A cyclist races by the trailhead sign in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

A cyclist races by the trailhead sign in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Cyclists converge on Polar Vortex

A field of 44 local and visiting cyclists challenged the tight and narrow confines of the Polar Vortex course on a bright, chilly Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails.

While season awards were handed out after the race to highlight the hard work of local riders who competed in all five events — winners took home gourmet cheese and Kenai River Brewing beer — the event was dominated by outside competition, as a group of Anchorage riders rode their way to victories.

James Stull won the men’s race by completing the most laps in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 42 seconds, beating Brad Manderfeld of Anchorage by a scant three seconds. Clint Hodges of Anchorage finished third.

Anchorage rider Jessie Donohue was the fastest woman in 1:09:02, beating Amber Stull of Anchorage, who finished one less lap in 1:05:17.

“This is one of those races that are fun because you can race people from other places like Anchorage,” said Mike Crawford, who was presented the trophy for the season Chainwreck Cyclocross race series championship.

Crawford earned the 2017 Cyclocross title with four wins in five events, while Soldotna’s Jen Showalter earned the women’s Cyclocross title.

If there had been a hard luck award, it would’ve certainly gone to Jordan Chilson of Soldotna. Chilson used up two separate bikes — the first one had a chain pop off and wedge itself in the rear derailleur and the second, a borrowed bike from race organizer Mark Beeson, suffered a flat tire — before calling it a day with just over seven minutes remaining on the clock. Earlier this summer in the popular Cyclocross race, Chilson was the victim of a broken derailleur, but he still managed to kick off his cycling shoes and finish the 2.5-hour event with bare feet.

“He certainly seems to have bad luck,” Beeson said.

Stull, an avid cyclist and owner of Chain Reaction Cycles in Anchorage, made the trip down south for the weekend with wife, Amber, who finished second among women, and two children, 13-year-old Cadence and nine-year-old Dara. Stull said after the Anchorage Cyclocross season wrapped up last weekend, the Polar Vortex was the last true cycle event on the season schedule.

Plus, there was the potential appearance of the white stuff.

“We heard there might’ve been snow here,” Stull said. “It was snowing in Turnagain Pass.”

While the snow held off for the Saturday race, the temperatures sure didn’t. Riders wrapped themselves tightly with cold-weather gear to ward off the elements on the crisp day.

With the leaders turning eight- to nine-minute laps on the average, the pace was rapid from the outset. With the course winding its way from the Wolverine trailhead and halfway up and down the steep Goat hill, with a few other twists and turns sprinkled in, a lead trio of Stull, Manderfeld and Hodges led the way.

“I pulled out to the lead on one of the second or third lap, but (Stull) slingshotted by me on a climb,” Manderfeld said. “I was trying to get as close as I could at the end.

“If I got any closer he would just pour it on.”

Showalter finished out her season on a high, taking home the decorative season trophy, which features a bike chain on an engraved section of a tree.

“It’s super fun,” Showalter said. “Last year he had the snow, but either way it’s fun.”

1. James Stull – 1:02:39 (8); 2. Brad Manderfield – 1:02:42 (8); 3. Clinton Hodges III – 1:06:04 (8); 4. Mike Crawford – 1:08:23 (8); 5. Tony Eskelin – 1:08:26 (8); 6. Jessie Donahue – 1:09:22 (8) (1st place woman); 7. Eric Thomason – 1:10:11 (8); 8. Tyle Owens – 1:10:40 (8); 9. Amber Stull – 1:05:17 (7) (2nd place woman); 10. Amber Bethe – 1:05:34 (7) (3rd place woman); 11. Cadence Stull – 1:08:02 (7) (1st place youth); 12. Dave Edwards-Smith – 1:08:22 (7); 13. Jim Hall – 1:09:25 (7); 14. Jeff McDonald – 1:09:30 (7); 15. Jaime Nelson – 1:10:38 (7); 16. Rob Carson – 1:12:16 (7); 17. Bruce Ross – 1:12:30 (7); 18. Jen Showalter – 1:03:10 (6); 19. Mike Tallent – 1:03:41 (6); 20. Kailey Mucha – 1:03:41 (6); 21. Scott Huff – 1:05:21 (6); 22. Mark Forbes – 1:05:40 (6); 23. Morris Linett – 1:08:01 (6); 24. Landen Showalter – 1:08:10 (6) (2nd place youth); 25. Morgan Aldridge – 1:09:54 (6).

26. Jen Tabor – 1:10:12 (6); 27. Michelle Thomason – 1:13:24 (6); 28. Patty Moran – 1:13:38 (6); 29. Carl Kincaid – 1:01:27 (5); 30. Dana McDonald – 1:05:09 (5); 31. Madison McDonald – 1:07:06 (5) (3rd place youth); 32. Kelly Sederholm – 1:07:10 (5); 33. Darryl Kincaid – 1:10:09 (5); 34. Sean Raften – 1:10:10 (5); 35. Will Morrow – 1:12:23 (5); 36. Dara Stull – 1:15:14 (5); 37. Wade VonHeeder – 1:15:50 (5); 38. Dylan Hogue – 45:57 (4); 39. Jordan Chilson – 52:49 (4); 40. Robert Carson – 1:02:39 (4); 41. Jane Adkins – 1:04:22 (4); 42. Cindy Mille – 1:04:56 (4); 43. Ethan Hogue – 46:19 (3); 44. Audrey McDonald – 49:09 (2).

Racers make their way through the middle loops of the course in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Racers make their way through the middle loops of the course in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of cyclists take off in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of cyclists take off in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Cyclists converge on Polar Vortex

The field of cyclists take off in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Cyclists converge on Polar Vortex

The field of cyclists take off in the Polar Vortex bicycle race Saturday afternoon at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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