The first Cycle Sequatchie will draw cyclists to the Sequatchie Valley Oct. 5, but is planned as an annual event. Photo courtesy of Sequatchie County-Dunlap Chamber of Commerce.
Feb. 27, 2019 – A long bicycle ride, the length of the Sequatchie Valley, may soon become a highlight of the local event calendar. Last year's Chattanooga Challenge is moving to Dunlap this year, reconfigured as the Cycle Sequatchie bicycle ride, planned for Oct. 5, 2019.
Faced with the challenges of traffic control in an urban area, organizers wanted to move the cycling event from Chattanooga to someplace in the local area that would be affordable and would run through some really nice scenery. The Sequatchie Valley seemed to be the logical choice.
Bikeways of the Scenic South speaks highly of the newest cycling event in the region:
The Sequatchie Valley is an incredibly well-defined area with two massive ridges flanking fertile farmland and a meandering river running down the middle. It is also an incredibly well-preserved region, in terms of both natural landscape and historic character. With stunning mountain backdrop scenery, miles of low-traffic farm roads, and an abundance of historic landmarks, the Valley is the perfect playground for cycling adventures!
Cycling tourism is becoming very popular in the United States, and local organizers are excited about catching some of that business.
“People are spending money everywhere on bikes,” Janis Kyser said recently. Kyser is the executive director of the Sequatchie County-Dunlap Chamber of Commerce, which is helping organize the event. “People travel the entire world to cycle, spending as much as $8,000 on a bike.”
A website called Ride With GPS already has Cycle Sequatchie listed on their calendar:
Celebrate the end of the cycling season Saturday, October 5th, with a ride through the most picturesque valley in the Southeast followed by a farm-fresh feast and outdoor expo. Come see why Sequatchie Valley is Chattanooga's cycling playground! #CycleSequatchie
Cycle Sequatchie will launch from the Valley Fest property in Dunlap, but participants will be able to choose among four different routes, ranging from the 16-mile Sequatchie Stroll to the 78-mile Cumberland K.O.M. Challenge.
For an additional fee, cyclists may enjoy a Sunday dinner at Sequatchie Cove Farm, complete with fresh apple cider from Wheeler's Orchard.
Kyser believes Cycle Sequatchie will boost the valley's economy by providing exposure for local attractions and businesses.
“If they need a drink of water, they can stop at Stone Cave,” she explained. “If they need a break, they can stop at the Coke Ovens. My interest is that this has a great potential to bring tourism to our town.”
The event is being developed as a cooperative effort among the three counties in the valley, with Marion County paying for the initial study done by Shannon Burke of Velo View Bike Tours, and the Dunlap Chamber securing a state tourism grant to create information kiosks for the route.
Marion County is using a state grant to mark the route with signs that will be put up in the next few months, and local businesses, including Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative (BTC) and Citizens Tri-County Bank, are getting involved, too, in support of an event that could end up in the pocket planner of every serious cyclist.
The 78-mile Cumberland K.O.M. Challenge is currently the longest route of the event.