Spyder Homecoming - A weekend to remember
by SpyderTalk.com staff
In the traditional sense, the word homecoming means just that--a return home, a reunion, a gathering at a place frequented in the past. BRP's inaugural Spyder Owner's Homecoming event may have been a return home for the Spyders, but for their owners it was an event of new beginnings, new friendships, and new memories. The gathering of hundreds of people sharing a common passion for one of the most exciting new vehicles to be introduced in years. It was an event that will be remembered for a lifetime.
The plan was simple. Get as many owners as possible to fire up their Spyders and make their way to BRP headquarters in Valcourt, Quebec. There would be some riding, a chance to see the birthplace of the Spyder, and the creation of a new owner'sfraternity that developed in front of our very eyes. We were fortunate to attend this event and meet so many owners from our SpyderTalk.com forums. We joined the group that started at Americade in Lake George, NY. Though it was a wet morning, the group's excitement could not be dampened by the rain drops.
After a quick breakfast and some instructions, we were off. A line of Spyders stretching nearly a half mile long heading up New York's scenic Northway. It was a sight to see. No two Spyders were alike. Nearly every owner had customized their ride to make it their own--windshields, pipes, bags, custom paint jobs, and even small trailers in tow.
After nearly two hours on rain soaked roads, our first stop in Plattsburgh was welcomed. As Spyders swarmed in and out of the gas pumps, riders were refueling as well with hot coffee and donuts. A light drizzle didn't stop anyone from making the rounds to compare mods and proud owners were happy to share their stories. With the Spyders gassed up and the riders ready to roll, we left Plattsburgh en masse heading for the Canadian border.
Arriving at the border provided one of the most memorable moments of the weekend. Normally, the chore of waiting in long lines to be questioned by border guards is a dreadful experience. But sitting amongst what felt like hundreds of Spyders slowly inching forward provided the first sense of just how big this event was going to be. You could sense that you were taking part in something special.
Welcome to Canada -- the home of the Can-Am Spyder Roadster. With the rain still falling and the wind howling, we slowly passed BRP's video team as we entered Quebec. We all gathered within a mile, make that two kilometers, of the border at the last meeting point. We were greeted with Canadian hospitality and a welcomed lunch supplied by BRP. The excitement was building as the numbers grew. Valcourt was less than a 2 hour ride away. As we headed east on A-10 from Montreal, the winds made for a memorable ride and made the anticipation of arriving in Valcourt that much greater.
Exiting A-10 in rural Quebec, the helicopter hovering overhead indicated that we were getting close to home. Road construction queued all the Spyders together, almost as if it was planned so we could begin our back road cruise to the factory all in a row. As we approached Valcourt, our pace slowed as we were greeted by dozens of waving locals. Young and old alike waved from porches and sidewalks. It was evident that BRP and the Spyder are ingrained in the local fabric. You could sense the pride and excitement as hundreds of Spyders rolled into town.
Some things have to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
Arriving at the factory with 260 plus Spyders all at the same time is difficult to put into words. With the gray sky now holding its rain, BRP employeesfrom line workers to the CEO greeted us as we parked amongst a sea of Spyders. We had reached our destination and the festivities were about to begin. Marc Lacroix, Director of Spyder Marketing, was being interviewed by a local newspaper as we walked toward the factory where custom Spyders lined the walkway.
The pride of the owners shined through as they put their hard work and creativity on display. As some attendees were strolling through the display of custom Spyders and chatting with fellow owners, others began filing into the factory for the tour of the production line.
We entered the factory to find hundreds of owners standing in line to begin the tour. BRP had many tour guides on hand, accommodating both French and English speaking guests. The pace was slow because of inquisitive Spyder owners asking many questions and BRP employees pridefully sharing their stories. After hearing a brief history on the design of the Spyder, our tour guide lead our group through the many stages of Spyder production. Of particular interest was a stop and discussion with Rotax engineer, Misha Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman's passion for the Rotax power plant shone through as he explained the transformation of the historic 990 that allowed it to become the heart of the Spyder Roadster.
After completing the tour, buses awaited outside the factory for a short trip to a gigantic tent set up for the Bar-B-Q and presentations. With BRP products on display outside and music blaring inside, we mingled with Spyder owners and checked out early Spyder prototypes that were on display. As the buzz of the tent silenced, Marc Lacroix welcomed all owners to Valcourt. After an enthusiastic group roll call by state and province--kudos to Quebec for the loudest roar, prizes were awarded with the grand prize going to the winner of the best custom Spyder. Speeches by Vice President Yves LeDuc and Jose Boisjoli, President and CEO concluded the tent event, but not before shaking hands with all owners and handing out a commemorative pin, a bag of goodies and an unexpected surprise--a free tank of gas for every Spyder in Valcourt!
After a bus ride back to the factory, Spyders started rolling out of the parking lot. The gas station across the street was a popular first stop. Many made their way to Chateau Bromont, a 30 minute ride away, for accommodations and a nice dinner organized by BRP. The evening was casual and filled with good food, good drink and good conversation with Spyder owners from near and far. Marc Lacroix presented a few lucky owners with one-of-a-kind Spyder Reserved Parking signs--just like you would see at the BRP factory. The evening concluded with a wonderful video of the day's ride and events. It was a fitting end to a great day.
Our Homecoming concluded at the J.A. Bombardier Museum for breakfast and a tour the next day. The museum showcases the history of the snowmobile as well as Bombardier's life. The spirit of the man who was the seed behind the creativity and ingenuity of the original L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitee, still drives BRP today.
BRP referred to this event as the inaugural homecoming event. And though this was our first trip to historic Valcourt, it was the start of a tradition we hope to continue for years to come.
After attending this Homecoming, we now know that the Spyder has not only changed the way people look at the open-air experience, it also has created memories that will last a lifetime.
Homecoming pictures and discussion
Homecoming Photo Gallery