McGazza’s memory – stars jet in for 3-day fest

Carson Storch at last year's McGazzaFest PICTURE: CALLUM WOOD

World-class mountain bike stars and locals are set to celebrate the life of their late friend and inspiration Kelly McGarry.

Red Bull Rampage US riders Tyler McCaul, Carson Storch and Ryan Howard will all compete in the three-day McGazzaFest in Queenstown from tomorrow.

Frenchman Antoine Bizet has also signed up.

McCaul was a good friend of McGarry’s.

“It’s been said time and time again already since Kelly’s passing, but Kelly was the man. That’s the only way to put it.

“He always told me I need to make it down to Queenstown to ride there with him, and I regret never making it there while he was still around.”

Howard says McGarry put New Zealand on the biking map.

He’s also a Queenstown fan.

“I always tell people that hands down it’s my favourite place in the world to ride. Skyline has some of the best downhill terrain and the Gorge Road dirt jumps are a masterpiece with so many lines and tonnes of flow.” As a nod to McGarry he’ll stick around for the rest of the summer.

Kelly McGarry Foundation boss Fraser Gordon says the calibre of those competing is fitting.

While he’s excited, emotions are tinged with sadness.

“Obviously if Kelly was still here then none of this would be happening and you do get a lump in your throat,” Gordon says.

“But we know we are doing what Kelly would want us to do. He wouldn’t want us to be mourning, he would want us to be out there celebrating and having fun.”

This year it’s hosting a mega avalanche race. He reckons it could get a bit “tasty” at the start-line.

“McGazza always loved those mass start, duelling-type races with other riders so we thought it would be a fitting thing to do for him.

“It is a race but, like everything, McGazzFest isn’t to be taken that seriously – it is all about having fun and a ride, keeping his legacy alive. Everyone getting together to remember him. He had such a big influence on people’s lives.”

The ‘McGazzalanche’ will start at the top of the Fernhill Loop track and make its way down to One Mile.

Also new – a group ride at Coronet Peak on Sunday ahead of the Gorge Road Jump Jam. Gordon: “It is an iconic Queenstown ride.

“For a lot of people coming in to the area from outside we feel it is pretty cool for them to go and experience that ride. Rude Rock is probably the most famous ride in Queenstown.”

McGazzaFest kicks off with a Mega-train from Hammy’s Track, tomorrow, 6.30pm.