By Jared Eborn

Terry McGinnis at the 2009 Tour of Utah.
Terry McGinnis at the 2009 Tour of Utah.

Photo: courtesy Cycling Utah

Utah lost one of its biggest ambassadors for the sport of cycling Saturday when Terry McGinnis, the executive director of the Tour of Utah, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

McGinnis was 46.

“He was a fixture in the Utah cycling community,” Burke Swindlehurst (Team Bissell), from Salt Lake City, said. “Everybody knew him and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a disparaging word said about him. He was just a friend to cycling and a friend to every one.”

McGinnis was also instrumental in turning the Tour of Utah into one of the biggest bicycle races in the country.

After the race was canceled in 2007 because of sponsorship problems, McGinnis was asked to take charge of the race. In doing so, the event has quickly become one of the most-anticipated races in the country.

“He was pretty much the savior of the Tour of Utah,” Swindlehurst said. “To step in and resurrect the event even though he was going through what he was … it takes a special person to accept that challenge.”

McGinnis, who leaves behind his wife, Cindy, and two children, was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago. At the time, former teammate and friend Dave Harward said, doctors told McGinnis he had only a matter of months to live.

Still, his competitive cycling life largely over, McGinnis jumped into the cycling scene as a coach and administrator — serving on the board of directors of the Utah Cycling Association.

More recently, McGinnis worked tirelessly to make the Tour of Utah a success.
In the advanced stages of cancer this August, McGinnis nonetheless was at the start, finish and all stages between.

Harward, who said he visited with McGinnis personally on Friday, said his love for the bicycle never faded.

“I was lucky enough to talk to him,” Harward said. “He said ‘I’ve been fighting this so long and I don’t think I’ve got much more.’ It was pretty hard for all of us that have known him.”

Few outside of his circle of friends understood his health concerns, especially just two months ago during the Tour of Utah.

“He was passionate about cycling and passionate until the very end,” Swindlehurst said. “He had incredible amounts of will power and will be missed.”

Jared Eborn is a sports writer covering cycling for the Salt Lake City Deseret News