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Whistler Off Road Cycling Association to host third annual Back Forty fundraiser

Proceeds from the mountain bike race on June 10 will go towards WORCA trail construction projects and the Indigenous Life Sport Academy
A mountain biker smiles for the camera at the 2022 Back Forty fundraiser in Whistler.

For a third straight year, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) is raising money to build local trails and support the Indigenous Life Sport Academy by way of its Back Forty fundraiser.

Scheduled for June 10, the Back Forty is a spiritual successor to the Nimby Fifty, a technical cross-country mountain bike race that ran yearly for about a decade in Pemberton. That contest ceased to be after 2019, but WORCA events director Quinn Lanzon was inspired to make something similar happen in Whistler.

“Other than Crankworx, Whistler hasn’t had a big community biking event [in some time],” Lanzon said. “In the past, there was the Westside Wheel Up, which I think ran for nearly 30 years, but the people who organized it kind of moved on, and there was just nothing going on.

“And I just wanted to put together an event that was different from the Westside Wheel Up. I wanted it to be not just a community event, but really something that lives up to Whistler’s reputation as a world-class place.”

‘A lot of people can do it’

Part of what interests Lanzon in endurance bike racing is its capacity to attract riders of varying skill levels. High-calibre athletes once frequented the Nimby Fifty, and there are indeed some big names among the 275 individuals slated to take part in this year’s Back Forty.

Take for instance Geoff Kabush, a three-time Canadian Olympian with nine World Cup medals under his belt, or Port Moody’s Lief Rodgers, an Enduro World Series (EWS) rider who is gunning for his third consecutive Back Forty win. They will be joined by a group of American pros led by Stephan Davoust, veterans of the United States-based Singletrack Series.

These top-flight cyclists will be joined by a bevy of everyday folk who are approaching the event like a challenge, an early summer goal, or simply a great excuse to spend a day behind their handlebars.

“It is definitely bigger than your typical Saturday ride, but I think a lot of people can do it if they put their minds to it, and that’s definitely something that motivates a lot of people to come out,” said Lanzon.

WORCA’s first Back Forty took place in 2021—delayed a year due to the onset of COVID-19—and ran with just 90 athletes. In hindsight, Lanzon knows he made that inaugural course too long and difficult for many, but a seed was planted. The 2022 instalment saw 130 riders help raise more than $12,000.

This year’s fundraising goal is set at $15,000. The course, which covers a total of 26.3 kilometres with roughly 1.4 kilometres of elevation gain, has added a new first stage in Cheakamus with the finish line now located in Alpine. Participants must cover a total of three stages in an individual time trial format.

The purse amounts to a total of $5,000, with half allocated for men and half for women.

Local support

Despite the absence of Specialized, a bicycle brand that sponsored last year’s Back Forty, the event remains on track thanks to financial support from Sundial Hotel and Canadian Outdoor Medical Consulting, the latter of which will provide first aid services.

Lanzon also wanted to highlight the event’s other sponsors, including Whistler Connection, OneUp Components, RideWrap, Chromag and Gibbons. The latter is hosting an open-to-the-public après on June 10 from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Meadow Park Sports Centre (MPSC). Gibbons will donate $1 from every beer sold directly to WORCA.

Volunteers are always vital to the Back Forty’s success. Generous Whistlerites can fill various roles as course marshals who cheer on riders and respond to potential injuries, timers who keep the clocks running, feed station attendants who provide mid-race fuel-ups, and après workers who exchange drink tickets for beers.

All volunteers receive their own food and beverages for the day, as well as a prize pack containing various bike components, an entry into the raffle draw and priority registration for next year’s fundraiser.

“It’s a fun event to get involved with, but it’s pretty high-paced,” Lanzon said. “You show up, you get your briefing, you hike into the woods, and then the stages are only open for two to three hours each, so people move through them pretty quick.

“We take care of the volunteers, and there’s a bunch of different options for shifts that range from one hour to help clean up at the end of the day, to spending the whole day helping out if you want to, but most of the shifts are between one and three hours.”

More information is available at