WORCA sets its sights on increasing public awareness New board and new agenda set at annual general meeting By Andrew Mitchell Electing officers, preserving land access and getting Whistler area resorts to pony up their fare share of trail maintenance costs were just three of the issues that the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) tackled at its annual general meeting on Oct. 7 at the Blackcomb Lodge. "Every year more and more cyclists are coming to Whistler, staying in the hotels, eating in the restaurants and drinking in the bars, all to ride our trails," says Chris Bishop, new president of WORCA and long-time member. "And yet most of the funding and labour for maintaining these trails is coming from WORCA members. We could use a little more support from the resorts and the community. Raising awareness of WORCA's initiatives is key to our success" WORCA, with a membership of more than 700 mountain bike fanatics, is famous for hosting weekly "Loonie Races" on local trails. Next year, competitors will pay a $2 entry fee, $1 of which will go into a pot that is split between the winning riders. Juniors are only eligible for prizes. The other loonie goes into the WORCA war chest to pay for trail maintenance, hire coaches, organize races and support the association's political agenda — the stuff that nobody knows about, according to Bishop. "It's getting to the point where the Loonie Races have a gravity of their own, they practically run themselves," says Bishop. "Now it's time to get the word out that we do a lot more for local mountain biking than run the Loonie events." Highlights of last years' activities, presented at the general meeting, include: o Spending $6,000 to hire two individuals to work on trails such as Beaver Pass, River Runs Through It, Binty's and Green Lake Loop o Getting permission from First Nation's people to build a section of the Sea to Sky Trail through their land o Drawing up a constitution and a set of bylaws for WORCA members, which was adopted at the general meeting by a large majority o Holding six trail nights, where members volunteered their time to help maintain local trails o Raising $260 and four crates of food for the local food bank. By increasing the awareness of association members and the public of WORCA's activities, Bishop hopes to give the sport a larger voice in the community. "If there's going to be any stability in Whistler for this sport, we have to get organized, get involved and work together," says Bishop. WORCA recently conducted a survey of its membership in order to get a profile of the average WORCA rider. This profile will be used to help the board of directors when dealing with sponsors, regional governments and other community groups. More than 350 riders responded to the survey, and the results were one of the main topics at the general meeting. According to that profile, an average WORCA member is a hard-riding, single-track Whistler socialite with a dollar to spare, but not a whole lot more. When asked how often they ride, 53 per cent of respondents said that they ride four or more times per week, and 35 per cent said two to three times per week. Forty-six per cent of respondents said they prefer the West Side, which is known for technical single-track routes. When asked why they compete in Loonie Races, 46 per cent said it was a social activity. Another 31 per cent said it was for fitness and to improve their cycling skills. When asked why they joined WORCA, an overwhelming 68 per cent said it was to compete in Loonie Races, compared to a measly 8 per cent who joined to support trail maintenance. The average annual income before taxes for 33 per cent of WORCA members is less than $26,000. For another 26 per cent, their annual income falls between $26,000 and $35,000. The 1999-2000 WORCA Board of Directors President - Chris Bishop Treasurer - Keith Bennett Planning - Colin Ernst Youth - Lloyd Thomas Director at Large - David Roberts Membership - Ross McGaw Public Relations - Dave Burch Director of Trails - Tony Horn The position of Director of Race is still open. Any member who is interested in this position should contact WORCA at 938-9893.