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Trails, membership key initiatives for WORCA in 2002

Aside from having two bucks left in the bank, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) has nothing but good things to say about this past year, and bright aspirations for next year. WORCA held its annual general meeting on Sept.

Aside from having two bucks left in the bank, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) has nothing but good things to say about this past year, and bright aspirations for next year.

WORCA held its annual general meeting on Sept. 27 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, electing new board members and discussing where the club?s energies should be spent next season. The hot topics were trails, membership, volunteerism, races, fund-raising and building relationships within the community.

"WORCA has a lot of momentum right now, especially from the trails perspective, and I want to make sure that continues," says Tony Horn.

Horn, director of trails for the past two years, was elected president.

"I think the public relations side has done a pretty good job letting people know what we?re up to where trails are concerned. There are definitely things we have to do, but we?re on the right track."

WORCA was founded in 1989 as a trail advocacy group and in recent years its mandate has expanded significantly to include trail maintenance, among other things. This year their trail focus expanded even further into the realm trail building, with a west side real estate developer funding the completion of Foreplay, formerly known as Secret Trail.

Duane Jackson and Bill Kunzweiler are currently developing the lands, commonly known as the B.C. Rail Lands on the west side of Alta Lake Road. Because their development interfered with three well-used trails, Danimal, Beaver Pass and 99er, they contacted WORCA to see if they could offer anything to the mountain bike community to make up for the lost trails.

As a remedy, they are building an interpretive trail below Beaver Lake that will link up the sections of trail not affected by the development. Because this trail will lack both the intensity and technical features of the trails that were affected, they also donated $10,000 to WORCA and trail builder Chris Markle to complete Foreplay.

"Taking the job of helping Chris finish that trail and getting it done right through the municipality, which is willing to take some ownership of the trail, is a whole new game for us and it has some exciting possibilities in the future," Horn says.

"It lends a lot of validity to our organization that the developers would come to us, and Bob Brett worked a lot with us when he put together the Emerald Forest plan ? he didn?t agree with everything we were about, but he definitely recognized WORCA?s 600 members as a significant voice in the community. Compared to the other groups in town, like AWARE and the Naturalists, we?re huge."

WORCA spent $8,000 on trail maintenance this year, compared to $6,000 the previous year. That funded more than 400 hours of trail work under Markle, and based on the feedback from the mountain bike community, almost every trail in town has improved as a result. In total, WORCA estimates it maintained 56 kilometres of trails.

As director of trails, Horn also organized eight successful volunteer trail maintenance nights in Whistler, as well as trail maintenance days in Whistler, Pemberton, and Spruce Lake. This year local bike shops stepped forward to sponsor trail development nights, which is something Horn would like to help develop in the future.

Other trail plans in the works include getting Section 102 recognized by the municipality, and building a skill?s development and trials park under the hydro lines behind Rainbow Park.

On the membership side, the club is currently sitting at 583 members, down slightly from the previous year. A few years ago the club?s popularity peaked with over 1,000 members.

Horn believes the club lost many of these members to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and the freeriding revolution, and to the perception that WORCA is really about the Loonie Races.

"I think that WORCA?s big stumbling block forever has been the fact that we sign up new members through Loonie races, and if you don?t go to Loonie races you don?t become a WORCA member," he says. "There?s not really an avenue to sign up, unless it?s out of the goodness of your heart.

"Unfortunately I know lots of people who ride in town who aren?t members of WORCA because they don?t race but love to ride. We have to tap into these people. That?s probably our big mandate for this year."

At the same time, Horn feels 583 members is still significant enough to get the attention of the community.

"In a town of 10,000, that?s pretty good. We?re still a huge mountain bike club, probably one of the biggest in North America. We may have lost some members, but we are down to our core members, the people who honestly love the sport and are committed to it."

More members will mean more money, which in turn will mean more funding for trail maintenance projects and youth development programs.

There are 23 corporate members of the club, who have made significant contributions, especially on the events side.

On the advocacy side, WORCA members were part of in the Whistler Cycling Committee, and the Lillooet Land and Resource Management Plan, the Samurai of Singletrack bike race, and the Westside Wheelup.

With the help of corporate members and 11 corporate sponsors, WORCA itself hosted 20 Loonie races with 2,389 participants, a spring freeride camp, four youth dirt camps, and the bike swap. WORCA is also involved with the Huck Fest in Whistler this weekend.

The new WORCA board of directors is as follows:

President ? Tony Horn

Treasurer ? Lisa Landry

Director of: Trails ? Bob Lessard

Director of Membership ? Bob Lorriman

Director of Planning ? Kim Needham

Director of Public Relations ? Vanessa Carrington

Director of Youth ? Mark Beaton

Director of Recreational Riding ? Larry Falcon

Director of Race ? Mike Witten

Director of Freeride ? Kris Ongman