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Thursday, August 30, 2007

A quick update...

We are in Tata, Hungary and we are hungary all the time because we keep saying 'hungary'! The food here, from what we have experienced, is amazing. I know, we're always talking about the food, but seriously, it's so good.

We still have a hard time ordering or buying regular water...usually we get mineral water which has bubbles and as you can imagine, the bubbles tend to become somewhat explosive in water bottles and plastic bladders after a few kms of bumpy travel. If you're not paying attention, the water sprays into your mouth from the pressure build-up, causing a few choking fits here and there.

In two days, we plan to cycle into Budapest, which we anticipate to be our halfway point - more champagne will be had! Incidentally, we are just over our 2ooo km mark.

Riding out of Vienna the other day, we initiated Cindy with an impromptu nudist colony! It didn't exactly 'warn' us about this. One minute we're riding (at 9am!) down a nice flat paved path along the Danou, the next, David's telling us his scrambled eggs were threatening to come up and Cindy was quite happily taking not-so-inconspicuous photos of really leathery, wrinkled flab. I mean, let's face it - it's not like the good-looking, FIRM people are in abundance at a nude beach...

Which brings me to my next subject - the Speedo. Europe is full of the teeniest swaths of fabric just barely covering the male genitalia. If you're really lucky, a male might opt completely out of the Swimming Speedo and just parade around the campsite in his tight, see-through whities, as we were excited to see a few weeks ago. As it happens, some hotel pools ONLY accept the Speedo, as we found in our Paris hotel...Walter was actually kicked out of the pool for wearing baggy shorts. He had to go downstairs to the sport store attached to the hotel and purchase a skimpy banana hammock before they would allow him back in...? We don't let him wear it anywhere else, even though he tries to ride in it every now and again.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Opera!

We had a great evening last night at the Vienna Opera! It was just long enough - 2 hours - and we even got free cds. We thought the balcony seats were great as we were up high and could lean on the velvet thing and throw things at people below!
The music was all Mozart and there were about 15 pieces. There was a male and a female who sang for some of the pieces, who, naturally, had amazing voices.
A friend of Walter's mom, Hilda, made a long four hour journey to come see us from the Saltzburg area. She treated us to a great Italian dinner before the opera and left early this morning to take the train back.
We were all happy we'd made the effort to go!

This afternoon, Cindy joined the COFE team and we are ready to get back on our bikes after 2 full days off!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 29, 1786km

Sometimes the trail gets pretty busy!

Hello from Vienna, Austria - home of the Opera!

As can happen when one is immersed in an environment for sometime, we are all becoming quite refined and cultured here in Europe. Nevermind that we sweat all day biking and the van smells like 'boy'; put us in the glitz and glam of the city and we clean up good and go get opera tickets. Yep, that's where we're headed tonight to see the Wiener Mozart Konzerte at the Vienna Opera House!

Before we go, we will brush up on our opera education by researching The Muppet Show, so we can mime the operatic-education and commentary of Statler and Waldorf, the two old balcony men - we don't want to appear uncouth! Stay tuned for how the night turns out - chances are one of us will pick an inopportune time to perform a bodily function...

It was David's birthday on the 23rd and we celebrated by proving our fitness levels. There was a castle. On a hill (see photos). And we had to get to it, but no one wanted to puss out and walk, so we biked it. 375 meters in 4km is steep (20% in places), by the way. David was first to the top, (we let him get ahead because it was his birthday).
It was rather impressive, actually - out of five of us, odds were on the cop, who does regular training, making it. Yet even the bike-virgin, the girl and, oh yeah, that guy with CF, made it up there. And Walter hardly even coughed - he mentioned people watching the documentary might look at him riding up well, the 20% incline bit he walked) with nary a cough and think, "Well, he doesn't have CF as bad as I do...". Walter's coughing is mostly done in the first 60 kilometers of the day, complete with the expulsion of bits of 'lung', coffee and other random bits of breakfast!

The top speed on the downhill award goes to Troy with 82km/hr, the others all topping the 60km/hr.

