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WORCA celebrates turnaround year for organization



Record membership, larger turnouts among 2002 highlights

What a difference a year can make.

At WORCA’s annual general meeting on Sept. 26, the atmosphere was appropriately festive. In the past year the mountain bike advocacy group almost succeeded in doubling membership from 583 members in 2001 to a record 1,035 in 2002, thanks largely to a new partnership with Whistler-Blackcomb.

Attendance at Loonie Race events was up by more than 60 per cent compared to the previous year, and corporate sponsorship for the group was off the charts at $5,050 – 400 per cent higher than they had projected based on past numbers.

Various events and clinics were also well attended, especially the annual bike swap. The spring bike swap, which raises money for WORCA’s youth programs, netted $3,152, compared to the $1,500 that was projected.

WORCA, working with the municipality, was also successful in getting Section 102 status – official provincial recognition – for the North Secret Trail / Foreplay trail, which is still under construction.

WORCA’s trail maintenance activities have also increased, with approximately 470 volunteer hours and 500 paid hours from WORCA’s own work crew.

Perhaps one of the most telling statistics to show what kind of a year WORCA had is the bottom line. At last year’s annual general meeting, WORCA had exactly $2 left in the bank after springing for refreshments that evening; this year the group finished the season with an unprecedented $11,681.

"I feel bad about that, we’re supposed to be a non-profit group," joked Tony Horn, who stepped down as president at the meeting. "That’s what happens when you put a small businessman and entrepreneur in charge."

Leading up to this year, WORCA was concerned about the declining interest in the group and its activities within the community.

Some of the issues they felt were responsible for lower numbers include the growing popularity of freeriding in the valley and a widely held perception that the key focus of the organization is the weekly Loonie Races.

To combat this, the group looked for new ways to connect with the freeride community and get the message across that WORCA’s primary concerns are still mountain bike advocacy and trail maintenance.

This spring they got an unexpected boost from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, which began actively promoting the organization’s activities by offering substantial discounts to WORCA members and allowing the group to use the bike park facilities for camps, races and programs.

"I think we finally got it across that we’re not just a bunch of people who drink beer and do Loonie Races, although we do do that too," said Horn.