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Manitoba’s Viking Cross gives back

A muddy day of Cross for a cause in Gimli

Every bike race has a massive team of volunteers behind it, and each team of volunteers requires a strong leader to ensure the event’s success.

Hugo van Dun, organizer behind Gimli, Manitoba’s inaugural Viking Cross in October, along with his Woodcock Cycleworks team is to be thanked for the impact this event had, beyond destroyed bottom brackets and ruined washing machines! Hugo, Viking Cross race director, wanted to do something beyond the tape and barriers. Creatively, he helped raise over $2,600 to buy bicycles for children in need this Christmas!

Hugo van Dun unloading kids bikes. Photo: Roi Jones

From the Netherlands, Hugo arrived on the Southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg on a cross country hitchhiking trip in 2016. There, he and his wife built an off-grid home on his in-laws’ farm. The little Viking settlement of Gimli, Manitoba was about to be put on the bike racing map.

Don Sawatzky during the A Race. Photo: Jon Carson

About three years ago when he moved to Manitoba, Hugo thought it’d be cool to do some local bike races on the gravel roads. He caught the bike racing bug, and soon wanted to organize a race in his new little town. Three years later, Viking Cross 2019 emerged. He started racing ‘cross in the 2018 season and loved it. When he wasn’t busy organizing this season, he managed to race 5-7 races in the citizen category.

Nic Robitaille post-race mud smile. Photo: Jon Carson

An old, neglected motocross track outside of Gimli apparently screamed “cross course!” to Hugo, and so work began on mowing and course design. Hugo chatted with Woodcock Cycleworks owner, Tim, about doing more,and Tim suggested that they raffle off some of the bigger prizes their brands had provided. This ended up including gear from Santa Cruz, Thule and a even carbon fibre cross bike from Cube!

Nic Robitaille during the A Race. Photo: Jon Carson

During one commute into Winnipeg, which for Hugo is an hour each way from his off-grid home to work at the shop, Hugo thought that they should raise money for Evergreen Basic Needs Christmas Hamper and buy kids bikes for them.

“With our amazing brands donating such great prizes, I really wanted to find a way to give something back to the community” explained Hugo. Woodcock Cycleworks reinvested the $2,600 raised to donate 23 kids bikes to Evergreen’s Basic Needs Christmas Hamper.

From left to right – Elaine Gibbs (EBN), Hugo van Dun (Woodcock Cycle Works) – Tim Woodcock (Woodcock Cycle Works). Photo: Roi Jones

Hugo continued: Being able to donate 23 kids bikes to Evergreen Basic Needs’ Christmas Hamper brings everything full circle for me. Hopefully, we’ll see some of these kids racing their bicycles in the future!

Kids bikes at Evergreen Basic Needs. Photo: Roi Jones

October fifth, race day, was a miserable, frigid, and rainy day. Knee-deep mud and ever-worsening conditions made for a hard, hard ride. While two months later, racers across the five ability levels from 2-99 years old (including Hugo’s son) are still thawing out, our hearts are warmed knowing that 23 bikes will be waiting under trees in a couple of weeks!

VikingCross aftermath. Photo: Jon Carson