We will be in Vienna until Monday morning. Our rest-weekend was designed to meet up with our second support driver, Cindy, who will arrive on Sunday afternoon to help Troy with the driving. Cindy will be a great addition as we head into some more difficult countries where we don't know the languages. It's quite a job trying to navigate a vehicle into a new place every night, especially if you're used to driving on the left side of the road. Language barriers don't make it any easier when you're trying to find 5 people hotel rooms for a budget price. An extra co-pilot is always appreciated!

When we leave Austria on Monday, we should hit a country we hadn't expected and wasn't in the route details - Slovakia. Surprise!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Camping in Austria - by Walter

We crossed into Austria yesterday and this first Austrian night we are camping in a quaint little campsite close to the Danube in the industrial city of Linz. For the first time on this trip we have free wireless internet and this blog entry is coming right out of my tent where I am typing 1-handed whilst nebulising! Incidentally my health is A1-OK! Ready for another 80km today!

View Larger Map

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sharing Rooms with CF, by Walter

We are in this lovely Holiday Inn hotel in Passau, recuperating from our huge ride... Actually, it has been quite easy actually. The distances we planned are very do-able, the weather is fine, we are ahead of schedule, and all feeling good. I am supercharged on antibiotics and we maintain a 20+km/hr pace (although the bike computer indicates a fair bit less...).

Last night we purchased 24hrs on the internet for my laptop, so when everybody had a turn at doing what they wanted to do (after our extended carbo-loading buffet dinner) I finally got to the laptop (I am a night person), spoke to wife K. on Skype, put up the slideshow, checked email.... By the time I finished my nebulising (read; coughing) it was 1am. Heather had been trying to sleep since 930pm.... This morning she was appropriately grumpy, but she came good after breakfast!

Another note of interest; I keep on stuffing up orders. Yesterday trying to get coffee in a cafe en-route I explained what I wanted in so much detail (black coffee with a dash of milk instead of latte) that even David's espresso order got stuffed up. I have this affect when I try to explain things, much to David's annoyance since all his orders get stuffed up by me trying to order something off the menu. Although David sticks to the menu items he also does not always get what he wants. Champagne for instance. The first time we tried to order champagne to celebrate 1000 kms it never came. Turned out the lady of the restaurant had no cold champagne and wanted to cool it on ice for us for 3 hours (all we heard was Ja Ja, Champagne is cold, ja ja, and she would return to the kitchen not to come back). Even in the Holiday Inn David had no luck ordering, and by the time he got the waiter's attention the moment had passed (Heather had left the table, we were all cooked and done).

Genderized parking stalls and more!

Germany has it all: scary castles, leiderhosen sold off-the-rack and genderized parking stalls!

It's Day 24 and we are at 1452km - well, those that ride everyday, are. We are just about to leave Germany, land of fantastic food and service and y,s, it's true. I went to park the support vehicle yesterday and to my surprise, the Frauen name was written on the wall. Guess that'd be me.....

Germany has been great! Aside from finding we were again faced with most towns and stores being closed and/or deserted (and no-one accepting the COFE's American Express card) we had great service from day one in most restaurants, stores and hotels. One hotel that stood out from the rest was Gasthof Gigl, a super friendly, family-run guesthouse in Neustadt. They were happy to go to extra means necessary to bring David his iced coffee with a twist. Although they had never heard of Kahlua, (the poor souls!), they did come up with a fine tasting whiskey. Another hotel in Worth, brought their own box of muesli from their house for me at breakfast because I'd mentioned liking it - what a bunch of brats we are!

Today we are having a fine rest day in Passau, right on the Germany/Austria border, where the Inns and Donau rivers meet. We enjoyed a breakfast buffet at our hotel and were especially entertained by a woman who got her toast stuck in the toaster. A chef came along and stuck a fork right in there and then the lights went out. The chef appeared to be fine. Can you have delayed-electric shock? Maybe someone should check on her....

I had a nice reunion with an old friend I did some climbing with in Wyoming. Mark drove out to our campsite at around 9pm a few nights ago and I took the next day off to reminisce with him. It's always a joy to see old travelling friends.

Our filmmaker had a revelation the other day. As you may know, Lucas has been juggling learning to ride a bike again and film. His learning curve is on a steep incline and he is doing great. So great that while experiencing a sudden burst of energy at one point and busting out into a 29km/hr gait, he suddenly yelled, "Hang on, what's making me wet?", to which Dr. David replied, "That's sweat, mate."

