McGarry, Kiwi biker with local ties, dead at 33 |

McGarry, Kiwi biker with local ties, dead at 33

Hank Shell
Kelly McGarry at Winter Park Resort in an undated photo.
Photo Courtesy of Brian Torchia |

Kelly McGarry, a professional mountain biker with deep roots in Grand County, died while biking in his native New Zealand on Monday, Feb. 1.

McGarry, 33, suffered a heart attack while riding near Queenstown on the country’s South Island, the New Zealand Herald reports.

“There are only a few people that you come in contact with in your life that just are so incredibly positive and so incredibly good spirited and just generally happy, and Kelly was one of them,” said Trestle Bike Park Manager Bob Holme. “He would light up a room whenever he walked in with his awesome smile.”

Holme first met McGarry about a decade ago when the young athlete came to Winter Park to compete in Crankworx Colorado, now the Colorado Freeride Festival.

“Our relationship kind of developed from him being an athlete and taking part in the event to being and integral part of the design and the construction of the course for the last three or four years,” Holme said.

McGarry had a reputation as a gentle giant, Holme said, and was eminently approachable.

“He would be head down, sawing lumber for a feature, and some kid would walk by and say, ‘hey, Kelly, how are you?” Holme said. “And he would stop what he was doing and would give full attention to whoever he was talking to.”

Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park Resort’s communications director, said McGarry’s participation in Trestle’s events gave them another level of legitimacy in the public eye.

“We were starting this annual biking event and people were like, ‘who cares,’” Hurlbert said. “And then suddenly people were like, ‘Kelly McGarry is involved in this thing. It must be pretty legit.’”

Local downhill mountain biker Jacqueline Thomas said McGarry was a role model for riders at the park.

“He was a very friendly giant with the biggest heart who was ecstatic about biking and everyone who shared the same passion,” Thomas said. “He was always happy and stoked on life, and I never saw him without a smile.”

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010.

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