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WORCA celebrates another record season

Largest mountain bike club in the world will co-host IMBA conference in June



The biggest mountain bike club in the world got a little bigger this year, with WORCA registering over 1,000 members for the fourth consecutive year, and for the fifth time in six seasons.

Turnouts for weekly Loonie races and the Phat Wednesday Downhill Series were also up, although exact numbers won’t be tabulated until the WORCA annual general meeting on Thursday, Oct. 13.

"I think it was another great season for the club," said President Grant Lamont. "We’re still waiting for numbers but I think we set a few new records as far as memberships and race turnouts go. There are still some mountain bikers that aren’t members and should be, but we’re getting more and more every year."

Lamont was not able to secure mountain bikers access to trails in Garibaldi Park, but said he would be able to devote more time towards that goal – the original reason WORCA was founded over 15 years ago – over the winter.

Lamont plans to run again for the post of WORCA president: "I could be challenged at the AGM, but I always thought I would be running again. I think it’s a job you should be prepared to hold for about two years, and it takes a little while to get things going."

One of the biggest achievements for this season was doubling the trail maintenance budget to approximately $25,000. Including volunteer labour from trail maintenance events and in-kind work donated to WORCA, the total value of trail maintenance could easily be double what was spent.

Most of that funding came from a $24,400 community enrichment grant from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the Community Foundation of Whistler contributed $2,800 to a trail maintenance project on Lower Sproatt through the Environmental Legacy Fund.

Another achievement was the regular hosting of mountain bike clinics, organized by freeride director Lena Horn. That included two clinics sponsored by the Whistler Mountain Bike Park with coach Daamiann Skelton.

While insurance went up again this year by another $2.50, to $26.50 per person, WORCA kept membership prices the same. However, a larger grant from the municipality for trail maintenance compensated for the loss of dues.

The good news for 2006 is that WORCA is in good shape financially. Some big receipts are still coming in for insurance and trail maintenance projects, but as of Oct. 2 the club still had more than $25,000 in the bank. Some of that money will likely be set aside for special trail maintenance projects and equipment next season.

Another positive for next year is the fact that WORCA is the host club for the 2006 International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) conference, along with Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and the municipality.

WORCA will not have to contribute financially to the conference, but members will be asked to guide tours for conference participants, and host a large trail maintenance event.

"We’re the biggest club IMBA’s got by a long way, and that’s one of the reasons they decided to come to Whistler," said Lamont.

The conference could potentially attract thousands of riders to the village next June. Not only will it boost the local economy but it will also reinforce the importance of mountain biking and WORCA in relation to Whistler.

Lamont recently returned from Interbike in Las Vegas, where he was surprised by just how well known Whistler is becoming. "Everyone I met said ‘oh, you’re from Whistler, you’re so lucky,’" he said. "The bike park is pretty famous by now, but they also know all about our trails, our trail programs, and they all wish they had what we have."

The AGM takes place on Thursday, Oct. 13 at Spruce Grove Field House, starting at 7 p.m. WORCA’s directors will make their reports before opening the floor to questions and discussion. After a short break members will elect the board for 2005-06.

The usual food and refreshments will be provided, and all members are encouraged to come out and participate.

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