Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Celebrate Summertime

Summer is here, and there's plenty to explore outdoors. It's near Atlanta, near Birmingham, NEAR PERFECT! 
Northeast Alabama is surrounded by the North Alabama Wine Trail.
White Oak Vineyards is home to Southern Oak Wines. Located on dry hollow road in Anniston, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to 6, they are open for tours and tastings. Not far from I-20, Randal Wilson plants and produces year-round on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by valleys and the rolling foothills of the Appalachian. The Southern Oak Muscadine and fruit wines are sweet to semi-sweet, with dryer wines like their Norton also available. 
Not too far away, and in partnership with Laminack Vineyards, Fruithurst Winery is open from 10 to 6 Monday through Saturday. During the 1890s, wineries in Fruithurst produces 23,000 gallons of wine, but due to prohibition, the last of the wineries closed in 1919. In 2009, two cousins partnered to produce local muscadine a fruit wines, with a full service tasting area and manufacturing facility. They serve various fruit wines from Muscadine, to Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Blackberry. 
Founded in 2014, High Country Cellars is open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 6 for tastings. These had crafted and custom fruit wines are fermented, bottles and sold at High Country Cellars in Heflin. These local wine makers also host instructional wine making and beer brewing classes on Saturdays. They also serve up chocolate wines, available in small and large bottles. 
Other nearby wineries include Maraella Winery, Wills Creek Winery, and Jules J. Berta Winery. 
This year marks the second East Alabama Wine, Art and Cheese Festival at Smith Farms, just off Exit 205 on I-20, 350 Spirit Drive, Heflin, AL 36264. Join us Saturday, May 30, from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. Enjoy a day of music, arts, crafts, food, wine and beer from Alabama Wineries and Smith Farms. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 256-463-4400. 
For more area attractions and accomodations, visit www.VisitCalhounCounty.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Climb or the Cruise

 May 17, cyclists from all over gathered to take on the Challenge, The Cheaha Challenge. Family members and fans gathered with them to cheer them on.
At 7:30 a.m., after the JSU Pep Band played The National Anthem, Dr. Meehan sounded the gun to start the ride. It's not a race, but certain groups treat it as such, striving to beat their previous time or beat their buddy to the finish. This ride departs along 204, to Hwy 21, to White's Gap and Hwy 9. Some routes turn around or continue to 78 and to the scenic byway. There, routes vary with how much climbing is desired. "Should I climb HorseBlock and Cheaha? Could I go on to Adam's Gap?" 
For 2015, riders also had the option of adding climbs like Bain's Gap, Cottaquilla, and Chimney Peak. 
Timing also allowed event organizers to reward a King and Queen of the Mountain for climbing the fastest. 
New for 2015, community members also had the opportunity to participate in the first Ladiga Cruise, a 25 mile beginner ride to Piedmont and back. While there wasn't as much climbing, riders could go as fast or slow as they wanted. Kids to adults participated, and it was a lot of fun, with great rest stops and cheerleaders along the way. 
Some JSU students and sororities joined in the fun to cheer the riders to the finish. 
Around 5:00 P.M. riders were still peddling in from the distance challenges like the 124 mile ultra and 100 mile challenge. 
Even through rain, fog, and sun with humidity, riders conquered this challenge and enjoyed a great post ride party with music from Little Known Letter, Classic on Noble food and Cheaha Brewing drinks. 
Thanks to all the great volunteers for making it happen! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"The Toughest Ride in the South!"

For 23 years, cyclists have assembled in Calhoun County to climb to the highest point in Alabama,
Mt. Cheaha. In 2015, ride organizers will not disappoint, adding additional climbs to this already challenging route, holding true to the title of "the toughest ride in the south."
The picturesque campus of Jacksonville State University again hosts this renowned ride, which provides various route distances, from 24 and 44 mile routes to 100 and the ultra 124 mile route. Beginners could take on the 24 miles, but organizers have also added an easier 24 mile ride, "The Ladiga Cruise" for those new to cycling. It's highly encouraged that only experienced riders take on the ultra 124 mile route, featuring the grueling climbs of Horseblock, Cheaha, Adam's Gap, Bains Gap and Chimney Peak.  The ride includes more than 9700 feet of climbing, with scenic terrains and landscapes to "enjoy" along the way.
If cycling is not for you, join the City of Jacksonville to cheer on the participants and share the road, with routes from 204 in Jacksonville to Hwy 9 in White Plains, the scenic byway to Cheaha and Bains Gap.
The mass start begins at 7:30 a.m. from Jacksonville State's Coliseum and proceeds around the square, so come show your support, clap, cheer, smile, and wave them on their way to a fun but challenging day of cycling.
For more information, including registration information, visit www.cheahachallenge.com.