by Aiken Scherberger

“The most epic moments in our lives are rarely of our own choosing.” That phrase might sound like something said by Winston Churchill, but it came from the mouth of a rider at the inaugural edition of Turas Mór in 2016.

What exactly is Turas Mór. It’s Gaelic for “great journey,” In this case, it also refers to a unique 60 km (also 25 km) non-competitive cycling event. Eighty per cent of it is on dirt roads. It’s run during the Creemore Vintage Festival in Creemore, Ont., about roughly 125 km north of Toronto. You’re encouraged to ride a vintage bike at Turas Mór, but it’s not required. There’s gourmet food and drink, a laid-back atmosphere and great beer from host Creemore Springs Brewery.

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Last year, on May 14, the temperature hovered in single digits and it was raining. Of the 150 registered riders (the event sold out), 130 showed up that morning on the main street of Creemore. The forecast was calling for the temperatures to drop and the conditions to get worse. The brewery, with great enlightenment, decided to refund everyone’s registration fees. But cyclists being cyclists, some wanted to ride anyway. The brewery went ahead and ran the event—for free.

So 90 riders decided to start. They all finished, kind of. Fifteen riders rode the full course, which was gruelling: deep mud and constant, pouring rain that turned to horizontal snow. The wind was so strong that riders were pedalling as hard as they could and barely moving – downhill.

The other 75 riders also made it to the finish line, just not after riding the full route. Some turned around, others took shortcuts and many were given rides back by a good Samaritan dubbed by some as the Church Lady from Dunedin and volunteers from the Terra Nova Public House and staff and friends of the brewery. That’s community involvement.

The highlight of the day was the post-ride gathering inside the brewery’s retail store. It was warm. There was live music by Frank Deresti. The beer was flowing and people were connecting in the shared experience of what was, for most of them, the most epic ride of their lives.

Other features of the ride included the following:

  • Creemore’s poet laureate, Tim Armour, in full Highland dress serenading the start line with his bagpipes and an original two-page poem
  • Rest stops with stunning views with brie and charcuterie
  • Homemade power bar type fuel served by Anna, proprietor of the Terra Nova Public House
  • At the finish, renowned local caterers Men With Knives served their pulled-pork sandwiches
  • And what was for many the culinary pièce de résistance waiting at the finish: a big cauldron of gourmet fish stew made and served by world-famous chef Michael Stadtländer.

This year Turas Mór is on Saturday, May 27, the time of year when the late spring sun should be shining. But if the weather turns nasty, you can take comfort in knowing the people of Creemore Springs and the village are going to look after you really well.

This year registration is capped at 350. For more information, visit creemorespringsturasmor.com


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