When we aren't riding or razzing Lucas, we makes bets, uh...mostly on Lucas. The other evening after we'd finished a day of riding, Lucas, having been Troy's co-pilot all day, asked if he could take a bike and a map and go back to where we had lunch, about 20km away, to visit a castle he'd spotted. Nothing has given us any indication that he wouldn't be fully capable of this, but we quickly placed bets: Would he return before dark or after? Would he have the map or have lost it? Would he call for a pick-up, or get lost or have found the castle closed...? The little things you do to amuse yourselves on an extended trip make all the difference!
By the way, Lucas returned smiling, with the map and the bike and having seen the castle. Just slightly after dusk... :)

Photos of the first 1000 odd kilometers

Click on the photos to enlarge slide show.
Heather will write something tomorrow!

Message from our Sponsor

(Brent, Martin and Walter)


I just spent the nicest three days of vacation biking through the German countryside along the Danube with Niki (my seven-year old) and six interesting and fun people including our favorite wandering Dutch- Australian; Jonas Jacob Walter van Praag. As many of you know Walter has cystic fibrosis and should not be capable of biking any distance. Yet, he is biking from Paris to Istanbul to raise awareness and funding for cystic fibrosis and to create a documentary to encourage kids with CF to explore and enjoy the world. Walter's expedition is called "Coughing the Distance" and you can check out more details at:

I would consider it a personal favor if you would visit this website and make a donation to this fine group's efforts. They are going to end up helping 10,000's of CF kids improve their outlook on life.

Ten entertaining minutes on line and ten dollars in donations will go a long way to keep this expedition and documentary moving forward.

Many thanks to Walter, Martin (last seen in 1984 on the Trans- Siberian railroad), Troy (mechanic extraordinaire from Tasmania), David (when your boat is foundering in 20 foot seas this is the man to call), Heather (opps! dropped your rope at 22,000 feet on Everest? Heather can help), and Lucas (future famous filmmaker and all around nice guy)

Brent Reynolds

(Niki going hell for leather!)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Life's Little Luxuries

Another Wally entry: The rains have stopped, and we set up tents for our rest day. I discovered that my sleeping bag was still drenched from sweat (?) from the last bad night I had when it rained (and I had to go out and pee about 4 times). Sponsor Brent showed without camping gear, so I spend the following two nights in a hotel with him and non Niki.

There was some concern that we are 'blowing away' donors money on luxuries, and that some people may expect us to camp and rough it whenever possible. However, this is not the case. I love camping like the best of them, love the fresh air to begin with! But when your health is not 100%, and I am on antibiotic pills and inhalation at the moment, you cannot risk anything to do with your health. Even though I now feel really good I still sweat badly at night, waking up reasonably wet (switch position on the moist sheets and turn the hotel doona over - they have no sheets here!). I still cough a little blood with my morning and night cough sessions (not much though), and so I need to stay in a hotel.

We tried a youth hostel the other day, but they have daytime curfews and still cost about the same as a modest 2 star hotel (about 25 Euro p.p.). The hotels cost on average, here in Germany, 25-35 Euro per person including breakfast). We are all mostly wanting to be self funded, but I want to use the COFE funds to help people stay in the hotels as well. We like to stay together!

Staying in hotels also means no camp cooking, meaning we buy food out at night. Most simple restaurants charge about 10 Euro per head for a simple meal. It adds up for our team staying in hotels. We assume that after we leave the more civilized part of Europe and ride into the more unknown it will get cheaper and we will have to camp out I am sure.

So while we can we should be using the B&Bs and good meals, built up our reserves and stay healthy!! Even Katherine atr home has cleared some more funds for us to make sure we can pay for a bed!

And on another note, we want to have a documentary that shows how CF can be managed on the road, not how you can really get sick with CF by living on the edge!

Cycling is going really well!! We are enjoying Brent and Niki's company, but in a few days they will be gone again, and Martin will leave us at about the same time. It might get lonely with just the five of us!

