The message has been sent from Key West to the northern slope of Alaska, and at all the gas stations and coffee shops and community events in between.
Six months, everybody.
A lifetime can be experienced. Tell them all about it, J.W. Frye. They heard the 28-year-old Sarasota resident in 18 states, two provinces and two territories – hospice is a journey all its own.
How much life can someone live in six months?
At a hospice, a typical stay is six months. Patients spend their final moments in freedom, sometimes surrounded by family, a therapeutic experience. Frye saw it when his parents died of cancer. The spark hit the kindling and two years ago Frye began planning a grueling bicycle ride to let the world know about the benevolence of hospice.
Like a six-month hospice stay, Frye, from Feb. 23 to Aug. 23, showed just how many people can be effected, and how deep a life experience can be in such a short span.
Here’s a sliver of what Frye did:
- Received a random, from a stranger in Gainesville that loosened his hamstring and somehow dissolved pain in an ACL. More than 7,500 miles of highway riding later, the knee did not flare up once.
- On numerous occasions, he went from sleeping in freezing temperatures in a tent one night to luxurious units or hotels or a the next. Frye usually didn’t know if his next meal would be an energy bar or double cheeseburger with the works. The next town could be friendly; it could be teeming with shady characters. He got by on random text messages that pointed him to someone who at least was known by somebody, but, he usually listened to those nagging instincts his heart and gut.
- Found himself at a zumba class in Bethlehem, Pa. to help raise more money for hospice. Enough said.
- Dodged numerous tornadoes in the Midwest during a long period of unstable weather.
- Hitched a ride from to the nearest Walmart in Nebraska for a new bicycle chain.
- On numerous occasions, rode 100 miles without a night’s rest.
- Peddling on isolated highways, unsure what shelter, if any, lied ahead. Once, he rode 100 miles to Colorado with these sketchy directions: “Peddle to tiny Lindon, Colo., turn left at the only post office in town, head down some dirt road for a mile and go to the house across from the church.” Frye, of course, found the man’s house. But he was not allowed to sleep there – .
- Wrangled cattle at the in Colorado.
- Slept a night in a Cabin in Utah. The bobcat on the ceiling might always snarl.
- Had plenty of road-side and other wildlife. Once, in British Columbia, Frye said a bear came too close and he “had to get up on the bike and shake pots and pans to back him down.”
The stories are numerous, and, Frye, a playwright, plans on writing a book about his journey. For more details, or to donate to hospice, visit Frye's Let Me Go, One Bike, One Cause, 7,500 Miles.
Frye said he wants to hold an event in Sarasota the final week of Sept. or the first week of Oct. to thank those in his adopted hometown for their support. “I feel like this experience is a collection of all the people who have helped me along the way – it’s really their victory,” Frye said.
Until the homecoming event, Frye is simply trying to place this epic journey in perspective.
By the way – he said he’s not even sore.
“At this point, I’m still too close to it all to have any perspective on the trip,” Frye said. “As a whole, there’s a sense of loss, but there’s also a sense of gain being thrust into this next journey.”
This continent hardly has room.