Remembering and Honoring Christy Guzzetta

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Date: 
Saturday, July 23, 2022 - 3:15pm
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On Behalf of New York Cycle Club, we remember and honor our dear friend, Christy Guzzetta

Christy was a beloved member of the NYCC community for more than 40 years. One of the club’s first Lifetime Members, his many contributions to the club included founding the A-SIG training program in 1986 and serving as the club’s president in both 1988-1990 and 2016-2018.

In 1986, Christy caught the attention of Jody Sayler, a pretty cyclist that he met in Central Park, by telling her a fanciful tale about a cycling training program run by NYCC. No such program existed, but Christy laid out a training plan that would allow him to ride with Jody on seventeen consecutive weekends. As he later told it, he put a notice about the just-invented A-SIG program into the NYCC Club Bulletin only to make his story credible. Forty cyclists showed up to the first ride, and eight graduated from the program that year. Christy and Jody fell in love and married in 1991. 
 
The success of the A-SIG program led to the creation of the B-SIG, C-SIG, and D-SIG. Hundreds of cyclists have now completed these programs, which provide both foundational cycling skills and an introduction into the broader cycling community. 
 
Following the formation of the SIG, Christy twice served as NYCC president. He was known for the zest that he brought to the role, exemplified both by the warmth with which he invited others to get involved in the club and by the playful messages that he frequently sent out to the membership. 
 
Christy's warmth extended far beyond his official roles. Christy was a joyful presence in our lives, with an infectious sense of fun and a knack for eliciting smiles. He was generous with his affections and the first to cheer on new members or visit an injured cyclist in the hospital. His friendship will live on in the memory of all who knew him and in the NYCC community he did so much to build.
 
Christy will be remembered for his deep love for his wife, his zest for life, and the enthusiasm with which he gave back to the cycling community. “I got to marry the most exciting, fascinating, prettiest girl in the whole wide world. And . . . I got to be President of the New York Cycle Club - not once, but twice,” Christy once wrote on the club website. "One person shouldn't ought to have that much good fortune in their life."
  
With deep sadness,
Leora Rosenberg
President


 

Following Christy's passing, we invited the NYCC community to share their memories with us. The collection of letters and photographs that follow are one of the ways in which we honor our dear friend." Here are some photos and memories shared by members, friends and family.


I am Christy's sister, Doris Masback.  He has often told me about the "bike club" and how much he loved all of the members.  Christy would always talk about the Sig rides and was so proud of the folks who joined him and Jody for the ride.  Then, again, my brother loved everyone who enjoyed life and I will miss him so very much.

If it wasn't for the NYCC, I wouldn't have such a loving sister-in-law

Doris Guzzetta Masback

On a lark, way back in March 2000, I signed up for the A-SIG Classic not knowing anything about the program or its history, or the NYCC for that matter. Little did I know what I'd stepped into, how profoundly my life would change upon joining the club. I came to the NYCC as an experienced cyclist but a rather shy individual. The SIG welcomed me in and made me a leader for the next year. I also quickly found myself conscripted as the NYCC Webmaster and all of a sudden found myself a part of the inner workings of the club. I’d never done anything like this before and I had a lot of growing up to do. A constellation of mentors brought me along and served as inspirations. Christy Guzzetta figured high in that firmament. 

To get back to the A-SIG Classic, at the turn of the millennium, Christy Guzzetta and Jody not only still led it but shepherded along the growth and development of it. Christy cherished how each new captain brought fresh ideas to the program. He also acknowledged the limit of his own abilities. The SIGs evolved and changed over time. Regular turnover of the captains allowed new policies to surface and gel. Not everything worked, but the good stuff stuck. Yet the SIG also needed a reliable backbone over the years, an enthusiastic, indefatigable backer, and Christy and Jody filled that role. The 2001 preseason A-SIG leader meeting took place in a board room in Rockefeller Center, where Christy had his office. I learned that the program was really about fostering group riding skills. Of course we rode fast and hard and for longer distances as the weeks progressed, but Christy always circled back to this group riding thing. He emphasized that the A-SIG Classic existed primarily to foster a group orientation in each rider, turning each participant into what we refer to as “Great Wheels”, meaning those sorts of riders always cognizant and supportive of others, the kind of riders that everyone wants to ride with. 

