Quitter to Winner

Monday, August 30, 2010

INTERVIEW: Career Breakers Coastingnow.blogspot.com

CoastingNow is the career break journal for Alice Gray and Lyon Graulty. They're taking several months off between jobs to bike the West Coast and raise money for Posada Esperanza, an Austin-based shelter for immigrant women and their children. Here they talk about what prompted them to take a break on bikes.

What made you both decide to leave your jobs (and Western Mass) for a career break bike trip?

Alice: I'm originally from Austin, Texas. While I love Western Mass, I've always missed home and my family. Austin has changed so much since I left when I was 18. I want to be a part of the growing art, cycling, film and music scenes. As for the cycling trip, that was an idea that always lived in my mind, but one I never thought possible. When we decided a year ago to move, we racked our brains trying to think of a zany, fun way to spend our time between jobs, between apartments, between cities. I kept hearing about friends of friends who were going on insanely long cycling trips. The thought excited and inspired me. The West Coast is one of the more popular touring destinations for cyclists, and I've never been to California, so it just developed from there.

Lyon: I've lived in Western Massachusetts all my life and I've been in bands for nearly half of it. Over that time, I've been lucky enough to enjoy the support of a loving family and a great group of friends and musicians. I have been fairly successful as a part-time musician and have been employed as an audio editor at More Than Sound since early 2008. So why leave this steady job that allows me the freedom to pursue my musical career? I didn't want to become complacent and too comfortable in my life. This move is a challenge to myself to go somewhere different, make new connections and have new experiences. But this move is less about turning my back on my friends and family as it is about extending the network that they form. The bike tour is an extension of this desire for a challenging experience that will at times be uncomfortable, but will also offer exhilarating rewards.

How long have you been prepping for the trip?

Alice: We can trace the original spark for the idea back to a coffee shop in Burlington, Vermont where, on a cold January morning, we met a waiter who was about to quit his job and fly to Arizona with his bike. His plan was to ride all the way to Vancouver, which made my jaw drop. That night I created the blog, Coasting, and wrote my first entry, but didn't share it with anyone (except Lyon) for quite a while. Since then, we've been making small steps towards preparing for the cycling tour, and recording our progress on our blog.

Lyon: When we first got the idea, I was a bit hesitant because we are not expert cyclists by any means. I am a commuter biker that will occasionally go out for longer rides, so the cycle of six weeks of biking/camping/biking/camping/etc. seemed a bit daunting. It still seems a bit crazy, but we have been slowly getting prepared for it since the winter.

Tell us about the fund raising aspect of your trip. Do you have a monetary goal?

Alice: It seemed natural once we had decided to embark on our ridiculously long cycling trip, to pair our efforts up with a local organization. When I was in high school I volunteered at an Austin-based shelter for immigrant women and children called Posada Esperanza. I knew that any money we raised for them would go far. Lyon was familiar with the organization too since for the past couple of years we'd been donating a little money on each Mother's Day to Posada (and in exchange they send our mothers a card).

Lyon: We are hoping to raise a dollar for every mile we travel on our bikes. (It is about 1000 miles from Seattle to San Francisco.)

What are your plans after your trip?

Alice: Good question! Immediately after the trip we are driving to Louisiana for a music festival that some of Lyon's friends are playing in. Long-term, however, is a bit fuzzy. We'll stay with my family in Austin while we recover from the trip, and look for jobs and a place to live. I plan on using that limbo time to explore things I always think I don't have time for; learning how to sew, reading and writing more, finishing some film projects I started, learning how to play the accordion. And then there's salsa dancing! I love to salsa dance and I'll need to find the cool places to go for that in Austin.

Lyon: I am looking forward to being in Austin and enjoying the vibrant music scene. I am hoping to meet up with some good players and play as much as I can.

Alice and Lyon will periodically check in with Quitter to Winner while "on the road."

Visit http://coastingnow.blogspot.com/ to check in their Alice and Lyon on the road and to support their fundraiser.

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