With more than 900 members, the Toronto Bike Club calls itself Canada’s largest recreational cycling club. The Fort St. John Blizzards claim to be British Columbia’s Largest Bike Club with 130-plus members.
This year the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) boasted more members than both those clubs combined, with over 1,100 members on the rolls this year. This was also the sixth time in the last seven years that WORCA has boasted more than 1,000 members, which would easily qualify the association as one of the largest cycling clubs in the world. Per capita, about one out of every 10 residents is a member of WORCA.
However, despite WORCA’s success in finding members, it was a challenging year for the group in many ways, from deciding where to find insurance, to maintaining trails, to hosting Loonie events.
“There was a lot of discussion on insurance at the start of the year, and in the end we decided to go with Cycling B.C. this year,” said outgoing president Joe Lyons at WORCA’s annual general meeting last week.
“What’s been happening is that the cost of insurance has gone up, up and up the last few years, but it looks like that’s going to stop and that we’ll be able to shop around next year.”
WORCA had two options for insurance this year, Cycling B.C. or the newly formed Grass Roots Mountain Bike Association. Both insurers were comparable in price, but imposed new requirements on WORCA when it comes to hosting events like Loonie Races and the Phat Wednesday downhill series.
WORCA chose Cycling B.C. because there were fewer new requirements, but will re-evaluate insurance again next year.
This past year the cost of insurance for each member was about $27.50, which means that junior memberships were subsidized by about $2.50, and family memberships by $20.
Another new development that complicated the season was a new municipal policy that required WORCA and Loonie race sponsors to file a booking for every Loonie event this season.
Trails are also becoming an issue as the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts (MOTSA) is taking a greater interest in mountain biking, making an inventory of trails and enforcing provincially approved trail standards. As well, WORCA has committed to the Whistler 2020 sustainability framework, which means trails will need to be built and maintained to environmental standards.
Virtually every director position required more work than ever before, partly due to the association’s growing membership and partly due to the increase in regulation and red tape.