panizzaDicembre 1975, a Gorla Maggiore (Va) c’era la folla delle grandi occasioni. L’umidità e il freddo facevano ghiacciare la punta dei nasi, ma ogni bambino si divertiva a fare il fumo con la bocca: e anch’io quel giorno avevo il mio bel divertimento, a bordo circuito. Tra la gente, dietro la fettuccia del percorso avevo la fortuna di aver la giusta statura per vedere tutto dal basso: mentre i grandi si accalcavano, io restavo seduto su un tronco tagliato e guardavo attraverso le gambe del pubblico. E da là sotto li scorgevo quasi tutti, vedevo i giganti del cross: e molti avevo imparato persino a riconoscerli, dalle cartoline ufficiali che collezionava mio padre. C’erano i fratelli De Vlaeminck, c’era Vagneur, c’era il vecchio Longo: tutti fortissimi, velocissimi nel fango, sull’erba, bici in spalla. E visti da un bambino di quasi cinque anni erano davvero come gli eroi del West, tutti cow boy, tra la folla che urlava e, a ogni passaggio, faceva emozionare. Anche il loro rumore sul terreno, come una mandria di cavalli in corsa, mi faceva emozionare.

E poi c’era Panizza, quello che non si arrendeva mai, su ogni terreno: anche lì, sul circuito di Gorla, dove l’odore del fango si mischiava all’aroma piacevole degli aghi di pino. Panizza, stradista e crossista, quello che non si arrendeva mai, nemmeno a De Valeminck, che sembrava grande il doppio. Maglia Brooklyn e sguardo fiero: ed io, lì in basso, emozionato. “Papà, la foto, fammi la foto”. Un click e il tempo si ferma. Miro, il mio gigante, chi se lo scorda più.

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