I was wondering if anyone has done the Cherohala Challenge, or ridden around that area. I am going to be in the area at the end of July, and was considering doing the Century route as a solo ride, but it looks like it’s easier to do it in reverse (ride the route clockwise, rather than counterclockwise) so I can do the majority of climbing at the front end of the ride. Any particular reason to do it the other way around?
I’m not familiar with the challenge route, but I’ve ridden the Skyway in both directions several years ago. It was early season so relatively low on traffic. The ride from Tellico Plains was brutal, the climb seemingly lasted about 30 miles and every time it seemed like it had to be over, it kept going. Heading in the other direction was much steeper but also much faster. It was one of the more enjoyable and scenic routes I’ve ridden.
I live nearby and have done it. It would be fine either direction, although the climb is different on the two sides of the mountain. The tellico plain side is more steady where the NC side has more varied grades.
The biggest issues you are going to have is water refills and moto traffic on the skyway and 129 (the dragon). Riding in reverse, if you get going early, may make both of these easier since the temps will be lower and motos dont get up early. Also, riding on a weekday will have less moto traffic.