The snow may be thick in Whistler’s woods, but the official start of the mountain bike season is only weeks away, with the annual WORCA Bike Swap on Saturday, April 19, followed by the first Loonie Race of the season on May 1.
Other events to follow include trail maintenance days, sign-on for Whistler’s youth dirt camps, the first Tuesday rider clinics, the first Phat Wednesday downhill series, and more — everything from past years, but more of it.
According to Whistler Off Road Cycling Association president Todd Hellinga, the club is in a better position this year to organize events after hiring a paid executive director in March to handle red tape and assist WORCA’s volunteer directors.
“It’s been working really well,” said Hellinga. “We all agreed that it was becoming a bit too much for volunteers to organize activities for a club with more than 1,000 members.
“(Executive director) Anne (Price) is getting things done, which is just what we needed to make the directors more productive. She’s a good fit — she’s passionate about biking, she’s familiar with the club and what we do, and has been a big asset. Things should run a lot smoother.”
WORCA is well-funded for this season, after almost 1,200 memberships were sold last season, although the bulk of the club’s budget is earmarked for trail maintenance projects. This year WORCA also received a $25,000 Community Enrichment Grant from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, mainly to help fund trail maintenance.
WORCA’s current board also met with some of its founding members last month to discuss the future of the association given the province’s new involvement in the sport through the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts (MOTSA). They reached a consensus that WORCA should refocus on maintaining and advocating for trails that are on Crown land to meet provincial standards.
“My impression is that it’s business as usual for us, (MOTSA) is not going to change the way we operate right now, and we haven’t seen the need to do anything different,” said Hellinga. “We’re going to keep working closely with both levels of government, the province and the municipality, and to keep building the sport. I think there was a little concern when the province got involved, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s all positive.”
The WORCA Bike Swap takes place on April 19 outside of Dusty’s in Creekside. Once again the swap will help to raise money for WORCA’s youth programs, including subsidizing eight dirt camps scheduled for the summer.