Christy damn-straight mentored me and he did it in his own unique, atypical way. Sometimes he was too much. He had a temper that you did not want to get on the wrong side of. He might also stick stubbornly to his own ideas, but mostly he surprised us all with how forcefully he could repeatedly put himself out there. Captains headed up the program and a network of volunteers attended to all the necessary functions, but Christy figured as the heart and soul that kept everything spinning. He didn’t do this quietly or shyly. At club meetings and SIG functions he leapt forward to give speeches and tell stories. He knew the value of entertainment and surprised us constantly with props, gags, stunts, off-color jokes, sequined costumes and unusual points of view. During rides if you sat at his table at the lunch stop he directed the conversation and it all pivoted off his oversized persona. What an example!

Late in 2003 when then A-SIG Classic Captain Frank Grazioli let us know that he would not return in the next year, I timorously suggested to Christy that I might take over as Captain. Christy hemmed and hawed, interviewed me vigorously and eventually agreed to give me a try. I then realized that I had to learn to speak in front of people, entertain them, stretch and grow unlike I’d never done before. Who better than Christy to inspire you in that direction? O Captain! My Captain! We will miss you!

Ultimately, I’ve come to appreciate Christy’s fearless self-promotion as all in the service of the group. He put himself forward, but he did this to advance us all. He passionately loved the NYCC and reached out, constantly meeting and greeting, a P.T. Barnum-like ambassador for the club. 

I last saw Christy and Jody when I visited NYC in December, 2021. We had dinner at Harvest Kitchen on Columbus where they had a table, our-table, in the corner. The waiters knew them and the owner came over to chat with them with great familiarity for a good long while. That was totally Christy. The warmth and engagement loomed in this monumental way. I got no sense at all that this would serve as my last meeting with him. We had many more such meals in the works and next time, Christy and Jody admonished me, I had to bring Paula. Sadly, that won’t happen. Yet it doesn’t matter. That Christy spirit lives on in all of us. As we sling our legs over top tubes and gather together at far flung watering holes let us all greet each other with that same bonhomie, interest, imagination and enthusiasm. Christy has instilled in all of us his legacy and it has legs. 

Timothy McCarthy

In December 2011, Christy hosted a ride to Cold Spring and a pizza party at his house to mark the visit of former A-Classic leader Timothy McCarthy. Timothy had moved to California four months earlier, then returned to New York to visit me since we had managed to become involved (at the NYCC West Point trip) a month before he left town.   I knew Christy, in fact, I’d interviewed him and Jody for the NYCC 75th anniversary video series, but being a B rider, I certainly had never ridden with him. So, imagine the intimidation I felt when he and I ended up in the same group on that long, cold ride to Cold Spring. For many miles, Christy was immediately behind me. I was freaking out with nerves. Somehow, I held on. And then we got to around 10 miles outside Cold Spring. The group had splintered, but Christy and I were still together, this time with him at the front. And he just high-tailed it down 9D, while I expended every last ounce of energy and determination I could summon to hang on. It was the bike fight of my life … until the 12 weeks that came later, thanks (or blame) to Christy.  A few days after that, he sent me a note. “You could do the A-Classic!!” he said. (Remember, I was a B-17 rider).   He praised my bike handling and form, and my ability to hang on to a wheel for dear life. He noted that it would take A LOT of work (the understatement of the century) but he was convinced that I could do it.  I was floored. I was a B rider; I liked being a B rider; I had no interest in all that hard-ass stuff of what was then the A-19 and certainly not the A-Classic. TIMOTHY was A-Classic. Not me. (As my dear boyfriend would later agree.) Nonetheless. I taped that note to my computer at work, and looked at it every day all winter. I rose early to do cold training rides on River Road, sometimes alone and sometimes with a group. I worked my ass off. I kept wanting to give up. And then I would look at that note again. And again and again and again. What kept me going was that Christy had faith in me. (Also, I didn’t want to let him down.)  And somehow, on a memorable May day that I never would have dreamed of if not for Christy, I rode triumphantly over the GWB knowing that in just a few miles, I would be an A-Classic graduate (and participant leader, even).  Even now, I get teary thinking about it. That was all Christy (OK, a little me.) He saw something in me, he encouraged me, he pushed me, he checked in periodically, he pushed some more and in the end, I did something I never would have dreamed of if not for that ride to Cold Spring with him.   He was all joy and all heart, the most caring and generous guy on the planet. He, along with Jody, was the embodiment of the NYCC. Words don’t describe how deeply the two of them enriched me. When you were with Christy and Jody, life was the greatest.   A few years after that life-changing ride to Cold Spring, Timothy and I had moved to Seattle. We returned to visit NYC, and did another ride and pizza gathering at Jody and Christy’s. Later as Timothy and I strolled the High Line in Manhattan shortly before heading to the airport for our flight west, Christy called from Cold Spring. He had my ID and credit card, which I’d left at his house in a musette bag.    There was no way we could get to Cold Spring and back in time for our flight. So Christy, being Christy, immediately hopped into his car and drove all the way to Manhattan with my ID to salvage our trip back to Seattle. That’s who he was. All heart. And there are SO MANY stories like that. Christy was much, much bigger than life.  One more thing. As I said, Christy sent me check-in notes during my A-Classic endeavors. At one point, I emailed him expressing grave doubts about my ability to hang with the A-Classic folks. Christy responded:   Did I yell at you yet? Just in case I haven’t, I am now. Ready? Attitude. . .  you need attitude. You’re already a great athlete.  Your form is excellent and getting better.  You’re working out and getting in better and better shape. All you need now is attitude. Instead of I will not be able to keep up with this group, it needs to be, I’ll be fine, I’ll figure out a way to keep up with this group. Just like you did that ride we did together back in early December. Ride conservatively, don’t take any pulls and get on a good wheel and stay with it.  Just like you did on that ride to my house. If you have any gas left on the way home, you can take a pull then.  The goal is to be there at the end of the ride. Suck wheel, ride within yourself, just like that time we were doing 24 mph on 9D to my house.  On my wheel.  In the slipstream.  Sucking wheel.  Get to the end with the group.  And don’t ever let me hear you say, I will not be able to keep up with this group. Ever! Don’t get me mad, now. . . you know how I get when I’m mad. 

