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Flame cannons and cyclocross: DarkCross kicks off Manitoba CX season

Red River Co-op Speedway hosts eighth annual nighttime cyclocross race

The Lights Unlimited Megabowl with Fire Cannons by LT Wiens Fabrications. Photo: Darryl Neustaedter-Barg

The first race of cyclocross season is always exciting. New equipment, warmer weather and the months of anticipation leading up to the first race all add up to a great weekend between the tape. Now add flame cannons.

Darkcross cyclocross
Peter Loewen heads a group of riders up the rock garden run-up. Photo: Gregory McNeill

DarkCross, the first race of the 2018 Manitoba cyclocross season, has always been a bit more dramatic than other races. The night time race spices up cyclocross racing with added element of racing under the stars, and under the flood lights of Red River Co-op Speedway. For the eighth edition of DarkCross, organizers ratcheted up the excitement even further by adding a pair of fire cannons to the course.

“We try really hard to keep things fresh and exciting,” said Race Director Chris Huebner of the Dark Red Racing Cycling Club. “It is extremely gratifying that after eight years of hosting this event, we are still able to elicit surprised gasps of excitement from both racers and spectators.”

Judging by the crowd gathered around the fire cannons, which arrived at the venue courtesy of LT Wiens Fabrications to help light the farther, darker side of the DarkCross course, the new feature was a highlight.

DarkCross Cyclocross
Danick Vandale leads Mitch Ketler around the LT Wiens Fire Cannons. Photo: Andrea Tetrault

A new partnership with Shimano Canada helped Dark Red Racing Cycling Club turn DarkCross up a notch this year, making the season opener a big prairie cyclocross party at the Red River Co-op Speedway venue.

“I’m not sure how we’re going to top it in 2019,” said Huebner. “But come to the Speedway next September to find out.”

DarkCross Cyclocross
Top two finishers in the Cat 1/2/3 Women’s Race, Caitlyn Roy (L) and Rebecca Man (R). Photo: Sara Man

Danick Vandale (Silber Pro Cycling) took the victory in the Mens Cat 1/2 race ahead of Mitch Ketler (Applewood Garneau p/b Smart Savvy) and Jason Wiebe (Prairie Fire Racing). In the Womens Cat 1/2/3 Race, teammates Caitlyn Roy and Rebecca Man, both of Team Manitoba, pushed the pace all race long before Roy rode to the win on the final lap. Chloe Penner (Team Manitoba) rounded out the podium in third place.

Full results for the 2018 DarkCross Cyclocross race can be found at Darkcross.ca

DarkCross Cyclocross
Local brewer Jeremy Wells (L) created a special beer for the event— Brazen Hall Rowdy Rooster Belgian IPA. photo: Andrea Tetrault
DarkCross Cyclocross
Milo Del Bigio hits the Cousin Thomas Grandstand Run-Up during the Open Race. Photo: Rod Colwell