What is WORCA?
The Whistler Off Road Cycling Association was founded in 1989 to lobby against the pending closure of bike trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park. As a result of these early efforts the Cheakamus Lake and Elfin Lake trails remained open to cyclists.
WORCA has evolved over the years to become an integral part of Whistler. Today it has an thirteen-member board of directors that represents and serves a community of more than 1,700 members.
By working with government, landowners and developers, WORCA continues to ensure mountain bike trail access while providing a wide range of other services to the mountain bike community:
WORCA sanctions the weekly Toonie Ride series and Phat Wednesday series, as well as special events like the Westside Wheel up; WORCA fosters the evolution of the sport through its youth programs and clinics, teaching safety, etiquette and technique to cyclists; WORCA helps to maintain hundreds of kilometres of trails to the highest environmental standards through member fees and volunteer efforts.
With a growing membership WORCA can increase trail maintenance and rehabilitation projects around Whistler. Join today to support your local trails.
To view the bylaws click here.
To view the constitution click here.
WORCA the Alpine Passion
It started in the 1980’s, with recreation enthusiasts coming to Whistler for the love of skiing and the mountains; seeking the true mountain experience of starting in the thick forest of the valley bottom and travelling upward through increasingly sparse vegetation, finally breaking tree line and taking in the breathtaking expanse and awe-inspiring vistas of the high alpine. The love of the alpine experience pushed these Whistler mountain bike pioneers to develop a new pastime, creating a lasting summer recreation experience and forever changing Whistler’s culture. In the spring when the snow melted and locals put their skis away, they now pulled out and tuned up their mountain bikes, eager for a warm weather version of the exhilaration that skiers have moved to Whistler for decades to pursue.
After the ski resort turned its lifts off and closed its doors for the summer, access roads sat empty and cyclists rode the 1500m+ vertical to the alpine in the Whistler spirit of healthy living, fun, and an escape to some of the best views around Whistler in Garibaldi Provincial Park that they were used to from the winter. In those days, the classic rides in Whistler were up Blackcomb Mountain to the 7th Heaven south side and the Singing Path – Musical Bumps loop back to Whistler. Mountain bikes increased in popularity as the distances required to get to the Alpine were shortened and the return trip was made more exciting, with an adrenaline rush akin to skiing. The goals were similar, fresh air and expansive views, the feeling of escape in the alpine environment.
As people flocked to Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor got busier, mountain biking as a new and unknown sport caused some conflict with trail users, which in turn led governments to take measures to control access to the alpine trails, which were not yet designed or maintained for bike traffic. Local visionaries created WORCA in 1989 as a lobby for continued access for mountain bikers and to establish and legitimize the fledgling sport’s presence in the valley. In 1990, citing these user conflicts, BC Parks excluded mountain bikers from alpine areas of Garibaldi Provincial Park, including Singing Pass and Musical Bumps trails. Access was then restricted to the valley bottom Cheakamus Lake trail.
As the ski resort grew, it discouraged the use of its access routes due to concern for potential accidents within its controlled recreation area. Mountain bikers were left to discreetly access the resort via a few undeveloped routes such as Highway 86 on Whistler to access the Khyber Pass and Ride Don’t Slide trails. On Whistler, the bike trails featured limited alpine scenery and were too technical to be marketed to the visitors coming for cross country riding.
With alpine access revoked, WORCA focused its energy on maintaining the local Whistler valley bottom trail network, in addition to promoting the sport through weekly rides, trail maintenance days, youth camps and other events. WORCA grew substantially in the ensuing years, and now boasts an annual membership of over 1,800 cyclists. In its nearly 25 years of operation, WORCA has become one of the largest cycling advocacy groups in North America, if not the world. The club now hires and manages some of the best trail builders in the Sea to Sky corridor, oversees a world class trail maintenance program including volunteer trail days, and is the driving force in the local trail community, maintaining trails for local residents and the tens of thousands of trail loving visitors to our town every year.
Over the years, local, regional, and provincial governments have recognized the significant role that mountain biking continues to play in enhancing our local economy. While Whistler has unquestionably become a mountain bike Mecca, we are still missing a key part of what will really make the Sea to Sky corridor a legitimate world leader in the mountain biking experience – legal alpine trail riding in the Whistler area.
Visitors and enthusiasts comment on this glaring exception every year, and feedback within the world mountain bike community says that while Whistler has some great trail experiences it is seriously lacking when it comes to alpine trail access. Unfortunately Whistler’s extensive trail network is primarily in the thick Pacific Northwest rain forest which, while beautiful in its own right, does not compare to the sweeping alpine vistas with rugged peaks, turquoise lakes, and wildflowers for which Whistler is famous. We have a true world class experience, a true destination trail opportunity, and it has sat untapped for 22 years.
In 2012, Whistler Blackcomb opened the Peak Chair to mountain biking, limiting access to the Top of the World trail to 100 paying riders per day. At a cost of an extra $15 on top of a bike park pass, it does not make for a cheap alpine riding experience, and it primarily caters to a more downhill clientele. However, it did allow for the first alpine riding within the bike park and an opportunity to showcase Whistler’s incredible alpine vistas to the global cycling community. While access via the Peak chair has proved popular, the downhill bike park experience is inaccessible to a large number of riders. This is why WORCA is pursuing the concept of cross country access to the alpine for the riders who would like to climb up on their bikes and descend under their own power.
At every opportunity WORCA is attempting to open lines of communication with potential partners and look at ways to help better manage mountain biking and trail use in the Whistler area. WORCA believes in the concept of well designed, well maintained trails that are suitable for all non-motorized users and feels it has shown over the past 20 years to be a great steward of the trails for the whole community, residents and visitors alike. The skills and passion the club has developed since its inception will make it a valuable partner for BC Parks for years to come. WORCA can help manage and greatly improve our trail resources. Non-motorized trail users share the same values, including majestic landscapes, well-maintained trails, and the great social experiences that help tie us to each other, and to the land, which we all believe in protecting for future generations.
Numerous studies in trail construction and management have provided land managers with solutions to trail user conflicts, and we have no doubt that the hiking and biking communities can come together on this issue and work together with BC Parks to create a truly world class hiking and biking network that reminds the world that this area is special and will provide a positive case study of local groups working together to make our local trails even better for a wider range of the non-motorized trail community.