Cycling BC, the provincial cycling body that sanctions all types of pedal-powered competition in the province, is looking to get more involved with cycling at the grass roots level, as well as to restore the BC Cup mountain bike series after a few years of decline.
Richard Wooles, the executive director for Cycling BC, gave an interview with Canadian Cycling last week where he discussed the overall financial health of the organization after it imploded in 2012, and the progress that’s been made in the last year.
Cycling BC had an operating deficit of around $400,000 when the previous board resigned. Wooles reduced staff from 12 to three in the short-term, and set out to talk to the cycling communities about their needs and wishes for the organization going forward. They drafted a strategic plan, and brought more transparency to the organization.
Wooles himself had filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the organization, which he dropped when he took over the helm.
The group is now on sound financial footing according to Wooles, and is preparing to grow again. They especially want to start recruiting more licenced riders at the junior levels, with the average age of members climbing to over 30 years old in recent years.
The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association and Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association were once members of Cycling BC, but went their own way in the last decade over issues like the cost to members and the inflexibility of insurance and race sanctioning. As a result, the majority of cycling events in the corridor are sanctioned by the clubs themselves through their own insurance, or by other sanctioning bodies.
The Question contacted Wooles to find out if their future plans include working with clubs at the grass roots once again.
“I was in a meeting last week with all groups and really would love to see all groups working better together going forward,” answered Wooles. “As for sanctioning and insurance, I think it will take some time for us to come to all groups with real value to groups and riders, (but) this is one of our highest priorities.
“We have over 5,000 members and are growing. We need to work hard to keep proving more value, and then be ready for when groups ask for our support again.”
Last year, Cycling BC made the decision to disband the BC Cup series for cross-country as a result of declining participation numbers. However, under Wooles Cycling BC is looking to reverse that and restore the series.
“100 per cent, we have been working on this and hope to bring a (BC Cup cross-country) series back for 2014,” he said, adding that they also want to get more involved in feeder races for younger riders. “We are working better with all groups now and the high schools (including the North Shore Mountain Bike League that Whistler Secondary races in) are very high on our list.”
As well, Wooles said there is more potential going forward to evolve with the sport and sanction more events that are outside the traditional scope of competitive cycling. That could mean sanctioning events like enduro races, which are extremely popular, multi-stage races and cross-country marathon events.
“We think we can,” he said. “We need to work with all groups to make cycling better for riders in B.C. — BMX, track, cross-country, para, cyclocross are all growing along with downhill, and we are looking to help groups work with us to make B.C. the best place to ride and race in Canada.”