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Annual bike race moves to JSU

01/15/2014

The starting line of the 22nd annual April 6th Cheaha Challenge bicycle race is moving from Piedmont to JSU. This move is expected to increase the campus’s exposure and build its positive image.

The race is being moved because organizers are hoping to attract more participants, which will be too many for the Piedmont Civic Center to service.

The race is expected to begin at the JSU Pete Matthews Coliseum. The coliseum will provide showers, bathrooms, and parking for the estimated 600 cyclists.

“This is a great opportunity for the entire community,” said university President William Meehan. “The event will of course bring attention to our university and city, but it will also give opportunities for student to work as well.” Race events will be held all weekend. There will be a free dinner Friday night and a festival Saturday, which will feature food, music, activities for children, vendors and artwork.

Professional races will be held Saturday night. Classic on Noble is providing a meal Sunday night after the race.

Dr. Carmine Dibiase, a JSU English Professor and frequent cyclist in the Challenge, says that the ride is so difficult because Mt. Cheaha contains 7,000 feet of vertical climbing in the middle 50 miles of the race. The whole length is 102 miles, but shorter routes are available, down to 26 miles. The race is called “the toughest ride in the south,” and cyclists come from across the country and many other countries.

“Those who see the race and those who take part in it, even those who only hear about it or read about it in the newspapers, might decide to come to school here or to encourage their children to come to school here,” says Dibiase. “Cycling - even, and perhaps especially, mountain biking - is growing in popularity here. We have… natural resources: beautiful rolling country roads and thousands of acres of woods.”

Those interested in joining the JSU cycling club can contact Dr. Dibiase at cdibiase@jsu.edu.

The race is sponsored by the Northeast Alabama Bicycling Association.

Registration on www.active.com to participate in the race will open soon and will be available through the morning of the race. There might be an extra fee for late registration.

The Health, Physical Recreation, and Recreation club will provide volunteers to work the race. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact department head Gina Mabrey at gmabrey@jsu.edu.

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