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WORCA’s winning season

Mountain bike club celebrates at annual general meeting



There was new business and old business, all the formalities of Robert's Rules of Order and the B.C. Society's Act that dictate how non-profit organizations should run. But the Whistler Off Road Cycling Associations' first order of business has always been having fun on bikes and in that sense business this year was exceptionally good.

For one thing the organization increased its membership to 1,500, beating the previous record by around 280 members. And that's despite a slightly lower turnout to the weekly Toonie Rides (formerly Loonie Races) this year.

Speaking of which, there were fears at the start of the season that the economic downturn would negatively impact the interest in sponsoring Toonie Rides, but while some sponsors did pull out because of the cost there were others waiting in the wings to take their place and WORCA managed to host 22 races this year - one more than previous years.

And while the trail maintenance budget looked tight heading into this season - the result of spending over $70,000 of reserve funds the previous year to wrap up some outstanding projects around town - an unexpected grant from the National Trails Coalition of $25,000 and $5,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Environment Fund helped to build the trails budget back up to an estimated $40,000.

President Todd Hellinga stepped down after two years in the position, content that the goal of raising WORCA's profile in the community was accomplished.

"This is the first year I think that people really saw WORCA as a whole," he said. "For years people associated us with the Loonie Races, and we really tried to push through that. Now our youth dirt camps are super-successful, the Phat Wednesday series had to cap riders at 200. The number of juniors and women were up, the Wild Willies rides were really popular and very important for all the beginner riders for learning skills and meeting people. We put on our own skills clinics, and numbers were huge once again and a lot bigger than we expected."

Hellinga also touched on WORCA's original mandate from 1989, which was to secure access for bikes on more trails in Garibaldi Park. Progress is slow, he said, but it is being made.

"Nothing moves fast at that level and nobody should expect it to be," said Hellinga.

Hellinga also gave high marks to Worcapalooza, WORCA's 20 th anniversary party, for raising WORCA's profile in the community.

Hellinga was replaced as president by John Blok, who had served the board in past years. Although Blok will be spending more time on his road bike this year training for Ironman, he said it was important to be involved.