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Old 06-08-09, 07:56 AM   #1
Bob Wilson
when does this hill end?
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Cherohala Challenge question

I am signed up for the Cherohala Challenge and trying to decide between the metric and full route. I rode the metric route on Sat. without too much distress, although it was a long grind. The scenery was awesome! I was at the Santeetlah rest stop at the top and I met a cyclist that had just climbed the NC side of the Skyway. He said the NC side was waaay more difficult than the TN side, which got me nervous about committing to the full route, especially after all the climbing the route has before reaching the Skyway.

Any opinions about how both sides compare to each other. The only century I have completed is the 3-State 3 Mountain (or lately, 3-State 3 Inches of Rain) and am looking for another challenging century.
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Old 06-08-09, 09:22 AM   #2
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Depends on what you consider more difficult. The NC side gains about the same amount of elevation in 7 miles (the final miles to the summit) that the TN side gains in 12 miles. The NC side from miles 77 or so to the top (near mile 85) average about 6% with a couple spots approaching 12-13%. The TN side by comparison, though significantly longer, averages only 4% and never really gets over 6%.



The other thing that makes the NC side seemingly more difficult is that there is a climb over the shoulder of the mountain that then descends nearly back into the valley before turning and heading back up the range and Cherohala with no flats whatsoever in the transition. Almost like two back to back climbs in 20 miles with only a short descent in the middle for recovery.
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Old 06-08-09, 09:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by flyingheel View Post
Depends on what you consider more difficult. The NC side gains about the same amount of elevation in 7 miles (the final miles to the summit) that the TN side gains in 12 miles. The NC side from miles 77 or so to the top (near mile 85) average about 6% with a couple spots approaching 12-13%. The TN side by comparison, though significantly longer, averages only 4% and never really gets over 6%.
If the comparison is the climb from Tellico Plains to the top of the Skyway versus the climb from Lake Santeetlah to the top (which I understand the question to be) my impression is that the western climb is a bit more tiring.

The NC side might have a tougher eight mile stretch, but Tennessee climb is longer and has got to have at least 1500' more of climbing. Moreover, those rolling and sawtooth "breaks" don't provide much of a rest. They just add to the climbing.

I've never done an apples to apples comparison of the two, but that's my take.

If you can handle the western climb reasonably well, I think you should be OK with the full century, provided you pace yourself and have plenty left in the tank after 65 miles.
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Old 06-08-09, 08:08 PM   #4
Bob Wilson
when does this hill end?
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Flyingheel and VV,

Thanks for the information. I will shoot for the full route. I guess I better do some Burkhalter Gap hill repeats.
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Old 06-08-09, 10:26 PM   #5
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Fortunately, there's nothing that corresponds to the top of Burkhalter Gap. Just a lot of 6-8%.

I'm registering for the ride, too.
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