Westside Wheel Up returns Saturday 

Long-running race supports B.C. Para-alpine team

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - On the west side The Westside Wheel Up is set to return for a 23rd year this Saturday, Sept. 17.
  • File photo
  • On the west side The Westside Wheel Up is set to return for a 23rd year this Saturday, Sept. 17.

Under the watchful eye of Phil Chew, it's been over a decade and a half of success for the Westside Wheel Up.

It's the 23rd year overall for the race, which is slated for Sept. 17, and the 16th year Chew has organized it. When he took over, it was to raise funds for original organizer Lester Clare, who had suffered a broken back.

"I took it over that year and it was a fundraiser for him and since then, it's been a fundraiser for athletes with disabilities," the former B.C. Para-alpine head coach said. "I retired from that (coaching) a couple years ago, but I kept my finger in the pie of supporting the athletes that were on the day up.

"I still kept it going to help them out."

Chew noted WORCA and the Whistler Cycling Club will benefit from the race as well, receiving portions of the proceeds in exchange for a little elbow grease.

"They do all the marshalling for the course and make sure it's safe," he said. "A lot of locals are doing a lot of the work to make it happen."

Registration costs are down this year and Chew hopes to recoup that with an impressive smorgasbord of raffle prizes.

"It used to be $25 and we took it down to $20 to make it an easier number. If people want to contribute to the cause, they can always buy extra raffle tickets," he said.

Chew anticipates having roughly $5,000 in prizes available, including a 2016-17 Whistler Blackcomb season pass, for the raffle on race day.

The course will be similar to what it was over the past couple seasons, and Chew praised WORCA for maintaining and improving the trails, making the race more enjoyable to ride each year.

"We have a good route. It's a fun route. WORCA has done a lot of improvements to different trails that are connected with this race and as a group gets older, they appreciate the fact that trails are getting to be in better shape," he said. "We're going to stick to the same route we had last year and the year before, going down Danimal instead of going across Beaver Path, which makes it more fun and makes it flow a little better."

While Chew intends to keep organizing the race for the foreseeable future, he noted he won't be involved forever.

"We want to keep it going," he said. "I'm 64 and I'm going to be 65 soon. I'm wondering 'Holy cow, I'm still doing it.' It means a lot to me because of the association with Lester but also the friendship I have in the valley here with a bunch of my friends that enjoy coming out to this race.

"In the future, I think WORCA will take over the race and will hopefully keep it going. I've still got a couple years left in me to contribute to the effort but as we go along here, we'll see what happens."

Register at the Whistler Brewing Company from 10 a.m. to noon on race day.

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