Mountain biker Kelly McGarry remembered with festival and foundation

Kelly McGarr goes over a jump during the finals of the Red Bull Rampage on October 16, 2015 in Virgin, Utah.
Ezra Shaw

Kelly McGarr goes over a jump during the finals of the Red Bull Rampage on October 16, 2015 in Virgin, Utah.

It was the habit of Queenstown mountain bike legend Kelly McGarry to compete overseas during the New Zealand winter and come back home shredding in summer.

The fact that he didn't return this year has left a big hole for his friends.

McGarry, also known as 'McGazza', died from a cardiac arrest on the Fernhill Loop Track, in Queenstown, on February 1.

Kelly McGarry's friends and McGazza foundation members Blair Christmas, Emmerson Wilken and Fraser Gordon.
Dasha Kuprienko / Fairfax NZ

Kelly McGarry's friends and McGazza foundation members Blair Christmas, Emmerson Wilken and Fraser Gordon.

His friends are determined that his legacy will remain and have created the Kelly McGarry Foundation to foster mount bike trail building and sport talent in New Zealand in his memory.

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*Mountain biking festival organised in memory of Queenstown's Kelly McGarry
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Members Fraser Gordon, Blair Christmas and Emmerson Wilken said McGarry brought the Queenstown mountain biking community closer.

Kelly McGarry was known worldwide for the best trick award in the 2013 Red Bull Rampage when he backflipped a 21m canyon ...
Dasha Kuprienko / Fairfax NZ

Kelly McGarry was known worldwide for the best trick award in the 2013 Red Bull Rampage when he backflipped a 21m canyon gap on this bike.

"After his death there's been a profound effect on entire community. It was unreal," Christmas said.

"For a few weeks everyone came together and all bulls*** that can cloud a sport like that went out the window."

Wilken said McGarry was 'everyone's friend' no matter if he passed you on the track a few times or knew you for years.

Already a local legend, in 2013 McGarry landed a backflip over a 21-metre canyon gap at the Red Bull Rampage in the United States. He placed second, won the best-trick award and people's choice award, propelling him to worldwide fame.

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The video of the jump has had 32,388,407 views on YouTube. 

However, despite being recognised internationally, McGarry was down to earth and would never turn down a high five from a stranger, his friends said.

"You didn't even get the scale of how big he was unless you hung out with him overseas," Gordon said.

"He had none of that pretentious dribble that can happen in those atmospheres. He was just always relaxed and personable," Christmas said.

McGarry would always help his mountain biking crew and the new foundation aimed to give back to the mountain biking community too.

The foundation's goals are based on the plans McGarry shared with his friends.

He wanted to build a back country mountain biking track with a hut in the Wakatipu area, go on big adventures and enjoy good banter.

"He was a professional rider for over ten years and it was heavily competition based for him and as he was getting older he really enjoyed the missions and adventures of getting away," Gordon said.

The foundation was working towards establishing the hut and had scheduled the adventures and banter for January 27 with the launch of the three-day McGazza Fest.

It would include a train at the top of the Skyline, a Fernhill Loop Ride, McGarry's memorial unveiling,  a train at the Wynyard, a fundraising dinner and big jumps on Gorge Rd on the last day.

"A lot of it is about meeting somewhere and just going for a ride. 

"There will be a lot of people that are more fans than friends, but also want to come down here and be a part of. Because he was a big deal you could say," Gordon said.

Two weeks ago, McGarry's friends also built and transported a 750kg table to the top of the Fernhill Loop Track, where the biker passed away.

"A big table for a big personality," Gordon said.

 - Stuff

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