Not so frugally yours,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 18
Rest day in Donauworth

Not much happening here today except eat, sleep and laundry! We have a campsite with a lake for swimming, which none of us have ventured into yet, but we have a new-comer with a 7 year old who might.

Brent, our Mad Bomber sponsor, joined us late last night after a harrowing trip in from Paris. What should have taken 3-4 hours took 11 after his rental car broke down. His son, Nicky, won’t soon forget this adventure with Dad!

We’re not sure exactly how it’s going to work having a young one along with us, but we’ll soon find out! Brent and Nicky are with us for about 4 days.

We had a long, but easy day of riding yesterday of over 100km. The riding was flat and not one of our more scenic routes, (farmer’s fields freshly manured up for planting), but nice, nonetheless, to follow what seems to be a normality in Germany – exceptional bike paths along the Danube River.

These mostly paved paths lead to over-confidence and we are trying to impress eachother with what sort of activities we can do while riding. David can take off his shirt, more difficult than you’d think as he first has to remove his man-purse that straps over his shoulder-blades, and then he must secure the shirt – all while riding no-hands.

I can eat a schnitzel sandwich, but it was already prepared, so I lost points. However, I can also get my MP3 player going.

Lucas can film while on the move – sort of. A few days ago, while trying to film a high speed downhill, he met with some unfortunately placed gravel and subsequently filmed his incredible wipe-out. He showed us the clip later, but said he wasn’t turning on the sound as he may have screamed like a girl when he went down….

Monday, August 13, 2007

a milestone!

Day 15
Ulm, Germany

I was all excited to have a photo for you all of us toatsing our first 1000km milestone with champagne, but after ordering it again and again from the nice old spanish-german lady that runs our hotel and the restaurant underneath, we gave up. David kept asking and she kept nodding and smiling, but we never got it.

Anyway, who needs champagne to celebrate! We are a quarter of the way! It´s going so fast :(

We ended up doing two days in one today, as we were done our first 40km before noon, so we kept on to Ulm, a giant city. As is always the case in cities, it was hard to find living arrangements for the night. We have ended up in a very nice hotel in the downtown center right across from the highest church tower in the world - at this point, the scaffolding mounted to the side of the church to repair its weary siding is what seems to capture our interest the most. It is quite amazing to see this and the tower itself is gorgeous.

The rain has been following us for days on end, however, today we did have the whole afternoon in the hot sun again after the low-laying fog that accompanied us for most of the a.m. burned off.´s pouring now.

We are eating insane amounts of really great food and the only one who feels moderatly guilty about the quantities is Troy. As the support driver, he doesn´t get much exercise, but has decided to start pulling the van to even things up a bit.

The guys also drink an impressive amount of beer and most of our late afternoons involve lumbering from one outdoor patio to the next to taste all the possibilities. I, of course, RARELY partake in such tomfoolery - oops, gotta go, my beer has arrived...

Until next time :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

We forget the name of the town, but...

Day 14
?, Germany

We had a gorgeous ride today! Sadly, Walter and I are barely awake here at the internet cafe and neither of us remembers the name of the town we are staying in. Sigmaringen is where we are going our internet, which is the city 8km from our hostel.
Nor did I remember to bring my USB port to transfer some photos for you all....sorry about that, but hopefully we'll get some to you soon.

The last 4 or 5 days, it has been raining and we are consistently wet, but it doesn't seem to be too cold, so we aren't too badly off. Well, I guess we should be honest - Walter is feeling it. He had little energy today and feels like his lungs are having hard time keeping up. Our chilly, wet night spent in a crapy, overpriced campground last night didn't help liven our moods much.

Tonight we have splurged on beds in a gausthaus, sort of like a bed & breakfast, which are popping up everywhere, now that we are on a very popular bike route following the Danou River.

This has been the most scenic part yet! Giant old castle-like mansions perched on cliff tops; beautiful green pastures with sheep; fingers of rock pushing up through green farmers fields....the going was fairly flat today, as we are usually blessed with whilst riding along river valleys. But not the last two days - oh no! Extreme uphill, anyone? Day 12 was the longest stretch (20 plus km) of straight uphill as we left the low-lands of Switzerland and headed into Germany. That day was hard and mostly in the rain. We are toughening up at times, but then it all seems to go to hell and we whine and whimper and complain. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that we have been having a great time, are seeing lots of beautiful scenery and smiling faces.

