Sunday, May 22, 2011
It could be something from Science Fiction, as in...
Han Solo stopped for lunch on Planet Zoncolan.
The villagers ran for cover at the sight of Zoncolan, the fiery dragon.
The left-wing crowd marched on the square, carrying signs proclaiming their candidate, Zoncolan.
But no, it comes from the world of cycling! The Monte Zoncolan is one of the toughest mountains in the 2011 Giro d'Italia, and, as Universal Sports commentator Todd Gogulski described it: "One of the most wicked climbs in all of cycling".
The road to the top winds through green forests, dark tunnels, and treeless heights. It's so narrow that team cars have to be left at the base while mechanics follow their riders on motorbikes. One of those motorbikes couldn't take the 22% grade and broke down in a great puff of smoke. I imagine some of the riders were ready to do the same.
There's something very Italian about the Zoncolan climb. The motorbikes were chugging away behind the riders, the spare bikes were draped precariously over the mechanics' shoulders, protests on an earlier climb led to the Zoncolan being routed earlier into the stage, the fans were wild, and the scenery was stunning -- all of which gave it a feeling of controlled chaos peppered with so much passion and love.
And then there's that wonderful word ... Zoncolan. It just doesn't look right in boxy print. It needs to have a darker edge to it, like something hastily painted on the side of a wall late at night when no one's looking.
Rather than paint a realistic scene from the climb, all I wanted to do was write that word with the flair it deserves. So that's what I did, against a backdrop of those rich green and brown colors that make this singular mountain stage so beautiful.