The Great COFE diary begins!

It is a long time to go yet, but this will be the spot where you can follow the online progress of the ride.

The ride is 4000kms long, from Paris to Istanbul (see That means that during August and September next year I will cycle 50-100kms per day for 70 days. Looking forward to it!

Today I filled in the paper work to register myself as a non-profit body in Tasmania, with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading. It requires a police record! So that was applied for at the same time.

I don’t expect too many entries on this blog till closer to July 2007! So keep your eye on and perhaps consider signing up for the newsletter which will outline progress once a month or so…

Come Canondale, sponsor me!

But don’t expect me to repeat any of this! I made it to 41 with only one broken collar, a few minor breaks in toes and hands, and a few cuts and bruises… and that is enough thank you! Posted by Picasa

The current bikes

Here are my two bikes. The old Canondale I bought when I worked in the USA, and the good ole Trek. The Trek I call the Trektor as it is heavy and solid, I usually take it on social rides in the country, and also did all my bike touring with it (like the Tasmania Trail). The Canondale is a fancy, lighter bike. It is ideal for racing in and out of town and is a lot lighter to carry up the single trail steep slippery bits I go up on to get back home. Of course I also use the Canondale for event rides like the Tullah Challenge. Posted by Picasa

For the Great COFE for CF I hope to get a bike manufacturer to sponsor me and get a bike that will give me no trouble for the first 4000kms! Chances are I will carry gear with me, kind of depends on whether we really get enough funds for a support vehicle! We have a driver thanks to Tiina’s pledge!

The first press interview!

You may not understand the interview, it was done in dutch for the dutch SBS radio program!
May there be many more to come!

To actually listen to it <click here> !

A huge thank you!

Wow, how cool, all the way from San Francisco in the USA I received an anonymous well wish and a Smile card from . What a great wish! And with it was a contribution of US$10 to help me along the way! Whoever you are, it was a wonderful letter to get in my mailbox in Tasmania! Thank you kindly! Posted by Picasa

Gift from Kenya

I received a beautiful necklace in the mail this week! It came from Joyce from Kenya! It was made by “ill women trying to make a living for their families”. They are looking for a way to sell these items to generate money for these women. If anyone can help email me!

What Joyce suggested I do is auction it off to help with the funding I need. I think that eBay would be good as it would also link to The Great COFE website and could be good for promotion as well! Will give this a go soon! Sounds like a great plan to us. Posted by Picasa

Necklace from Kenya on eBay Auction

The eBay Charity Auction is on! Do you think people would bid on it for The Great COFE for CF? Here is the necklace modeled by Amanda and Georgia. Surely it will do well, such lovely models and such worthy cause, and the necklace is made by the most wonderful people – read blog entry below!

eBay Auction here:;amp;ver=LCA080805&item=110052540015&lk=URL

Tullah Challenge

In preparation for the Great COFE for CF I entered the Tullah Challenge this weekend! Was loads of fun, but hard work. Needless to say I coughed the whole way!

More photos here:

No, I was not first, I was close to last in most events: Kayaking (5km), Riding (30km) and running (7.5km). Posted by Picasa

New Logo!

Cath Levett designed the Great COFE for CF a logo!
It has the Rose for CF (Cystic Fibrosis sometimes called Sixtyfive Roses) and my bicycle wheel! How did Cath know that is what it looked like? She is in London, I am in Tasmania!
Special thanks also goes to Kathryn Whitfield for making it happen!

Onya Cath!

Press Release!

Yes, we have a celebrity shot of me! Specially prepared for the shiny new press release from Heather (see below) we have this Colgated and Airbrushed picture of me.

The Great COFE

For Immediate Release
Contact Heather Lea

It Isn’t Everyone Who Can Bike 4000km With A Debilitating Disease

Tasmania, Australia, December 10, 2006

When Walter Van Praag was diagnosed at the age of ten with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a hereditary disease that progressively disables the whole body causing early death, advice from medical professionals were of little interest to him.

With curious spirit and a taste for the extraordinary, Walter began a life devoid of self-pity and flourishing with adventurous pursuits.

Somewhere between camping in Sinai war-zones, traveling with a fake blind-guide dog named Shady, living one month in a cave on the island of Crete and accidentally scaling a jail wall in Northern Greece, Walter schemed his next, more legal adventure, the Great Cystic Orient Fibrosis Express, or COFE.

The Great COFE is a long distance bike ride set to start on July 28 th, 2007 at the base of the Eiffel Tower and ending some 3935 kms (2445 miles) later in Istanbul at the Pera Palas Hotel. The ride itself will take approximately 70 days, with a daily riding average of 63km (39miles). Stops along the way will include Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade.

“Be cause I think I can cough 4000 kilometers on my bicycle,“ states Walter, “I want to encourage other people with CF to get out and cough, too!”

The average survival rate for a person with CF is 36.8 years. Walter, at 41 years of age, is already an anomaly and no doubt, an inspiration to other CF sufferers.

“OK, so I cough a lot and take a bunch of pills, but no migraines, no fits, no dementia…”

With Walter’s lung capacity at less than 40% it is like breathing through a straw, or taking just half a breath at a time. Imagine yourself cycling just 4 kilometers like that.

