Tributes flow for legendary mountain biker

Kelly McGarry doing what he does best (Facebook)
Kelly McGarry doing what he does best (Facebook)

Tributes from around the world are flowing for legendary Kiwi mountain biker Kelly McGarry, who was said to have captured the true essence of mountain bike riding.

The 33-year-old died yesterday afternoon on the Fernhill Loop Track on Ben Lomond in Queenstown. St John flew to the scene and found him dead upon arrival. Police are now investigating the cause of death. 

The professional freerider, known for his big smile and bright curly hair, was loved in the mountain biking world. Fans and friends have taken to social media to express their disbelief and heartfelt messages for him.

His sponsor YT Industries has shut down their website in honour of Mr McGarry and have shown a photo of him with the message, "There are not many of your kind. We will miss you."

Fellow YT Industries rider Cam Zink said the following:

YT Industries said on their website he was the one of the most likeable mountain bike riders on the circuit.

"Shattering news out of New Zealand. Everybody at Kelly's bike sponsor YT, is deeply saddened and shocked by his death. A truly unique character has been lost today.

"We were informed about his death this morning and are petrified, shocked and heartbroken about losing one of our family members. Kelly was a warm-hearted, friendly and relaxed guy. He stood for the true essence of mountain biking through every aspect of his life."

Mr McGarry flipped his way into the history books in 2013 at the Red Bull Rampage, backflipping across a 72-foot canyon. In the same year he came ninth on the 2013 FMB World Tour.

Kiwi downhill mountain biker George Brannigan said Mr McGarry was a very genuine guy who always had a big grin on his face. 

"Everyone liked Kelly...he's a really passionate guy for mountain biking," he says.

"For freeride mountain biking in New Zealand he's, I guess you could say, a pioneer. He's one of the first guys to really go overseas and do it as a living as such. I think he inspired a lot of younger guys from New Zealand."

Organisers of Crankworx, a mountain biking festival event, released a statement saying they are shocked and saddened by the loss of one of their ambassadors and were sending their thoughts to Mr McGarry's family, friends and girlfriend. 

"Kelly was a pioneer slopestyle rider and a Crankworx legend, known as much for his big heart and ever-present smile as his epic air. The festival will not be the same without the sight of golden locks flowing from a lid mid-flip or his goofy grin at the finish line."

"Also a carpenter, the course he built with his friend and Elevate business partner, Tom Hey, for the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle is one of our best. He learnt a lot about slopestyle courses, having travelled the world competing for a decade, and knew what riders liked. It's hard to believe the charismatic, affable McGazza is no longer with us."

In an interview in 2014 with Dirt Mountain Bike Magazine, he was called a big friendly giant who had "flow and style" both on and off the bike.

Vital Mountain Bike wrote in a tribute, "the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long, the saying goes. A great rider and a great man."

Many have simply said, Ride in Peace.