The music that saved my life, part 2

Day 7: Alsea Falls loop, 64 miles

Dig into the archives, and you will find a post from the summer of 2011, all about Cloud Cult. An indy rock band, orchestral elements (violin, cello, french horn, xylophone…), epic lyrics, live art painted during the shows. The music and storytelling move me, into and through emotion and contemplation and soul.

The last time I saw Cloud Cult I was early in my separation, reeling from the gut-wrenching loss, and the music helped me grieve and rage and land, back on the ground. Tonight, I bring friends, who all have been part of my life in different ways. But I think they will connect with Cloud Cult, and that we will then connect more deeply.

To get ready for this experience, I take a little ride. Alsea Falls loop! I’d take the last two days off of cycling, exhausted from the Mom’s Weekend rush. As I set out I’m not sure I’ve got the strength for such a long ride. But as so many of my touring mornings, I tell myself, just start. Pedaling. Riding. Moving forward. The miles slip under me easily, gliding out Airport Road, then down Bellfountain.

I am stunned by the beautiful sky, field of red clover, Mary’s Peak standing sentinel over the valley. Turning at Alpine, I make my way up the Alpine Grade. Nearly 9% but mercifully over in 2 miles, then a rapid winding descent through forest to the falls. I take a rest break by the falls, so beautiful and peaceful. A tiny blue butterfly flutters and lands repeatedly on my hand, enough times I catch a close up picture! A few mighty old growth cedars remain amongst and otherwise second-growth forest.

On to Alsea, then back on Highway 34. Another long climb up the Mary’s Peak pass, a lower grade, but after 50 miles I am feeling fatigue and a bit cranky. Then the descent! I hit the curves at nearly 40 mph (crazy, I know, I know) and then down the winding highway, banking steeply into each bend. This road was made for me, the cyclist, pumping hard, faster through these curves than most cars will pass. Then the long straightaway to Philomath. I am blessed with a tailwind, and average 20+ mph all the way to Corvallis.

I arrive, winded, but strong. Amazed my legs feel … normal. No fatigue. After 64 miles? I am amazed. I haven’t ridden much the last few months. I am stronger than I thought. And my mind, my mood, my spirit, grounded, awake, anticipating the new adventures looming. Like the Cloud Cult show…

So the show was wonderful. Music, dancing, singing loudly, screaming, weeping. You know me. That’s what I do when I am in my element. That’s how I roll. And this time, even more beautiful is watching my friends connect, awkward at first for the new meetings, but then by the end of the night, Kirk jumps in my lap, Angelina tells me they are singing Mormon camp songs on the way home. Pete is sweet and so funny, and Kailyn giddy as she sees the inspiration of the music.

And me, I am in bliss. A bit sad at other friends who couldn’t make the show. Zach loved this band. And I am tired, so tired. Ready to sleep, and dream. Of blue skies and red clover, of flowing water and towering trees, of steep inclines and harrowing descents, of gentle breezes and banging rock music, of open hearts and tender embraces, of loss and life and love…

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