Walter hopes that with a little luck, the Great COFE will help spread the news that living with CF doesn’t mean an incapacitated life and can even have some good points. “For instance,” he says, “I can eat MacDonald’s in between meals, order deep fried food and add extra salt on doctors orders. Cholesterol is rarely detectable with CF.”

Although the disease keeps him from working full time, Walter is highly encouraged by his doctors to participate in the activities he loves, like sea kayaking, walking in the bush, backpacking, and taking photos.

Walter hopes for 50% or more of all monetary donations to go to CF Research Funds nominated by the major sponsor of each country.
For more information on the Great COFE and how you can help, visit Posted by Picasa

Making the first COFE T-shirts

We got a press conference for the Tasmanian Press coming up on Friday at noon! Very exciting! Decided to quickly whip together a T-shirt! Here we are ironing the T-shirt transfers.

Afullah trying her darnest to influence the position of the art-work.

Posted by Picasa

Newspaper Article

(click image for larger, almost readable, version)

Also got TV news coverage, only 15 seconds or so, on both Southern Cross and WIN!

And even more exciting news, I got the offer of a support vehicle! Still need to find a support driver!

Infocus Newsletter of the Royal Hobart Hospital

The Newsletter of the Royal Hobart Hospital published a lovely story on the great COFE! Nice to see the great coverage I am receiving and the support I get from the hospital! Don’t forget they were the ones who also organised my first media event on Mount Nelson!

Double click the images for an almost readable size!

CF Worlwide Newsletter

Dace Shugg has helped me tremendously over the past few months. Full of energy, great suggestions and wonderful contacts. For those of you in the know, Dace is a volunteer assistant editor of the Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide newsletter. The following appeared in their 9th edition newsletter:

Click the image for an almost readable version:

Scary Stuff

A male bicycle rider had a head-on collision with a vehicle in my area. He died shortly after the accident. This is scary for me as I do some road training in this approximate area occasionally. It serves as a reminder to be respectful of all traffic and be highly visible and avoid any high traffic areas. How this poor soul managed to get collected by a car heading in the opposite direction I do not know.

Road Training

Went for another excellent ride today with Hans my “coach”. Took the camera along for a photo so we can all see I am getting fitter and fitter! On antibiotics for a bit to get rid of an extra productive cough that I seem to have developed, but nothing to worry about.
Also got in touch with Roche regarding possible sponsorship! Even if we do not get sponsorship I have scouts honour on David (medic) and Heather (writer) riding with me all the way, and two possible others who are interested in coming along as Mechanic/Driver. If we get no driver we may just do it without support vehicle. See if we care! All systems are go!
But if you know of someone who can lend us two camcorders to take do let me know!

Training in Action

Things are moving along. Getting fitter and fitter. Doctor wasn’t too happy about my lungs and has put me on different drugs. I do feel a million dollars these days.

Here we are out on Kelsey Tier, behind our house, on a nice walk up the hill. Katherine is not afraid to get dirty on our training walks either:

In the meantime we are arranging door prizes for the fundraising movie nights that have been arranged.

The Hobart Poster went out and up on noticeboards everywhere, and then the cinema in Hobart decided they had to change the date and price!!! Could you believe it? Contracts signed and sealed and then they change it on you? Rowan in Hobart is arranging it all for me, and he is sorting it out. I hope we can keep the advertised date! Considering you need to pay for each seat in the cinema I’d hate to run at a loss thanks to the cinema’s mistake! Thanks Eastlands Village Cinema (THEY BLAME THE MOVIE PRODUCTION HOUSE!).

CMax Devonport is still all go for the advertised time!


Went to AGFEST in Carrick on Friday, the Agricultural Show. Was fun!
Saw these great KMX trikes. Imagine us riding them from Paris to Istanbul. We’d do it! For sure!Maybe they should lend us four of these! Imagine the publicity they’d get! I want one of these trikes!

Mothers day Radio Interview!

Listen to me on Australia All Over! Mothers’ Day, this Sunday around 9am! This was arranged by Judy Tierney. Judy also kindly managed to get me on Tim Cox’s Statewide Morning show last month!

In the mean time I keep on training! Today I rode my bike up and down many local hills and found this curious paddock covered in spiderwebs! The fences were also full of them and the road, adjoining the fences, was streaming with them! I gave a few spiders and lots of spiderwebs a ride of their life! Somebody told me that the roads in Tasmanaia are obviously not well used with all those cobwebs!

After one puncture (not spider related) I got home safe!

Pre-sales for documentary needed

OK, Here is the run-down.

I need to finalise a director for the documentary we are making. The
director needs to help us with the ‘treatment’, and help us pre-sell the
documentary to a TV network. This will give the network national rights to
say 3 broadcasts over a five year period.

The pre-sell fee will help us fund the high quality camera equipment (complete with helmet-cam and bike tripod) which we need to purchase soon!!

Once we return and the director puts the documentary together we can then get a distributor to market the documentary to international networks. The money we will receive from this will first of all refund the airfares for the voluntary crew (least I can do for their professional services!) and the rest we could delegate to CF research!

We still have a large space on our sexy VW Caddy support vehicle! Where are all the major sponsors? Who needs international press? The pharmaceutical companies do not need it, they have not come to the party. So we need corporate sponsors of any kind!

Please apply within! <click>