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Looking at the trail ahead and behind for SORCA

Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association heads into its 30th year.
As Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association enters its 30th year in 2022, it is hard to imagine the powerhouse organization it is today was once a humble group of about 20 mountain biking friends who liked to ride together and build trails. 

"You know, mountain biking is exploding around the world — not just Squamish — and SORCA has grown with it," said president Jeff Norman, adding that an economy has grown alongside biking in Squamish, with many local companies sprouting up and thriving due to the sport’s popularity. 

"This is kind of the centre of Canada's mountain bike universe [now], which is fantastic. And, I mean, the trail network itself has grown a ton and we are certainly really happy to be one part of it."

Currently, SORCA boasts close to 2,700 members riding our more than 300 trails. 

Norman told The Squamish Chief that is the most members the club has ever had. The pandemic-curbed 2020 was the first and only year memberships ever went down — and even then, it was only by 100 or so memberships, Norman said. 

"We're thrilled that people are signing up again," he said, "We're excited and really lucky here in Squamish because that's not the same in every community."

Typically, SORCA puts on about 30 events a year for members. With the pandemic, there were about 10 in 2021. 

"I think we did three or four social rides, one race, three or four youth events, as well. Those are great. Once things calm down mid to late summer, and the comfort level was there for everyone, we were able to put those on," Norman said. 

"That was great news...SORCA — more than a lot of trail organizations — is about these events that just build community and get people together... It is a lot more fun for our volunteers as well, to tell you the truth, when we're putting events on rather than just having Zoom meetings."

With the pandemic lumbering on, the organization doesn't have concrete plans for a celebration of the 30-year milestone but hopes to be able to put on a full slate of events and an anniversary celebration, health orders willing, Norman said. 

When the club has its full slate of trail days, it can wrangle up to 500 volunteers. 

This past year about 250 to 300 volunteers came out to do trail maintenance, among other things.

With the atmospheric river events this fall, more trail days are going to be required for next season, Norman said. 

"We were definitely luckier than some, obviously, in the Fraser Valley, they got a lot more rain out there," he noted.

"[But] when water runs down the trails or takes away kind of all the mineral soil and it just makes them rockier and so they need to be fixed up....Nothing that we won't be able to handle, but it's gonna take a big volunteer effort and trail crew effort in the spring to get things back up to snuff."

The trails ahead

Change is afoot for the new season, with Helen Beynon stepping down after four years as the club's executive director and Ian Lowe taking the helm of the non-profit in February. 

Lowe has 15 years of experience in leadership and management roles and was previously the race director on the SORCA board for a number of years. 

"Ian embodies the community spirit that SORCA represents;  he’s got a unique skill set that is going to serve our organization and community very well. We are thrilled that he has chosen to come home to work with us full time," said Norman in a news release.

Norman added that the organization has been well served and "really lucky" to have had Beynon in the paid role for the past four years working 20 to 30 hours a week. Lowe will be working 40 hours per week. 

“It is an honour to have been given this opportunity with an organization I am so passionate about. I look forward to representing the membership in ensuring that mountain biking and trails have a sustainable and thriving future in our community,” said Lowe in the release. 

SORCA’s volunteer board is looking for new members. 

The 2022 director elections will take place at the AGM on Jan. 26. Six director positions are up for grabs.

Positions up for election are treasurer/secretary, trails, risk management, social events, races, and fundraising/membership.

Positions are for two-year terms. 

(Apply by Monday, Jan. 10. Send your nomination by email to info@sorca.ca. More information is here.)

Norman said those who may be a bit intimidated to get involved with such an established and tight-knit organization should feel free to reach out and get involved. 

"We're always looking for talented people to be on our board. It doesn't matter if you're a big-time mountain biker, new to town, or have been around for a long time. We have a wide range of people on our board and that's really, really important to keeping the organization moving," he said. 

In terms of future plans and goals, Norman said SORCA is looking forward to strengthening ties with the Squamish Nation

"That's one big thing," he said. "The trails are on their lands, and this is all their territory." 

He added that the association was proud to have helped create a Squamish Nation Youth Mountain Bike Program in 2020, which is expanding. 

"We want to kind of be a leader on the reconciliation front in the outdoor scene in the Sea to Sky," he said. 

SORCA is also working on some infrastructure projects for 2022, such as a new parking lot down at the bottom of Pseudo Tsuga.

This is a project the organization has been waiting for provincial government approval on for about a year, Norman said. 

There's also a plan in the works to expand the Mikayla Martin Memorial Trail, Miki's Magic, and to rebuild the skills park at Brennan Park. 

"So it should be a busy, busy 2022. That's for sure," Norman said. 

Find out more about SORCA on its website.