I will try to send photos for this BLOG ASAP.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

20 facesof Australian Cycling

The Australian Cycling Magazine (Australian Cyclist) on the news stands now has featured Walter as one of the 20 faces of Australian cycling.

Introducing 20 of Australian Cyclist's most interesting, inspiring, and intriguing cyclists, 2007

The article is not yet avalible on line but it wil be eventually! Those of you from overseas will not reccognize the names on the list but the Australians certainly will. The list even includes members of the federal government, Tony Abbott federal minister for Health and Aging.

My husband continues to impress, inspire and enlighten and I love him for all his effort...and I miss him too!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

France is closed, is Switzerland open?

Say it, don't spray it

Walter's feeling rather fit these days....

Day 11

Rest day in St.Louis, France/Switzerland

Today we have the luxury of doing nothing, however, we are managing to keep quite busy, what with eating, laundry, eating, emailing, eating, you can imagine, life's tough.

We arrived here in Basel, Switzerland, which is somehow St.Loius, France, depending on what side on the line you're standing on 2 km up the road from our hotel. We only had to ride 37km yesterday and arrived in the city around noon with lots of time on our hands.

The ride yesterday was an easy 37 km of relatively easy up and down. We went through about 6 towns in about a 15 km distance - seems everyone likes to be an individual municipality. Some of the names of the towns have more syllables in them than the town has inhabitants. Sometimes I feel like Walter must - trying to pronounce some of the names of these places is like clearing phlegm from your throat; you can practically see the wet SPLAT at the end of the word.

Yesterday evening, we were to meet my cousin, Alison, now living in Nschnekinbergschnoff-nikopff or somewhere (sorry, can't quite grab the concept of Swiss pronunciation yet), in downtown Basel around 7pm. She found us having our 17th drink of the evening in the 14th bar after about 6 hours spent roaming around the city. It appears that France is closed for the summer and to venture over into Switzerland proved less irritating - everything was open and there were actually people around!

One thing that's quite annoying here in Europe is smokers. Everywhere. You are hard-pressed to find a non-smoking establishment. We spent a few hours in a Turkish internet Cafe two days ago and sadly saw it's effects on Walter. He was coughing much more and even noticed some blood. Nothing a little rest day hasn't seemed to fix.

The other night in the campground, we had a visit from a nice English family who wandered over to offer us a donation. The man himself suffered from Asthma and was quite interested in our ride. These are always appreciated gestures and we thank everyone donating on-line as well!

Coughing Blood

Coughing blood is something that does not sound nice, but really it is to be expected with all the coughing I do. Normally I do not cough up blood, but when I hit polluted areas, like 2 hours in a smokey internet cafe, and then riding into the European Chemical Castle of Europe; Basel, Switzerland. So I got David a little worried. It does look worrying.

Anyway, it is a rest day today, we are just lounging in an old fashioned looking dining room of a Hotel de l'Europe in St Louis, bordering the swiss part of Basel. Basel is right on the French border, and the french side, StLouis is cheaper and less 'city'. I did some extra nebulisations with hypotonic saline and ventolin, and I am back to normal status quo. Did the laundry in a laundramat as well today, a huge load for three. The cottons we had took forever to dry. Getting coins was next to impossible as everything appears to be shut and the laundramat is unattended. But this chore is done! Met a lovely IT lady there with a broken wrist who entertained me as I waited. The french people really are very friendly.

Tonight we will wonder into Basel for a cheese fondue! Although we are staying in France, this is our last night in Switzerland! Confused? Don't worry, we are too. Too add to the complication, Switzerland is not part of the European Union and we need Swiss Francs there! This was Walter reporting from the dining room and it is over to Heather in the studio again.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dutch article in Elsevier!

For those who can read Dutch!

We are having a rest day in Basel! It gave me an opportunity to try and contact British Airways again. They are impossible to reach. I blasted off an angry email to them saying we will take legal action when we come home. We are now dealing with cheap gear issues (such as broken tent pole etc) and we are close to purchasing another navigator and portable hard drive to replace the lost equipment. I am particularly annoyed at having lost the 9 Lions Club flags we had for exchange with Lions Clubs along the way. It would be a great excuse to call them and receive the extra publicity.

