As Soldier Hollow in the Heber Valley prepares to “welcome the world” for Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah on August 6, Tyler Bluth, of Heber, prepares for the ride of his life alongside the racers in the official Tour of Utah caravan.
For Bluth, who is an avid cycling fan, riding with the caravan means getting the chance to see and feel firsthand what a professional cyclist goes through, something his body won’t allow. In 1999, during his graduate school work Bluth was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28.
“This is definitely a bucket list thing for me,” said Bluth. “I have been following the Tour of Utah since its inception, so I’m pretty stoked.”
Multiple sclerosis is a disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body causing difficulty in muscular coordination, severe fatigue, and pain.
The news for a young active person working on a physical therapy degree was difficult to accept. Thinking that he would someday be confined to a wheelchair cycling has become a sort of mental and physical therapy for Bluth. He attributes cycling to his ability to walk today.
“I literally can’t run anymore because my legs will spasm too much, but riding has helped me stay healthy and stay active. A body in motion stays in motion,” he said.
Each stage of the tour is allotted one VIP car ride with the caravan. Riding in the caravan with stage 4 Bluth will get to see all the action as the race unfolds as they climb the hills and maneuver the curves of the route.
In addition to being a great fan of cycling, Bluth participates in the Harmons Best Dam Bike Ride in Logan, an annual fundraising event for multiple sclerosis treatment research. Bluth said the support from great family and friends helps him to complete the race each year.
During one particularly hot and windy race in Logan, Bluth’s team realized that he might not finish the 100 mile race. The team rallied around him by creating a wind break of sorts so he could keep riding. Though some suggested he could stop because he had already accomplished so much he wanted to continue. The last 10 miles were tough, but two friends helped to push Bluth to the finish line.
With a passion for cycling like his, riding with the tour caravan is an experience Bluth said he won’t soon forget and is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Tour of Utah. Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah will be on August 6 at Soldier Hollow in the Heber Valley doors open at 8 am, race starts at 9:30 am and finishes around 2:30 pm.