Mountain bike group focuses on youth programs
The schedule for the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association has been set, and its shaping up to be an even bigger year for the club than last years record-breaking season.
But first, a little good news and bad news. The good news is that the price of adult memberships has gone down to $15 and youth memberships to $10. The bad news is that the membership fee no longer includes insurance.
"Our usual insurers wouldnt cover us basically because theyre getting out of mountain biking," explains WORCA president Mike Watton. "Most companies have dropped mountain biking as well, so we didnt have a lot of choices."
This year, WORCA will insure riders through Cycling B.C. at a cost of $15 per member. That brings the cost of an average membership up to $30 for adults and $25 for youth.
If you dont participate in WORCA Loonie Races or WORCA clinics, then you dont have to pay that fee. Similarly, if you already compete in B.C. Cup and other Cycling B.C. races, your insurance will already be covered by your $80 certification fee. Also, Cycling B.C. insurance makes it easier for WORCA to host events on private property, like the Whistler-Blackcomb bike park, and includes personal injury coverage.
"For some people the cost is going down, but for a lot of people its going up. We hope that doesnt turn anybody off," says Watton.
He points out that membership is still a good value, and WORCA will contribute more than $10,000 for trail maintenance this year, plus supplying thousands of volunteer hours to keep the trail network in shape. Membership also means discounts at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and with participating merchants, entry into special clinics, and the ability to participate in Loonie Races.
Last year the number of members in WORCA topped out at 1,035, almost double the previous year. WORCA credits much of that growth to a partnership with Whistler-Blackcomb, and to growing community awareness of the organization.
In addition, attendance at WORCAs weekly Loonie Races was up by more than 60 per cent over the previous year.
Watton is confident that there is still room to grow. Three more sponsors have lined up to host Loonie Races this year, which means a total of 21 events on the calendar this summer. The races will start on May 1, and wrap up on Sept. 18.
In conjunction with Whistler-Blackcomb, there will also be a Friday night Loonie race series in the downhill park this year for WORCA members. The formats and courses will change from week to week, and the details are still being worked out.
In addition to an expanded race schedule, WORCA is focussing more on youth development this year, and has partnered with the Single Track Off Road Mountain Bike Club (STORMBC), to offer more programs and incentives to young riders in the community.
"Id say the biggest change for WORCA this year is our emphasis on youth," says Watton.
Every second Loonie Race will include an Under 15 youth series component, with STORMBC riders and other kids from the community invited to participate.
For taking part in the races, and in other community initiatives, they can earn WORCA/STORMBC bucks, which can be used towards WORCA and STORMBC programs and clinics.
"They dont just get the bucks for finishing in the top-three. If they stop in a race to help someone fix a flat, theyll earn some bucks. If they volunteer in the community, in events like Pitch-in Day, theyll earn bucks," says Watton.
"The goal is to gets kids out and riding and having fun. The more kids out there riding, the better."
One or two lucky youths could also benefit financially this year. An $8,000 grant-in-aid will go to one local contractor to maintain trails, and an additional $2,000 youth contract will go towards a young trail worker over the summer months.
WORCA will once again be hosting four youth clinics this summer under STORMBCs certified coaches.
As well as programs for youth, WORCA will continue to provide members with hucking clinics, freeride clinics and women only clinics.
On the trail front, WORCA is looking for a grant to do more work on A River Runs Through It, Whistlers most popular trail with more than 14,000 rider visits in a three-month period last summer.
Dan Markle will continue work on his Foreplay/Secret Trail, as a new bridge is constructed over Wedge Creek by the RMOW.
Regular trail maintenance nights will also be held throughout the season, starting with WORCAs trail sweep day on May 4.
On the sweep day, volunteers from WORCA walk local trails and clear any logs or debris left lying on the trails after the winter season. More details on this annual event, which usually includes a pancake breakfast, are still to come.
Some dates to keep in mind this season:
First Loonie Race, hosted by Gone Bakery in Alpine May 1
WORCA Bike Swap May 3
WORCA Trail Sweep May 4
Calendars will be available online at www.worca.com, or can be printed out for free at Jodys Internet Café. You can also call the event hotline at 1-604-938-9893, or email email@example.com.