In Basel we did find the guide books we had and replaced them again, so at least we wont be led up the wrong mountain path! Basel appeared to be open for business (France seemed to be on hoilidays during July/August with streets deserted and shops shut).

And here is the Dutch article!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Cycling and CF

Here is a quick word from Walter: I started the ride on oral antibiotics, started ten days before the flight to Europe and continued till a day or two into the ride (a good two weeks+). I then changed to nebulised antibiotics for a while. Now I am just on the usual vitamins, glucosamine/chondroiton, Pulmozyne, decongestants etc. Doing a fair bit of coughing on all hills and the first 1-2 hours of each day.

One of our daily battles is keeping medicine chilled. We use hotel fridges, campsite fridges, refreeze our ice-blocks... And we have a small car fridge for pulmozyne and antibiotics.

Something above my left knee started hurting lots after a few days of hard riding, which made my leg very stiff. Now I am taking some aspirin in the mornings, and it is slowly going away. I am the slowest rider on the trip, but that was to be expected! Also, app art from David, I am the only one riding every day!

Tomorrow we leave France and enter Switzerland. We will have an unscheduled rest day there, but will catch up to our schedule shortly thereafter.

We miss our good gear from our lost luggage very much. My GPS navigator PDA is a painful loss, we might have to replace it soon before we leave civilisation. David's Garmin GPS is doing well, but the support car has nothing to locate us with.

The great Patagonia outdoor gear that was in our luggage would have made life much better too, we miss that lots. David got his luggage, so he has his! The clothing I bought in a hurry is mostly misfitting and uncomfortable, especially the sleeping bags. But once you are riding and on the bike everything is perfect, ills or no hills, tail or head wind no matter!

That's enough from me, back to Heather!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

French Hospitality Splendour

Day 8
635-ish KM
Altkirch, France

Day 7, I think
km 577, I think


We are getting closer to the Germany border and are starting to notice differences in houses and faces. Today was a nice short day, only about 45 km and we've finished early enough to finally be able to catch up on the BLOG.

We are absolutely bushed, tired, trashed, bleeding from our ears: but after finally getting ahold of Internet in our once a week hotel extravagance, we had a chance to read some of your comments and we felt like we should at least make an effort to say something before succumbing to sleep.

We are having a great trip so far! The Rotary Club came through for us again in Dole, France. We were split up into two different houses: Walter, Troy, Lucas and Heather stayed in the old, castle-like home of Andre and Annie - built and still maintained as a home from 1774!!

It was across the canal from Louis Pasteur's house, which we visited the next day (Louis invented pasteurisation!). Our hosts were very entertaining. Andre invented the first PVC Gnome and the first non-exploding gas tank (tres impressive), now used in all cars!

We were taken to the home hosting the rest of us for a large dinner at the home of Annie Number 2 and her husband, Etienne. We proceeded to have one of the longest, most elaborate meals I personally have ever had: we started with liver pate, then ham and pea rolls, wine from Andre's brother's estate and, of course, bread. Then the BBQ'd sausages were brought in, and more peas and ham, more wine, more bread. I was absolutely stuffed by this point, but no! Now comes the main course - BBQ'd pork and shredded carrots, more wine, more bread, then MORE freaking pork!

THEN? the cheese platter, BEFORE dessert, which was fruit flan and peaches and more wine.

While Walter wavered in his seat, trying to focus on anything besides his wine glass, the rest of us tried to fit more food in already packed stomachs.

The next morning after again stuffing ourselves with croissants and homemade plum jam and after visiting Louis' house, we went back to the house where the press met us for pictures and a brief interview.

That afternoon after barely a few kms of riding, we stopped for lunch at the house of a friend of Andre and Annie's, where we were treated to a giant lunch, with more wine, more bread and surprise gifts from Annie Number 2 - t-shirts, jumpers (sweaters for us Canadians) and a special box of french perfume for me. I always thought I was the best smelling of us all, but maybe the boys dropped a hint?

These host stays are incredible - we are really treated like kings (and one queen)!

