The biggest mountain bike association in Canada got a little bit bigger this year.
The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) celebrated another record-breaking season for membership at its annual general meeting Thursday, Sept. 18, with 1,826 members — about a dozen more than the previous year. The club has set new membership records every year but one since 2003.
Adult memberships were down slightly this past season with WORCA now offering one-time memberships for select events, but the association also signed up a record number of youth this year — mostly driven by WORCA's nine weeks of sold-out Dirt Camps. There were over 360 youth members aged 12 and under, and 121 aged 13 to 17.
But while it was nice to see membership increase yet again, club president Jerome David said the highlights of the season were hosting the association's 25th anniversary race and party in Creekside, where founding members were recognized with lifetime passes, as well as the beginning of WORCA's long-awaited return to the alpine.
It was a year marked with many highlights, including:
• Approval for a new climbing and descending trail on Sproatt Mountain that will include a loop in the alpine. The trail will be between seven and eight kilometres long once completed, which is expected to take at least three years. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is building the uphill climb for the new trail, and WORCA, which is on its way to raising $206,000 for its part of the project, is building an intermediate level descent;
• Receiving confirmation from BC Parks that it will look at mountain biking in the future in the Singing Pass and Spearhead region. "That was big for WORCA," said Emily Mann, WORCA's director of planning. "It was literally 25 years in the making to get to that point;"
• The start of an inventory of local trails in cooperation with Cascade Environmental after a private landowner banned bikes on a large property off Alta Lake Road last year;
• The hosting of events and races this year, including Monday Night Rides, Thursday Toonie Rides and special events like the Sea to Sky Enduro Series, the Wonder Woman women's race, the 25th anniversary race, and more;
• Over $38,000 has been spent to date on trail maintenance along with $17,000 on equipment, which includes a special motorcycle for trail builders that can be used to haul dirt and tools, and has fat tires to reduce impact on the terrain. This is the first year of work since WORCA amended its constitution to allow for trail building and maintaining the trail network;
• The rerouting and rebuilding of a section of Middle Danimal, called Down the Middle, to provide riders with an alternative entrance to Lower Sproatt that doesn't cross into private land. There's also a new climbing trail called A Cut Above to connect riders to upper Beaver Pass that can be accessed off of Whip Me Snip Me;
• The Trails Working Group is in discussion regarding the construction of more beginner and intermediate singletrack trails, similar to Lost Lake Park, in the south end of Whistler's boundary, although talks are only preliminary at this point.
Trail director Tim Andrew also encouraged riders to check out the new section of the alpine trail, which is between Sproatt Creek and Pura Vida off the Flank Trail. A bridge is visible on the uphill side of the trail. "We want members to go up and have a look, and get stoked on it," he said. "Maybe they'll come back and volunteer their time, or donate some money to it."
Financially, WORCA finished this year with a surplus of about $23,300, although more trail work is underway and the balance of the money will likely be used next spring to pay the annual insurance bill. As well, WORCA still has one event up its sleeve to organize, the annual Halloween Toonie on Oct. 30. Visit www.worca.com for details.
The board stayed mostly the same this year. Returning for 2015 are Jerome David (president), Craig MacKenzie (director of youth), Gloria Addario (treasurer), Benoit Renault (director of membership), Emily Mann (director of planning), Nina Arnold (director of XC and Toonies), and Tim Andrews (director of trails). Mandy Rousseau stepped down as director of skills, but moved to the director of fundraising position, while Hilary Davison moved from fundraising to director at large. Clark Lewis, the director of downhill and special events, moved to the vice president's position.