Monday, February 6, 2017


The truth is that Marco Pantani was too small to play sports.  Always undersized, he got bullied.  He loved football, but it was too easy to push him around.  He was a thumbsucker until he was 8 years old, tiny but with huge ears, and he was injury prone - always trying a little too hard, and falling down.  He got hurt a lot, and he worried his mother sick.  He was simply too small to ever be the hero of his whole country.  So his mother bought him a bike and hoped it would calm him down.

The effect of that bike, of course, was not what she anticipated.  Undersized, but with a passion and wrecklessness that belied his tiny frame, Marco Pantani climbed.  Up, up, up, into a sport where, in fact, being small happened to be a gift, and right into history.  Because fuck all those people who say you can't.

If he were still alive today, Marco Pantani would have been 46 years old.  Of course, that was never going to happen.  He was hit by cars 3 times before he was even 15.  He started taking PED's in his early 20s.  His cocaine addiction, by most accounts, was legendary.  The kind of fire he had just burns too hot to last.  As Matt Rendell, his biographer, wrote about him, "Marco had no future tense."  He climbed like that.

Don't get me wrong: he was also a cheating monster with a bad attitude.  But to take on Lance Armstrong, I guess you had to be.

So this week - skinny grimpeurs, unite.  It's your sport, after all.

Sunday, 10 AM, Up, up, up.

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