Yesterday was a fantastic day of 90km of flat-ish biking along the canal. We had a lane mostly the whole way along the river and are sunburned and exhausted. For dinner, we ate frogs legs and escargots in a fancy restaurant that we even showered for.

Please keep your comments coming :) Our regrets are that we cannot get to internet as easily as we thought and are a little curious as to how that might affect our communication in some of the Eastern countries. Anyway, know that we are very happy with our progress and are happy with each other's company (so far!) and are thinking of you all :)

Bye for now...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Day 5 – Beaune, France

Montbard, France – bike odometer reads 394km

Here's a rather long update as we've been out of contact lately! Either much too knackered, or no luck with finding open internet cafes...

We are averaging close to 100 km per day (yesterday was a rest day) and everyone seems to be doing remarkably well, if you don't count the fact that Troy needs hip-replacement surgery and I'm starting to wonder why the hell I trashed my knees so much skiing all those years.

Then there's the absolute side-splittingly funny times when Walter, David and Troy fall off their bikes because they've chosen clipless pedals, which means you are at the mercy of your motor-skills which have to coincide with getting your toes unclipped from their 'locked-in' position on the pedals before falling-momentum takes over . Why do this, you might ask...well, supposedly it gets you up the hills easier as you can pull up as well as push down, but if you've had a few too many beers, or eaten too much cheese, you simply look like an awkward turtle thrashing around on the pavement trying to kick a bike off your heels and swearing violently - shit, I'm laughing just thinking about it.....

We have been spending some time in hotels, but some of us poorer folks try to convince the more affluent of our group to suck it up and sleep in campgrounds - that's why god gave us tents! We have succeeded the last 3 nights and have been enjoying our stir-frys and pasta dinners while trying to blame farting noises on someone else.

We spend about 100 Euros/day on food! That's almost $200....

We are starting to notice some of us feeling the pain. I've wondered at times if Walter even has CF at all, the way he’s been carrying on with hardly a cough or two during the ride! Only on the really steep bits can you tell.

We all have our jobs on this trip: David is navigator/medic and injury fixer (though in true-life, he plays a policeman, which becomes apparent when a person might, for example, drive down a bicycle path to get to Macdonalds quicker).

The support vehicle was donated by Martin, who is joining us for two weeks and helps trade-off being the driver with Troy, who’s job it is to fix anything mechanical or otherwise that is broken. Troy also has the important job as support vehicle driver. After stopping whenever Lucas, our film-maker extraordinare, sees a good shot several times a day, the support vehicle driver must also prepare lunch stops and arrange sleeping spots for that evening – not easy when you don’t speak the language.

Lucas is still getting used to the bike, but is doing great. It isn't easy filming and biking at the same time - I tried it and ran into cows. Lucas is definetly more elegant at it.

My job is to sit around and demand people do things for me, like rub my feet, but this doesn’t seem to work. At all. Lest someone start inquiring, ‘why is Heather even here at all?’, I think the least I can do is keep you all updated on the tom-foolery that is COFE.

Least, but not last - even when there IS a hill - we have the star of our program – Valta.
Walter’s job is to finish in Istanbul. Of course, he has already done most of the work to plan this whole thing, so now it’s just a matter of ticking off those kilometers!

Thanks for reading about our progress and send us comments – we love getting news from back home! (go to "COMMENTS" …).

Comments and MaleHealth

Dear people,

Thank you for your fun and kind comments! We are flat out cycling and surviving right now and are unable to diligantly reply to you all. But we love the feedback!

Also, we are about to appear on the UK Male Health website: <click here>.

Back to Heather now!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Contact has been made

Just wanted to let everyone know that the team is doing great, I just spoke to them on the phone as they stopped for lunch. They have not been able to access the Internet and post updates on the blog and are very sorry about that. I complained strongly about the lack of up dates, comparing it to having my favorite soap opera pulled from daily TV line up!

The team has been doing big days and have also had a rest day. They do have some sore bits but that is to be expected.

They all seem to be getting along but it is still early days. I did hear profanities in the back round while speaking to Heather H.H. I am not sure who they were directed at.

I will keep this short, I am just the ring in. We all look forward to more from the team.

Thanks for the support... Katherine (Walts wife still in Tasmania).