By Jared Eborn
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, a professional cyclist 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 everyone.”
McGinnis was also instrumental in turning the Tour of Utah into one of the biggest bicycle races in the country, attracting many of the nation’s top teams with its challenging terrain and demanding routes.
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.
“Over the last couple of years, since he was diagnosed, he wasn’t able to race much,” former teammate and friend Dave Harward said. “But he still did so much and was such a huge part of bringing cycling’s focus to Utah.”
McGinnis, who leaves behind his wife, Cindy, and two children, was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago. At the time, Harward said, doctors told McGinnis he had only a matter of months to live.
Still, with 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 in between as the Tour of Utah welcomed hundreds of professionals to the Wasatch Front.
Harward, who said he visited with McGinnis personally on Friday, said his love for bicycling 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.”
Under his leadership, the Tour of Utah grew from a nearly dead race in 2007 to an event at the top of the National Racing Calendar’s priority list.
“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.”
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.”
Like so many of us, T Mac lived and breathed cycling. I wasn’t as close with T Mac as many of the Utah cycling community were, but I can say I don’t remember ever hearing a negative comment coming from the man. Something we can all aspire to.
Rest In Peace, Terry.