Paula Froke

While my grandfather taught me how to ride a bike, Christy taught me how to be a cyclist. Since childhood, Christy had been my father’s best friend and while that description is perfectly accurate, it doesn’t scratch the surface of his influence on my life or the totality of our relationship. When I was younger, I used to call him an uncle. Eventually I landed on godfather (reminding him of his Mafioso background he liked that), but ultimately it didn’t matter. He was family.   By all accounts, I’m a new cyclist. Despite being an athlete my entire life, I was introduced to the sport during COVID by Christy. In the 2020 season, Christy and I were committed to riding with one another every weekend. Every Saturday/Sunday it was the two of us. Sometimes it was 4, 5, even +6 hours, just me and him. My own personal SIG with the guy who founded it all.   That year, at 70 years old, Christy clocked in over 6000 miles. To cap off the season, we rode a classic century ride up Bear Mountain and back. Still to this day, I don’t know who was happier when my computer hit 100 miles.    Above my bike rack is a picture of him, dressed head-to-toe in a Richard Sachs kit, standing in front of Hither Hills State Park in Montauk. A part of him will be on the road with me every time I’m out there.   He’ll be missed deeply and remembered fondly.  

Nick Tatti

My memories of Christy span decades.  I remember in the mid-'80's his organizing the SIGs for the NYCC at a time when I thought those things were just what computer geeks did in the old dial-up days to share their techhie tips.  A few years on, my wife and fellow NYCC member Theresa, and I hosted a BBQ at our upstate house for NYCC participants in one of the early Berkshire Weekends.  I remember it was Christy who cranked up the tunes and turned our backyard deck into a dance floor.  Then, many years later, at one of those Berkshire Weekends, I joined up on Christy's "A" ride.  After a while, while pedaling together, I asked if he knew anyone riding during the week in NYC and he put me in touch with a bunch of fellow "retirees" with whom I still ride on many weekdays.  The last time I saw Christy was in the Fall last year when he and Jody were grabbing a bite at Runcible and we chance encountered on one of our mid-week Nyack rides.  He was riding his old trusty steel steed that day and we reminisced about "the old days and old gear".  He will be missed.

George Schnepf

I knew of Christy for at least a year before I met him.  When I joined NYCC 40 years ago I fell in with a bunch of A riders who told me how much fun it used to be riding with this guy Christy in previous seasons.  But Christy had relocated to another city, so I missed out and Christy was just a figure in my imagination. Christy moved back to NYC a year or two later, so I finally had the chance to see for myself that my riding friends were not exaggerating.  His warmth, humor, magnetism and his pure joy of riding was infectious.  Then he met my friend Jody Saylor, they got married, they invented the SIGs to share the joy of cycling with others, and the rest is NYCC history. I moved north around 32 years ago, and other endeavors took the place of my riding with the club.  However, there was a notable exception worth mentioning. Even with hundreds of rides, and thousands of miles, there are some rides and some moments that are unforgettable. About twelve years ago, Alex Bekkerman, Alan Zindman and I (team: Schmo) met with Jody and Christie for a ride starting in Cold Spring.  A fast 40-miles through country roads, breathlessly speeding through hills and valleys, leaning into sweeping turns in a tight single rotating paceline.  It felt perfect, like old times, like no time had passed at all.  Pure joy.  My condolences to Jody, their family, NYCC and the entire cycling community.   

