VPS Fest Silver Star 2007

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SOURCE: NSMB/DAN AUSTIN

The Norco customer appreciation day draws nearly 200 people
Last event on the VPS Fest calendar is Sept. 14 / 15

Canada Day weekend was busy at Silver Star Mountain Resort when the Norco crew descended upon the mountain to bring us this years first VPS Fest; Norco’s customer appreciation day.

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A good sign that you’re getting close to the excitement.

This particular long weekend often brings snow and cold to the high mountains in BC, and judging by the 15cm of now that arrived at Silver Star five days prior, this was a distinct possibility. As the rain poured in Vernon all day Friday, Norco riders and VPS Fest organizers had their eye on the mountain forecast and their fingers crossed. I ran to the window on Saturday morning to see nothing but blue sky and my next stop was the computer to check Silver Star’s summit web cam to see if the same could be said for the top of the mountain. To my delight, there was no snow and the sun was gleaming off the top of the chair. I knew this day was going to be epic.

By 8:45, over an hour before the lifts open, people were already at the hill in anticipation of a big day; some had even braved the weather the night before and camped out in the parking lot.

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This is where you want to be if you’re serious about your VPS Fest action.

Making my way into the village, there was no doubt that Norco was in the house. Ryan Leech had his demo set up front and centre, the Norco trailer was set up with techs already working on the pile of new demo bikes preparing them for a hard day on the hill. The registration table was just getting set up when I arrived and people were already milling about waiting to sign up. What do you need to be part of the festivities? A Norco bike – that’s it.

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Riders getting ready to hit the trails at Silver Star, all courtesy of Norco.

Registering entitled Norco bike owners to a free day on the hill, free bike demos, free mechanical tech support (which included everything from a minor tune up to changing and bleeding hydraulic lines), a free Axiom compact multi-tool, and of course, Norco stickers.

One of the great things about VPS Fest is that it’s open to anyone with a Norco; people young or old, bikes new or ancient, big or small, fully suspended or fully rigid, Norco was happy to extent to you everything that VPS Fest had to offer. That’s what VPS Fest is all about.

In fact, I was standing with one of the senior Norco reps and we watched a MINT condition 1999 VPS-1 cruise by.

Without missing a beat, the kid with the bike was offered a new frame in return for this particular specimen of Norco history. It goes to show that great things can happen at VPS Fest.

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A full component of Norcos waiting to go out…

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Two young Norco fanatiks, just waiting for their chance to show how it’s done.

There was a lot to take in aside from the riding. One of the highlights of going to an event like this is to drool over the new rides that Norco has to offer. This year was no let down in terms of the bling on display. Proudly put on show were the ’08 DH; the ’08 Atomik, which is the same frame as the DH but with a different part spec; the ’08 Fluid, and fresh out of the brochure photo shoot the day before was the new ’08 Fluid LT (LT = Long Travel).

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The 2008 Fluid LT, just waiting to get dirty. Lightweight, but still capable of making you smile.

The LT is an entirely new platform for Norco and from what I saw it looks like a pretty fun ride. The piece de resistance, though, was a sneak peek at the all new and redesigned ’08 Six. This bike was supposed to be under wraps until Crankworks but I guess if you bring out something that nice, someone is bound to notice – and then tell their friends. So what you see below is one of the first real-world pictures released of the new ’08 Norco Six.

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The 2008 Six, complete with new Marzocchi 55 fork.

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The Norco Team DH, with full Marzocchi suspension package.

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The standard-issue Fluid. Not the best choice for the park, but wicked on the trails.

With the lifts open and the miles being laid down on the Norco demos, riders were going up and down the mountain with grins from ear to ear. Not only were people checking out new bikes and riding them for free, they were riding them at arguably one of the best mountain bike parks in the country. The rains from the week before left the trails moist in places but super sticky on most of the hill. The trials were buff, fast, and definitely long enough that the long line for the chair was worth it in the end.

“Unknown rider – wait, are those dreds sticking out of that helmet?” ||Photo: Mark Bakker

The crowds certainly turned out in droves to take in all Silver Star had to offer. There were roughly 175 people registered for VPS Fest , and they helped to make Saturday Silver Star’s biggest day yet at over 530 people; most of those riders stuck around for another day on the hill because attendance for Sunday was around 450 people. Not too shabby for a mountain that got 15cm of snow the Monday before.

Norco seems to have thought of everything to make VPS Fest a blast. Julia Gubbals from Kelowna. the winner of the Ride In Style contest, registered online before VPS Fest and won the draw for $1,000 of Mace gear, the use of a Team DH for the day and some one-on-one coaching from factory team riders. How sweet is that?

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Ride In Style contest winner Julia Gubbals enjoying her day in the sun (and Norco jersey) || Photo: Mark Bakker

People also had a chance to ride with the pros. Twice during the day, riders met at the top of the chair to cruise with the likes of Jay Hoots and Ryan Leech, a couple of guys who know a thing or two about riding. Judging by the turn-out for those rides, that fact did not go unnoticed.

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The Norco boys are joined by a few friends for laps on the hill. || Photo: Mark Bakker

Not everything was happening up on the hill though; there was a lot to do in the village as well. Norco put together a fastest flat changing contest, where yours truly placed in the top five with a time of 1:40, but that was far behind the top time posted for the day of 0:59. In the end, the people with the top two times battled it out in a final showdown where the winner, Jessie MacIver, walked, away with a new floor pump and the title of champion tire changer.

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What do you mean, I need a Schraeder adaptor??!?! Tire changing contest underway. || Photo: Mark Bakker

While that was going on all day, there were bikes to look at and of course the Ryan Leech demos. There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about Ryan Leech’s trials skills.

To stand there and watch him do what he does best makes me want to hang my bike up and take up lawn bowling.

If he ever is in a town near you, it’s more than worth it to take the time to go and see him perform. On top of that, he is a super nice guy who loves to connect with the people that enjoy his shows.

Continuing with their commitment of giving back to the biking community, Norco was selling VPS Fest gear, with 100% of the proceeds went to you and me in the form of a cheque to IMBA.

They were selling VPS Fest t-shirts, Norco stainless steel travel mugs, coolers, and beer/milk glasses. Thanks, Norco.

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So you think you’re good at skinnies, eh? Try this on for size.
|| Photo: Mark Bakker

Wrapping up the day was the big prize giveaway hosted by Jay Hoots, whose skill at MC’ing rivals his skills on a bike. I wonder if he does weddings. Anyhow, I think after the riding, this was the most anticipated part of the day. I am going to extend a warning to those who are going to attend upcoming VPS Fests: you have to be present to win the prize. You don’t want to be the one whose name was called for the new A-Line Park Edition frame and you’re not there to accept, do you? And it HAS happened, twice.

So what were they giving away? They gave away tires, shirts, glasses, water bottles, coolers filled with Red Bull, helmets, bike pumps, umbrellas, chairs, gloves, pedals, armor, a wheel-set, a Marzocchi DJ1 fork, and as mentioned before a super sweet A-Line Park Edition frame. I may have missed a couple of items, but I think you get the point. All in all, the prizes totalled over $5,000.

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The winner of the A-Line Park Edition frame,Ethan Whittaker of Enderby, BC || Photo: Mark Bakker

By the end of the day, the sun was getting flow on the horizon and people started to head home, with tired arms and smiling faces. VPS Fest is a true customer appreciation day and kudos to Norco for having such commitment to those who choose to ride one of their bikes.

If VPS Fest sounds like fun to you, make sure to check out the other remaining VPS Fest this year at Mount Washington September 14 and 15. For more information go to VPSFest.com or Norco.com.

– Dan Austin

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