Chicagoland: The Ultimate Spyder Playground


by SpyderTalk staffers 

BRP has a well deserved reputation for creative engineering of their products. For the 2010 Spyder Owner's Event in Chicago, they used that same creativity to engineer three unique experiences within a 24 hour event in the Windy City.

This year's event kicked off on Friday afternoon in downtown Chicago at the host Sheraton hotel. Spyders began rolling in mid-afternoon and owners grabbed their registration packages and goodie bags upon arrival. Most owners safely tucked their Spyders away in the underground garage before walking a short distance, between the Chicago skyscrapers, to Navy Pier on beautiful Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is a vibrant spot with lots of activity--tour boats, sailing ships, ferris wheels and food galore all with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop. After walking the pier and taking in all the fun, most Spyder owners met up at Bubba Gumps for great food--and a beer or two.

Day two of the Owner's Event kicked off with a 7:30am breakfast reception hosted by BRP. The overnight rain had passed and the forecast was for bright sunshine and temps in the mid 80's. Ryders at the hotel received instructions for the group ride that would snake through the tall downtown buildings and up Lake Shore Drive. One by one, Spyders emerged from the underground garage and made their way down the street. Downtown Chicago is a busy place with tons of traffic even on a Saturday morning, so Chicago police helped get the large group through the intersections so everyone could stay together. Leaving the skyline behind would be the transition to the second experience of the event. The destination of this 2 hour cruise would be the Lehmann Mansion in Lake Villa--which seemed like a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago.

Several ryders ventured out on their own and many others stayed at alternate hotels and planned to meet up at the mansion. About forty spyders left on the group ride together--which is about all you would want to try to keep together on a 2 hour ride.

Arriving at the Lehmann mansion, we found about a hundred spyders already in the parking lot. The grounds were what you would expect for someplace called a mansion. A BRP hosted lunch was a couple hours away, so most owners used the time to walk amongst the Spyders in the parking area and talk with fellow owners. This being the third annual owners event, along with other big events like the Spyders In the Smokies Rally, and on-line forums--many owners know each other well and this was a time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. It's amazing the creativity that many owners put into their Spyders. Finding a stock Spyder in this crowd was like finding a gold nugget in a creek bed. We saw everything from custom paint to turbo chargers--and the RT population was nicely represented along with the majority GS/RS crowd.

A huge white tent that was attached to the mansion sat next to the parking lot and was the setting for lunch and BRP's presentations. Chicago is known for their deep dish Chicago style pizza, but tastes of the southwest were on the menu for this day. Maybe not traditional Chicago grub, but good eats none the less. Lunch gave way to BRP's executives from Valcourt welcoming everyone and handing out some big gift certificates for categories like most miles traveled and best custom. SpyderTalk member Doru also received a special award for being he first Spyder ryder with 100,000 miles! BRP executives showed genuine gratitude for the passion and enthusiasm the Spyder community has quickly become known for--even they seem impressed and surprised with the Spyder culture they have created in three short years.

After lunch and the awards ceremony, the third and final experience of the event was up next. BRP staged what they called The Ultimate Playground. Shuttles carried hundreds of event attendees a mile away where demo rides for all BRP products were waiting (okay, no Ski-Doo rides on this hot summer day). The Can-Am Commander, BRP's hot new entry to into the UTV market was the biggest attraction along with long lines of Spyder RS owners wanting to try out the Spyder RT. Water lovers got the chance to ride the latest Sea-Doo PWC and boats and there was a muddy trail through the woods for quad riders to test the newest Can-Am ATVs.

BRP packed a lot into this great owner's event. We started out experiencing the "the big city", traveled away from downtown Chicago for a wonderful owners gathering at the Lehmann Mansion, and finished the day by playing on the latest and greatest products in BRP's line-up. It was a lot to pack into 24 hours--but BRP pulled it off and everyone had a great Owner's Event. June 2011 is a mere 12 months away--wonder where we'll meet up next year for the fourth annual Can-Am Spyder Owner's event?