Duff Mckagan Guns N' Roses
"Kill me, I beg you. kill me kill me Please."
And while I was begging the doctors to kill me, they brought an ultrasound machine with which to check my burst pancreas. My childhood physician, Dr. Thomas, was in charge of evaluating the ultrasound images that were being taken at regular intervals in preparation for emergency intervention.
My pancreas had become inflamed and then ruptured. But now it was starting to twitch again. They put me on very high doses of morphine and Librium.
I will never forget the moment my mother came to see me at the hospital. Due to Parkinson's disease, he was in a wheelchair. There I was, her youngest son, with a morphine drip in my left arm and a Librium drip in my right, to control the tremors caused by alcohol withdrawal.
For the first few days I spent in the hospital, I didn't know if I was going to get over it, but if I did, I was determined to change my life. When I was discharged, Dr. Thomas asked me to come see him in his office.
"I've arranged for you to be admitted to a drug and alcohol detox center near Olympia," he told me. We can take you directly from here. I thanked him for everything he had done for me. "I think I can do it by myself," I told him.
At first I just used my old mountain bike because it helped prevent tremors, but it didn't take long for me to realize that riding made me feel better. And it kept me busy. The first days I dedicated myself to pedaling aimlessly, and I did not realize how long I had been outside until darkness surprised me. When I wanted to realize it, I was pedaling eight hours a day. Slowly, on the flat, but all day.
Every morning my muscles ached. He hadn't exercised in years. But the pain lifted my spirits. Not the humor, the mood.
My body was so damaged by the substances I had consumed that the only thing that kept me afloat was my spirits. The desire That was all I had left. After a week of long walks on the level, I began to set myself more difficult goals. Seattle is a city of steep slopes, and it was not difficult for me to find steeper and steeper slopes in which to test my resistance and my tolerance for pain. These increasingly harsh sessions came to represent a form of self-flagellation, a way of punishing myself for all the harm I had done to myself and others. I felt that this new form of healthy pain was tearing every muscle fiber, every neuron in my body. He was in explosive form. And I liked that. You may want to know what stage of the Tour de France Freddy Mercury was in
When I arrived in Los Angeles in June 1994, I had been clean for five weeks. Before going home I stopped by Bike Shack, a bike shop in Studio City. There I immediately noticed a sign-up sheet for a long-distance mountain bike race to be held in Big Bear, California.
The race was held after seven weeks. It included a category of beginners. I had never participated in a race or practiced any individual sport. The idea intimidated me a bit, but why not? I was riding my bike all day, so why not train to compete?
I thought maybe someone from the store could guide me. Also, if I signed up, I would have a specific reason to stay sober until a certain date. An objective.
Next I chose a mountain bike. Until now I had used a cheap steel bike, but now I decided to treat myself to one that I thought was magnificent: a Diamondback. And it is that now this was my thing, and I wanted a good bike.
I trained hard, drank a lot of water and watched my body lose the alcohol weight. During the three months that followed my acute pancreatitis, I lost over twenty kilos. I prayed to the hills that I rode my bike and developed a firm faith in the physical suffering of the present and the mental suffering of the past.
The bike race had become a symbol that went far beyond a thirty-kilometer route. Reaching that finish line would also mean having completed the first stage of a totally different route. One that began in a previous life and entered a different one, that led from despair to hope. Preparing for the Big Bear race was a fight for survival and sanity, and maybe, just maybe, it also represented the chance to rise to the challenge. The distance indicators of the race would represent for me, as a whole, the first milestone reached on the road to sobriety.
I knew that getting used to the altitude could be a couple of days' work. Big Bear's race route started at over eight thousand feet and went up to eight thousand feet. On Big Bear Mountain I found a bed and breakfast, and stayed there for the nights before the race.
On the eve of the race, Slash's guitar tech, Adam Day, had started pedaling with me, and on race day he came to cheer me on, a gesture of friendship I'll never forget.
As I lowered my bike from the rear rack of my van, I laughed to myself. I suddenly realized what a newbie I was. Of the thousands of people I saw there getting ready, I was the only one wearing high tops, cut-off jeans, and an inside-out baseball cap. Everyone else was wearing their cycling pants, their cleat shoes and their aerodynamic helmet. Their bikes were lean, lightweight machines made of titanium or carbon fiber, fitted with front and rear shocks. My Diamondback had no suspension system at all.
I was coming off as a rookie.
When the starting gun was fired, I was assaulted by a stampede of bikes that knocked me to the ground.
I remounted as best I could and joined the race. The first part of the course consisted of a brutally hard slope. That was my element. The climbs were my space of suffering. Suffering opened the doors of calm for me. I gritted my teeth and began the climb.
I started my career. It didn't take me long to pass the guys who had thrown me to the ground, with their clothes and their high-tech bikes. I kept pedaling, going up, and overtook more cyclists.
I was clearing out. I even started to enjoy the scenery. I understood how lucky I was to be there. I was beginning to have fun, to relax, and after twenty-five kilometers I saw opening before me, just for me, spaces crossed by open firebreaks, and I also made out the finish line a few kilometers below.
I smelled the burning earth and the aromatic bushes. The sun-drenched air seemed to give off its own fragrance. Perhaps the oppressive feeling of being locked in a glass cabinet had been imposed from the outside only to a certain extent. And though my pulse was racing from the exertion, the pounding in my chest didn't fill me with fear or paranoia, as it had when the frantic beating of a cocaine-pumped heart turned my stomach and sent me shivering with terror.
I left the crest of the route behind, and as I began to devour the last kilometers of the descent, I knew that I was going to finish that race.
There is no way to explain the euphoria I felt at that moment. So I knew that yes, my life was in my hands, that I could dictate its course, and that this crazy method that I had invented to overcome this without a center and without any detox program..., was working.
For now. I finished the race in 59th place out of the three hundred registered in the beginner category. The host. A miracle.
When I finished the race, I wandered around the food and drink stalls that had been set up for cyclists and the public. Bicycle brands had brought in their sponsors from professional cycling to promote their products. They could be asked for autographs. But I didn't know who they were.
Then one said to me: "Hey, man."
"Are you Duff?"
"Okay man, I'm Cully."
Then I realized that it was her face on the posters behind her. It turned out that he was a former world champion named Dave Cullinan. People looked at him with admiration. Being a newcomer to cycling, I was unaware of the magnitude of his successes. But since I realized that people were looking at him, I preferred to let them know.
Cully was fond of music. He had recognized me. I had long hair and tattoos, but I'm sure my stupid shorts and high-top Converse sang a lot more than all that ink. Something that was not intentional, of course. In fact, just taking part in the race scared me so much that the last thing I wanted was to attract attention.
"I've been competing in Japan this year," Cully said, "and I bought that solo record you put out."
"Ah," I answered, "it was you!"
He started laughing.
We started talking and hit it off right away. We exchanged phone numbers and he told me that now he had free time and that maybe sometime we could go out with the bikes.