When we think about Kelly McGarry, many memories flood to mind. For me, I remember first-hand watching him guinea pigging the Crankworx Rotorua slopestyle course and hollering the whole way down it. For others, it might be watching him backflipping a canyon, or dropping down a gnarly scree line in his hometown of Queenstown, New Zealand. For every person, whether they are a local, a fellow pro-rider or a bike enthusiast, they each have their own fond memory of Kelly.
Riders from all around the world converged on Queenstown this weekend to take part in celebrating Kelly's life, share memories and ride bikes in the same fashion and places that he loved so dearly.
The second annual McGazza Fest ran over the course of three days, covering everything from jump jams to trail rides, mass start races and social beers at his favourite pub.
This is McGazza Fest 2018. McGazza Forever.
The festivities got underway on Friday afternoon with a mega train from the top of Skyline. This was the first chance for many to catch up and all be in the same place together. Spirits were high and so was the stoke.
The locals came prepared with dust masks. Smart.
With a taste of what was to come firmly cemented, Day 2 kicked off with a bang. What better way to see in a manic day than with a mass start downhill race from the top of Fernhill. With the start line set, riders had to make the hour-odd journey up to the McGazza Memorial Table, before dropping in at 2 pm.
With no one in a hurry, it gave everyone a chance to stop and take in the surroundings.
The journey up to Fernhill offered little escape from the blazing sun, but a small pocket of beech trees provided the perfect amount of relief from the heat.
After a hectic and relatively uneventful McGazzalanche, everyone rolled back up the hill for what was to be the highlight event of the whole fest. Dream Track, situated at Wynyard Crescent, has long been the proving ground for the local big-bike huckers and offers the largest jumps anywhere in New Zealand.
After a successful and epic jam at the Dream Track, the party continued well into the small hours of Sunday morning. Thankfully the memorial ride to the top of Coronet Peak didn't start until late, offering everyone a chance to regroup and recompose before the last day of the Fest.
Commonly referred to as 'heaven' or 'paradise', Gorge Road was one of Kelly's favourite places to ride with his friends, so it was fitting that the Jump Jam was the closeout event of the weekend. Jumping, spinning and drinking until the sun went down on a hot summers day.
Who spun better?
First and foremost, the people are what really make McGazza Fest the best event on the New Zealand calendar, but the open schedule allows for plenty of opportunities to go out on your own rides, too. With the sunsets being so epic and having had a taste of the Coronet Peak goodness already, I had to close out the weekend with a quick sunset lap up Rude Rock.