Otago Daily Times

Talented rider remembered at McGazza Fest

- MATTHEW MCKEW matthew.mckew@odt.co.nz

HUNDREDS turned out to celebrate the incredible legacy of a Queenstown mountain bike rider who died in 2016.

Kelly “McGazza’’ McGarry was worldrenow­ned for his skills, and his backflip over a 22m canyon gap in 2013 has continued to rack up YouTube hits, reaching more than 196 million views.

The 33yearold’s legacy has survived through the Kelly McGarry Foundation, which each year runs the McGazza Fest in Queenstown.

Organiser Fraser Gordon said the threeday event had steadily grown each year, but the focus was to keep it relaxed and centred on honouring McGazza.

On Friday night, friends and fans donned their best fancy dress as their old pal, to ride their way down from Skyline Gondola to Atlas Beer Cafe.

Mr Gordon said there were plenty of long blonde wigs, while some of McGazza’s closest friends wore more intricate details, such as a bloody bandage.

“There was a while where Kelly had a wound on his elbow that never healed because he kept crashing on it.’’

On the Saturday, the rain held off and a jam session drew about 750 spectators and over hundred riders participat­ed at Fernhill Bike Park, Mr Gordon said.

“Everybody was absolutely stoked on it. It was probably one the best jams we have had so far.’’

He said the continued success of McGazza Fest showed the high regard in which the rider was held.

‘‘I think it’s kind of crazy, it surprises us now how much his legacy continues to grow. I think it’s a testimony to his drive and how revered he was a person and what he did for the sport.’’

It was an all Kiwi affair this year, as the usual internatio­nal riders were shut out at the borders, although people did travel from Auckland and Christchur­ch.

On Saturday night there was a party at Lone Star, while on

Sunday the memorial ride around Fernhill Loop was held.

It took in the spot where Mr McGarry died while riding in February 2013 and passed his memorial.

The day ended with a second jam at the Gorge Rd Jump Park.

 ?? PHOTOS: PHIL MCLEAN ?? Wheels up . . . Showing off their skills at the McGazza Fest in Queenstown on Saturday night are (left) Billy Meaclem and (from top right) Jai Motherwell, David McMillan and Matt Begg.
PHOTOS: PHIL MCLEAN Wheels up . . . Showing off their skills at the McGazza Fest in Queenstown on Saturday night are (left) Billy Meaclem and (from top right) Jai Motherwell, David McMillan and Matt Begg.
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