Last weekend we exhibited for the first time in France, at the VéloVert Festival. The VVF is a mountain biking festival for all disciplines organised by VéloVert Magazine (the leading French mountain biking magazine). This year was its fifth edition, and the second time it was held at the ski resort at Villard-de-Lans, an Alpine village about an hour's drive south of Grenoble. Perfect downhill territory!
The special thing about VVF is that it is a bike testing festival – the biggest in the world! - where they have developed their own security system which allows riders to take the latest models up into the hills and give them a proper test. A wide range of brands were present, such as Specialized, Giant, LaPierre, Canyon, Cube, Merida, Scott, Orange, Santa Cruz... and the testing wasn't limited to bikes either. All kinds of bike-related products were also available to test, from padding protection, glasses, lights, helmets, to forks, shoes, baggy shorts... you name it. There was even a Singletrack beer brewed by a local brewery which we got to test. (It's a hard life!)
Bikes could be tested either at one's leisure or during the race events put on. These included an Enduro, a Chrono, a DH Marathon, a Night Ride, a Street Race (which included a loop of the local ice-rink – on the ice!), a Family Challenge, and a Kids Race. There were also non-timed all-mountain, X-country, and family events, as well as lead-rides, and a women-only ride organised by Scott (who were here to launch a new ladies bike range), lead by French world ski-cross champion, Ophélie David. Bikes could even be used to practice jumps onto a massive airbag, or on the pump track. As you can see, there was enough going on to keep you entertained for the full three days! In the evening there were concerts put on in the village, as well as other fun activities like human table-football.
We were there to promote ViewRanger to the French mountain-biking market. It was well received and everyone was very impressed. Whilst there were many who were new to the name, it was lovely to meet some of our French users face to face.
Maps for France are supplied on a subscription model. For €24 a year (about £20) subscribers get on-line access to IGN maps for the whole country, in the full range of scales (1:25,000 – 1:100,000), and can save up to 10,000km² to their phone at any one time, for use off-line. It is important to remember the bit about saving the maps onto the phone for off-line use when dealing with online maps – be it IGN or Open Cycle Map – because if you forget to download them before leaving the house, there is a chance there will not be any sort of signal where you're going. ViewRanger is designed for use without signal, but it only works if this important step is completed.
It was, to my surprise, quite a family orientated event. There were plenty kids around all the time, from toddlers on those peddle-less push bikes trying out the pump track (under close supervision from the French School of Mountain Bike Guides), to 12-13 year-olds collecting stickers or wearing full body armour, trying to blag a test of a top-of-the-range downhill bikes. We even saw a bike-trailer with proper suspension. Best start early, I guess!
The organisers were the friendliest, most attentive bunch I've ever met, and they spoilt us exhibitors rotten. Every stand had coffee and croissants delivered every morning by volunteers or the small organising team, and a local restaurant provided a cooked meal at lunchtime, delivered by quad bike. (As the only vegetarian within a 50-mile radius, I received my very own daily food parcel - Thanks guys!)
We are very happy to have been part of the VéloVert Festival. It was brilliant to attend such a dynamic festival, make new friends, meet future colleagues, and perve on some stunning bikes whilst being paid. I guess it was worth having us for them too, since it apparently took two British exhibitors to bring the sunshine ;)
Watch the videos produced by the VVF team each day:
Vélo Vert Festival - Day 1
Vélo Vert Festival - Day 2
Vélo Vert Festival - Day 3
And finally... have you ever wonder how they take those photos in magazines of bike standing upright by themselves?!