For the third straight year the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association has been hit with higher per member insurance costs, as reinsurance companies around the world have continued to increase their rates to offset losses from Sept. 11, natural disasters and a global recession.
Between 2002 and 2003, WORCAs insurance increased by almost $10 a member, from $5 to $15. From 2003 to 2004 insurance jumped again by almost $9, to about $24 per member.
This year the increase is about $2.50, to approximately $26.50 for each and every member. With more than a thousand members for each of the last three years insurance costs will likely be over $25,000 this year.
However, WORCA has pledged to keep membership fees the same as the 2004 season, at $40 for adults, $25 for youth and $90 for families.
"Were not going to be nickel and diming our members every year, if it comes down to it well raise it every couple of years instead. (Insurance) is probably going to keep going up, so well have to see how it pans out over the long haul," said WORCA President Grant Lamont.
Because more of the groups revenues will be going towards insurance this year, WORCA will have less money for trail projects. To make up for the shortfall, and to repair the damage caused by Januarys record rainfalls, WORCA has increased its Grant-In-Aid application.
"Our model works well with the CSP (Comprehensive Sustainability Plan) by encouraging people to ride more, and making cycling a way of life here, and we do provide good value on the ground in terms of community enrichment," said Lamont.
Last year WORCA spent more than $19,000 on trail maintenance with the help of member dues and various grants, as well as contributing hundreds of hours of volunteer work through its membership.
WORCA continues to get insurance through Cycling B.C., one of the only organizations that will still provide affordable coverage to mountain bike clubs and events. That insurance allows the club to host Loonie Races, Phat Wednesday races in the bike park, as well as various clinics and to sanction events like the Samurai of Singletrack and West Side Wheel Up.
WORCA doesnt know how much additional work will be required on the trails to repair flood and rain damage, but Lamont says it will be significant.
"Were seeing more trail damage, and we want to have enough (funding) in place to repair all the damage from the February rains. (Trails Director) Boyd (McTavish) is going around and making an inventory, and the major thing now is to assess the situation," he said.
"I know River (Runs Through It) was toasted, and a lot of the low-lying trails have damage. I took one look at River under water and immediately said we need to find another $10,000 in the budget for this."
Loonie Race date fixing meeting Friday
WORCA is hosting a Loonie Race date fixing meeting this Friday, Feb. 18 at the Riverside Café, starting at 7 p.m.
All businesses interested in hosting an event this year should attend to book their Thursday race date, as well as to link up with other potential sponsors if you want to reduce your costs. Corporate memberships are required, for $50.
WORCA looks to bring Sprockids to Whistler
WORCA is looking into the possibility of bringing the Sprockids program to Whistler in the future.
Sprockids, an internationally recognized program that was created by elementary school teacher Doug Detwiller on the Sunshine Coast, emphasizes mountain biking for fun, fitness and self-esteem, while simultaneously incorporating elements of biking into the school curriculum.
Local co-ordinators and volunteers will be needed to make this program available, and WORCA is hoping to host an open house in the next few months to teach people about the program and to gauge the level of interest.
"There are a lot of other (mountain bike programs) going on in Whistler, but this is specifically meant to go into the high school and there is definitely a need for it," said Lamont. "The main thing for us is that were focussing more on youth and putting more energy towards it."
WORCA will be hosting several dirt camps for youth over the summer, and is also planning to hold four clinics in the evening.
Bike swap date set
WORCA will be holding its annual bike swap on April 23 outside of Dustys in Creekside, offering people a place to buy and sell used mountain bikes and equipment.
Last year WORCA helped to sell more than 400 items, including several dozen bikes. WORCA keeps 10 per cent from sales under $1,000 and 15 per cent from sales of $1,000 and over, raising over $5,500 for WORCAs youth programs.
Volunteers are needed for this event. If you would like to help out with the sale, WORCA will be hosting an organizational meeting on Wednesday, March 2 at the Public Works Yard in Nesters, starting at 6 p.m.