Watton returns for second year as president
It was a good year for the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, but a challenging one as well.
"This past season was another great year for WORCA," said WORCA president Mike Watton, addressing the members who turned out to the groups annual general meeting on Thursday, Sept. 25.
"The weather was amazing once again, but as it turned out it was almost too much of a good thing, as we had to deal with a backcountry closure because of fire conditions for the first time in recent history."
Watton was referring to a fire ban that denied public access to all Crown lands and provincial parks for almost two weeks in late August and early September, closing most of Whistlers popular mountain bike trails outside of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. WORCA helped to enforce the closures keeping members informed, and by having a trail worker sweep one of the open trails at the end of every day.
One of the other directors who spoke at the meeting said Watton had to deal with challenges that no other WORCA president had encountered, and rose to the occasion every time.
The first challenge became apparent even before the season got underway as the group found itself without insurance. In todays business climate, no insurance company would provide insurance to a mountain bike club that hosts weekly races, provides trail maintenance, and runs clinics and camps.
WORCA solved the issue by turning to Cycling B.C. for insurance.
The insurance cost $15 per member, raising the total cost of membership to $30, or $10 more than the previous year.
There were benefits, however. The first was that all riders who already purchased race certification could buy passes for $15. The second was that the insurance enabled WORCA to sanction more events, including the Wednesday night downhill racing series.
Another challenge that emerged at the beginning of the season was the trail sabotage in the Emerald Estates area, which included sawed-off nails along roots and man-made obstacles.
WORCA worked with the residents from the area to reach an understanding about trail-building in the area, whereby residents are asked to go to WORCA if they have a problem with a trail rather than taking matters into their own hands.
In addition to fire closures, insurance woes, and trail sabotage, WORCA directors and volunteer members helped to organize the successful Whistler Summer Gravity Festival, complete the epic Comfortably Numb trail, repair and upgrade the popular River Runs Through It trail, and more.
"We had a strong board of directors this year, and that definitely helped to make it a great year," said Watton.