Bike rider

A rider crosses the finish line during the Cheaha Challenge time trials starting at Piedmont's Eubanks Welcome Center and ending at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville.

Around 1,000 cyclists will swarm Calhoun County today (Sunday) as a part of the Cheaha Challenge cycling competition, and their presence will be given priority on several area roads.

“It’s for the safety of not only the cyclists, but for volunteers as well,” said organizer Brooke Nelson regarding the necessary road closures. “We don’t want to cause any accidents.”

Park Avenue next to Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville, where the competition is set to begin and end, will be closed all day today.

Bains Gap Road at McClellan will be closed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., while Jacksonville’s Chimney Peak Tower Road will be closed from noon until 7 p.m. Lake Chinnabee Road will be closed from 10 p.m. on Saturday until 2 p.m. today.

Cyclists will also travel on Alabama highways 9 and 281 and U.S. 78 as they make their way to and from Mount Cheaha, although the highways will remain open.

Cheaha Challenge cyclists are expected to begin their courses at 7:30 a.m. and be on the roads most of the day today.

Nelson encouraged motorists to be mindful of the cyclists.

“We just want people to be aware and share the road,” Nelson said.

The event is the 27th Annual Cheaha Challenge. The competition features several courses, including a 100-mile version that serves as a qualifier for the Union Cycliste International Gran Fondo World Championship, which will be held in Poznan, Poland in September.

The event was instituted in 1993 and began its current run of starting and finishing on the campus of Jacksonville State University in 2014.

Contact Staff Writer Daniel Mayes at 256-235-3561 or On Twitter @DMayes_Star.