WORCA ready for 2009 

New insurance, but same emphasis on trails and community

The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) has broken 1,100 members for the past two seasons, and is easily the biggest mountain bike club in the world. Web searches for other clubs making this claim have a quarter as many members, and none of them do as much when it comes to serving the growing mountain bike community in the corridor.

Upcoming events for the club include the first Toonie Ride on April 30, the opening of registration for WORCA's youth Dirt Camps (May 1, though date is subject to change), the annual WORCA Bike Swap (May 2), a beginner bike maintenance clinic (May 12), and the Trail Sweep Day (May 16).

The directors have been hard at work over the winter months planning this season's programming, and as always there are a few changes to report.

This year WORCA opted out of Cycling B.C. for insurance, instead choosing to go with Vancouver-based AllSport Insurance for coverage. While coverage levels remain the same, the club will pay $8 to $10 less per member for insurance, which will help the club rebuild its trail maintenance funding for the season. Last year WORCA spent more than $70,000 on trail maintenance and trail building projects, the most in the club's history by a long margin.

The drawback is that WORCA members won't be able to participate in Cycling B.C. events without purchasing race day insurance.

"We have a lot of high performance athletes doing Cycling B.C. events, but it came down to the fact that we're a club that's focused on the community and most of our riders are out to have fun," said WORCA president Todd Hellinga.

WORCA has kept membership costs frozen for more than four years, despite regular increases in insurance rates. In recent years WORCA would subsidize insurance for youth members and family memberships. This year memberships will continue to be $40 for adults, $25 for youth 17 and under, and $90 for families (with two adults and two youth).

Membership allows riders to participate in 22 Thursday night Toonie races, at least four other weekend events, the Phat Wednesday Downhill Series, Wild Willies Rides and WORCA camps and clinics through the season.

More funding for trails will be welcome with the municipality reducing Community Enrichment Program grants this year. In addition to keeping more money from memberships and money raised at Toonie Races, WORCA is looking at other grant opportunities to pad its trail budget.

As well, trail director Jerome David plans to continue to host volunteer trail days and evenings through the season, which contributed almost 600 hours of volunteer labour last season, worth more than $10,000. The first trail sweep is scheduled for May 16, with groups walking the trails to prune back vegetation, remove downed trees and do some other minor maintenance.

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