Josh Keller

I'm broken up about hearing of Christy Guzzetta's untimely passing. Partly, of course, because like many, I'm sure, I didn't see this coming. In the 23 years of my membership in the NYCC, Christy & Jody were two of my very first acquaintances.  Early on, the encouragement he offered to new members, his ability to make you feel that you were a valued member of the club, his constant encouragement and enthusiasm, and his genuine devotion to the NYCC set him apart. He was a spokesperson, cheerleader, ambassador, ride leader, and a constant presence at so many club activities and social events. When Christy asked you to help out or to volunteer on behalf of the club, how could you refuse, knowing how much he had invested in the success of our small tribe of cycling enthusiasts? Indeed, on many occasions when he asked me step out of my comfort zone (being shy, reticent, unwilling to draw attention to myself) invariably these moments made me feel worthy and confident. Dozens of rides, festive weekends at the Thayer Hotel in West Point, several times when rides ended in Cold Spring (not to be left off at the MNRR train station, btw, but ending @ Christy & Jody's lovely country house with pizza & beer - in fact, the worst kept secret was that when Christy & Jody listed such a ride, you knew what they had in mind . . . ) Christy, my dear friend, I'm afraid you've left us with some very big shoes to fill. God bless you.

David Sabbarese

The year was 2010 and I was planning a run for club president when Christy called me. Let’s have lunch, he said. Christy couldn’t have known much about me.  But I knew about him, a storied club member, former NYCC President, founder of the SIG, and driver of club traditions. He knew I might run and began to grill me as we sat to lunch. Don’t you think it’s a young person’s game? "We're too old," he said. I had to laugh. Christie had the energy of a kid.  And public speaking is involved, he said.  My Achilles heel and Christy knew it. You’ll have to learn how, He said. He mentioned the club’s 75th anniversary. He wanted a proper celebration.   Altogether it was a pleasant lunch. Only later did I realize what he was up to.  Making sure his beloved club would be in good enough hands. Over the years we didn’t always agree but my respect for Christy and what he accomplished never wavered.  He poured his heart and soul into NYCC and changed the club.  

Ellen Jaffe

I was on the NYCC Board for Christy's second go around as president. Christy was a warm, charismatic leader who went out of his way to make all feel welcome. He rode with me several times on the rides I led and could not have been nicer, introducing himself to all the riders and hearing about what they liked about the NYCC. I have a place in my heart for Christy, and am saddened that I will not see him on the road.

I will see you in Valhalla my friend and we will tip our glasses to our fallen comrades.

Christopher Hartmann

Christy was the heart and soul of the NYCC for so many years. He was always enthusiastic about his different roles in the club and always gave a 100% effort. My favorite memory of Christy was a few years ago when he asked me if he could ride with all of the different groups in the C SIG. "I want to ride with you, Sosi and True!" he exclaimed with enthusiasm. I reluctantly agreed, but I after a while it became apparent that he was a welcome addition to our leader corps. He was always there to add support to our riders as well as share his riding and mechanical expertise on a number of occasions all with good cheer.  At the SIG graduation ceremony we presented him a C-SIG diploma which he really seemed to get a kick out of. I was also thrilled when Jody and Christy accepted my invitation to my 70th birthday dinner party celebration.  We weren't really close friends; we didn't spend time together other than club events, but when I heard the terrible news I felt the loss deeply. He was family. My heart goes out to Jody.

Paul Hofherr

I remember Christy as a warm, gregarious individual with enormous enthusiasm for the NYCC. In his last go-around as president of the club he made a point to ride with various B SIG groups just to be friendly and make the newbies feel welcome and included. Accompanying us with friendliness, wit and charm, you'd never have known that he was riding at half of his true pace. A wonderful guy that will be missed.

Fred Leffel

"Sure!  If you're game, we are.  Come join us!"  Christy's words--my introduction--to him when I asked to join the A-Classic as a rookie cyclist.  Warm and welcoming is how I will always remember him. He looked out and cheered for the underdog.

He came out of SIG retirement to help lead the A-Classic in 2011.  

Mitch Rubenstein

As some of the last few stragglers finishing the 100mile 2018 GFNJ, Christy & Jody kindly saved me a plate from the BBQ table that was closing up, and we ate under the Morristown trees in the setting sun light. A warm sunset to remember indeed.

Peter Sherman Crosby

 

Remembering and Honoring Christy Guzzetta
07.23.2022
3:15pm
cycling trips