With the first Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) Toonie Ride of 2014 set for Thursday, May 1, mountain bikers can officially celebrate the start of the riding season.
If they haven't been already, that is.
"I think it started almost a month ago. I had to fight off people wanting to go for rides because I was still in ski mode for a little bit," laughed WORCA president Jerome David. "The enthusiasm seems to be pretty high, for sure.
"We're just hoping that everybody enjoys a fun and safe mountain bike season."
This year marks WORCA's 25th anniversary, and it comes on the heels of a 2013 season that saw record turnout at Toonie Rides and membership eclipsing 1,800. This summer will once again feature a full Toonie schedule and some special events, including a fun cross-country race and after-party at Dusty's on June 15 to mark the association's quarter-century of existence.
"That's a huge milestone for this organization," said David. "We're really stoked about that."
A special 25th anniversary raffle, with more than $7,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, is ongoing until the anniversary party, when draws will take place. Tickets can be purchased at any WORCA event until then.
WORCA also hosted another well-attended edition of its annual Bike Swap last weekend. The sale raised approximately $10,000 for WORCA youth programs, and David said the event was a big hit with local cyclists as expected.
"It was busy again and we're very happy," he said. "From what I saw it was a success again."
Although winter has been lingering on some of the local trails, David said reports have been coming in from riders indicating that routes at the south end of Whistler and in the Lost Lake area are ready, while others have been investigating trails on the west side as the snow disappears.
The first volunteer trail day had originally been scheduled for April 27, but it has been moved to Saturday, May 3. Those interested in helping out are asked to meet at Day Lot 4 at 9 a.m., or to join WORCA for the season's first trail maintenance evening on May 13.
"That first trail sweep (on May 3), we'll send people out and observe if there's trail damage, wood structure damage, or a deadfall across," said David. "It'll be information gathering, and a little bit of work on one or two trails we know we can use a few people for."
In April, WORCA learned the municipality had bumped up the biking group's share of Community Enrichment Program funding to $30,000 this year, and that money will help complete the long-awaited Sproatt alpine trail project.
"We're working with community stakeholders such as the Alpine Club of Canada and the municipality to manage that area up there and develop a nice, epic trail that goes up into the alpine, (taking riders to) awesome views we've been longing for for quite a long time," said David.
Visit www.worca.com for the full season schedule and other club information.