The news that Pedal Magazine named Squamish the best place to ride in Canada may not have surprised some. Of course, it is. There really is nowhere else like Squamish that has the breadth and quality of trails that we find here. But itís taken many years for the Toronto-based magazine to finally recognize what many people in the mountain biking world take as self-evident.†
†Over the past 20 some years, Squamish has become synonymous with mountain biking. And in Squamish, mountain biking means Cliff Miller.
Thatís not to suggest that the thousands of others who have volunteered time and effort havenít played a role, but itís been Miller who has been the face, the voice (and the cook) of mountain biking in this community.
As the director of the Test of Metal, Miller is responsible for the best-run and most successful mountain bike race in Canada. As one of the founding members and long-time president of SORCA, Miller guided the organization from its development to its current incarnation.
Heís fond of saying that SORCA started ďas a drinking club with a mountain-biking problem,Ē but that glib characterization conceals the effort, passion and commitment that Miller has given to the local industry.
I say industry, because along with the news from Pedal Magazine last week, SORCA released the results of a report that found that mountain biking brings $8 million into the local economy annually. Thatís apart from the Test of Metal group of races that, on their own, bring significant dollars to the community.
The astounding thing about all of this is that it costs the taxpayer almost nothing. SORCA and the Test of Metal are volunteer-run organizations. The trails exist because of the passion and desire of the many dedicated trail builders and volunteers.
Times have changed as the number of people from outside the valley who use the trails has increased. Now, trail passes are sold and trail crews are hired, but the crux of it remains unchanged: a group of guys, and increasingly girls, who like to ride their bikes in the mud give up their time and energy to make it happen.
Last year, SORCA, in partnership the SDBA (Squamish Dirt Bike Association) and STS (Squamish Trail Society), received a $60,000 grant-in-aid for a trail crew. This year, theyíve requested another. It seems only fitting that council honour the people who have made Squamish the best place to ride by giving them this small sum.