By Bill Cutting — The 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah represents the ninth edition of an event that began in 2004 as a regional, primarily amateur bike race. Today, the Tour of Utah has the distinction of being one of only four internationally-sanctioned, multi-stage, American pro cycling events. It attracts a worldwide base of sponsor-partners and viewers, thanks to 18 hours of live television coverage via the FOX Sports Network, along continuous, real-time streaming video that reaches every part of the globe. Best of all, the Tour of Utah is a family-friendly, action packed and invigorating way to spend a summer afternoon.
Having said that, let’s not forget that, as Utahans, we have the privilege of being able to experience this remarkable sporting event from beginning to end, in our own backyard. And that backyard happens to be one of the most perfectly magnificent places to ride a bike that exists on the earth. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best ways for a local to experience–and enjoy–the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (August 5-11). Make no mistake: if your plan is to belly up to one or more of the barriers and enjoy the race in the way that most choose, you’ll have a great time. But choosing one or more of the options in this list could just earn you the status of a true-blue tifosi.
- VIP Hospitality Pass: A new spin on watching a pro bicycle race is from a start and/or finish line hospitality tent. Be your own VIP and purchase a ticket for one day, or all six. This race experience includes gourmet food, assorted beverages, flat screen TVs to watch the race via Tour Tracker® powered by Adobe right next to the finish line area, along with hundreds of like-minded fans. www.tourofutah.com/2013/tour-experiences
- Volunteer: Join the Tour – there are 1,000 volunteer positions needed to make this UCI 2.1-rated stage race a success. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to assist and enjoy the race. Go online, select one or more days and find the perfect spot to be part of the action. www.tourofutah.com/2013/volunteer.
- Team Presentation – Utah Shakespeare Festival: The popular Team Presentation Ceremony will take place on August 5 in the world-renowned Adams Theatre on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City. This open-air structure is patterned after drawings and research of sixteenth century Tudor stages. Take photos of your favorite riders and enjoy the introductions and interviews with all the top athletes from sixteen pro teams. Follow it up with a ticket to the VIP Reception or enjoy a performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost, at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. http://www.bard.org
- Southern Utah Cycling Adventure: Make it a holiday – enjoy the pro race and the beautiful scenery of southern Utah from your own bicycle. Register for this 5-day, 4-night, 3-National Parks guided Jemison Cycling Tour for Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah – Southern Utah Cycling Adventure: a once-in-a-lifetime experience! www.tourofutah.com/2013/tour-experiences
- Up Close and Personal Viewing Experiences: Reservoir Park is an incomparable viewing area for Stage 4 (Aug. 9) in Salt Lake City. City Weekly is hosting a Party in the Park, where you can see the peloton rip by five times for the late-day circuit race (5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.). The following day, park yourself at the Swamp Lot (Wasatch Blvd. between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons) for a similar viewing opportunity, hosted by MediaOne from about 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
- Escalante Beer Garden: A great viewing area for Stage 2 (Aug. 7) will be the Beer Garden in this unbelievably scenic town on Highway 12. It’s an easy drive south of Torrey (race finish that day), and surrounded by great places to hike and bike. Grab a brew and enjoy the view. Times and location TBD.
- Tour de France Viewing Party: Get in gear – prep for a great Tour of Utah by attending the Tour de France Viewing Party on Thursday, July 18, Miller Megaplex Theaters in the Gateway. It’s free from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. to watch Stage 18 live on a big screen. It’s the epic climbing day that features a double ascent of Alpe d’Huez! Join us for Sunrise with the Tour and prize giveaways all morning, hosted by the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. You’ll see some of the teams that will race in Utah.
- Sign Up for the Tour Newsletter: Tour organizers want to make this the best race and rolling festival to date, so we keep adding fun activities for the whole family. Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Pinterest and our web site for all the updates! www.tourofutah.com
- Autograph Alley: The best place to get an autograph or a close-up photo of your favorite rider is at the KJZZ Autograph Alley! For an hour prior to each stage start, each professional cyclist will walk along the KJZZ Autograph Alley to sign in for the race and talk with the race announcer. Free and fun for all ages.
- Tour Tracker Powered by Adobe®: download this incredible application to your mobile device to get comprehensive live coverage of all six stages, including broadcast video, real-time GPS location, speed, slope and elevation data, and social media feeds. Check out Tour Tracker powered by Adobe at the Tour web site. And don’t forget, you can still link to our real-time coverage, start to finish, from our website. www.tourofutah.com.