrots. I was able to catch and pass quite a few and actually began feeling stronger as the hill went on so I started pushing it and praying I didn't explode before the top. At several points the hill is brutal, people walking or stopping; I just tried to take in the scenery to keep me from thinking about it. The final 1/2 mile of the climb was painful.

Over the top and down the other side, finally. It's mostly downhill and at several points steep and curve filled; fun. There were several smaller, steep climbs before reaching the bottom so I was really beat when I reached the valley. I managed to catch another rider with around 10 miles to go. We were hit with a nice cool rain shower for 15 or 20 minutes. I was needing it because it was getting hot. Taking turns at the front we were able to make a pretty good pace to the finish.

Anyway, that's about it. I crossed the line with the ride clock displaying 6:51. I could not believe it! (My 7 hour goal was a stretch.) 6:42 on the bike, 112.5 miles, 16.6 avg. speed. No cramps, no major pains last night, and a nice little recovery ride this afternoon. All in all, a great ride.

Mike
Cherohala Challenge ride report. Part 2.Akirasho
Jun 15, 2003 6:54 PM
... it's good to set goals... even better to attain... better still to exceed!

Be the bike.
nice report, thanks!...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 16, 2003 5:43 AM
four members of our local team--"Team ExLax"--attended and were impressed with the support and safety of this one. they also reported stunning vistas unmatched even by Dahlonega. hope to do this one next year.

-J

ps. are you riding harpeth?
No Harpeth for me this year.Mike P
Jun 16, 2003 6:33 AM
JS,

I will not be able to make Harpeth. I was hoping things would allow for it but Michaels second round of chemo is hitting him pretty hard. Perhaps next year; I hear a lot of good comments about Harpeth.

The views from the Cherohala Skyway are not easily matched by anything else in the SE you can ride your bike on. Picture the view from the top of Brasstown. . . like that, only you're riding. Plus, there is very little traffic. If I had to choose, no question I would have to say I prefer the area around Robbinsville, NC, (Cherohala) more than I like riding in the Helen GA area. I have been making the 2 hour drive once every month or two for the last year.

Mike
your son will be in my thoughts. best wishes. nmJS Haiku Shop
Jun 16, 2003 6:46 AM
Thanks JS. BTW, I'm still in for the 7/18 partial 6-gap ride.nmMike P
Jun 16, 2003 9:37 AM
sounds good, meeee toooo...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 16, 2003 9:46 AM
looks like i might be able to get there in the AM, so we can get our ride done in time for mrs. haiku and i to raid the PI outlet in dawsonville. :)

will post thread as date draws closer to get everyone together and make solid plans.

-J
I'll look for the post. Also,Mike P
Jun 16, 2003 10:40 AM
I'm working on a map/elevation profile/cue for the ride; seems like a couple people interested in riding stated they are unfamiliar with the area.

Mike
would be helpful for me, too. if you need, i can...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 16, 2003 10:44 AM
map it if you provide the cue. i have the ms map program, but no topo option. let me know if i can do anything to help.
That sounds good. I'll send you the cue.Mike P
Jun 16, 2003 10:57 AM
What was the email address? cat5tattoo@???????.???
@yahoo.com (nm)JS Haiku Shop
Jun 16, 2003 11:08 AM
glad to hear it went well ...AllUpHill
Jun 15, 2003 7:38 PM
Mike, seems like you (or someone else?) posted a nice selection of pictures from the ride last year. If anyone's interested you can probably search for them. Congrats on breaking your target. Don't you hate struggling to catch back up to a group you just ... can't ... quite ... reach. I did Cherohala a couple years ago, and I don't remember much about it through the vail of delirium and pain! I seem to recall a bunch of wiley tandems attacking and causing general havoc along the first 10 miles or so, before the hills started filtering them out. Then the tail of the dragon is some fast fun riding. There's no shortage of motorcycles ...

I considered doing Cherohala again this weekend, but opted to try the Avery Trace road race and time trial, also held on saturday. Near Cookeville, it was a bit more of a drive, but I wanted to try something new. I have to say there is some quality riding to be found in eastern TN. Plenty of hills, and it seems like there's a TVA dam and reservoir every 5 miles, making for nice scenery.
Pics & report from last year, if the link works.Mike P
Jun 16, 2003 3:14 AM
AllUpHill "Cherohala Challenge June 15, 2002, Part 1" 6/22/02 6:48pm