A tribute to Kelly McGarry

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tribute_kellyMcGarryThe biking community lost one of their own on Feb.1’st. Kelly McGarry passed away suddenly while riding in Queenstown, New Zealand. Kelly was riding the remote Fernhill Loop when he collapsed from a possible heart attack.


The 33 year old was out on a photo shoot with two of his sponsors from YT bikes. The two called emergency services and applied medical but sadly Kelly succumbed to his injuries at the scene.


We lost not only a great rider but an amazing human being, McGazza stood 6ft 6″ tall with a smile that could light up a room. He passed doing something he loved, biking. From his early BMX days along with moto Kelly had a two wheel passion.


When he decided to be a pro freerider  and slopestyle contestant  in the FMB series he gave it everything. Never one to not be seen this gentle giant of a rider towered over the others. Everywhere he went fans stopped him for an autograph, he’d stop sign, chat and with a big Kiwi grin high five everyone.



You could always know it was Kelly on course with his mane of long blond hair flowing out the back of his helmet. He worked hard at becoming a pro rider and was the builder of the course for the first Crankworx event held in Rotorua,NZ.


I remember meeting Kelly at Red Bull house in Virgin, UT where he was getting his riding credentials and I was picking up my media pass. In limps this tall smiling guy with flowing blond locks, huge smile and a high five’s me, Hi ya Mate.


He was limping from a crash days before and asked if I needed a ride out to Rampage site. We piled into his old van that was his traveling home while in North America. On the bumpy drive into the site we talked about what he expected to accomplish at this years event. His answer was not much Mate, with this bum ankle I’m not sure if I can even ride but I’m gonna give it a shot. I later found out his ankle was broken but not his dream of competing in the biggest mountain bike event in the world.

Kelly Done

The following year Kelly was on the podium for Red Bull Rampage 2013 where he placed 2’nd for his ground breaking back flip over the 72′ canyon gap. His Go-Pro video would go on to get 28 million views, not bad for a washed up Kiwi Mtn biker he’d later say! When Rampage was moved to the new site on the other side of the mountain in 2014 Kelly returned to try the new canyon gap. This one didn’t go his way though, after coming up short and rag dolling after the crash he amazingly just stood up and dusted himself off.


This guy was invincible it seemed.  I meet him later in the riders tent, his face was beat up, his body sore but his attitude and passion was unharmed.

Yeah mate, he said I’m gonna giver er another go tomorrow.

That was the McGazza we’d seen over the years.


Kelly was involved in everything to do with mountain biking in his native New Zealand. From riding, competing and building he was a leader. He will be sorely missed by the riding community around the world. Few people achieve greatness but some are just great humans, Kelly McGarry was one of those special few.


Ride on McGazza, ride on, we’ll miss your smiling face.

Words and Photographs: Malcolm McLaws



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