BikeLife: End of an era for Eddie Barkla
If you’re at all involved in Bendigo’s road cycling community, chances are you’ll immediately recognise that as signature signoff phrase of Edward “Eddie” Barkla.
Eddie was a relative newcomer to cycling in 1995 when he set up the Bendigo Cycling Network Weekly Update e-newsletter and coined that phrase. He had recently purchased his first ever new bike at age 37 and been bitten by the cycling bug.
His intention was to help create a sense of community among cyclists in Bendigo and, he says, that community has grown beyond anything he originally imagined.
Cyclists from elsewhere often comment on the strength of Bendigo’s local cycling community. It’s people like Eddie who have bolstered this community over many years.
For a quarter of a century, Eddie has kept people informed, mentored newer cyclists, advocated tirelessly for road safety, and supported people through tough times – emotionally and even financially though his monthly gold coin collection.
Throughout the past 25 years, there have been few weeks in which a Bendigo Cycling Network Weekly Update has not flown into inboxes – up to one thousand of them.
In 2006, Helen Cronin worked with Eddie to establish and produce the weekly “Cycling with Eddie” column in partnership with the Bendigo Weekly. The column ran for six years and was the precursor to this Bike Life column.
With the publication this week of Edward’s final Bendigo Cycling Network Weekly Update, an era has ended. It coincides with Edward’s retirement from the electrical industry on Thursday, in which he’s been employed for 46 years since starting as a linesman at age 16.
Peter Kennedy, Editor of the Bendigo Advertiser and member of Bendigo’s road cycling community says: “Eddie Barkla is at the heart of cycling in the Bendigo community.
“Not as a racer or pro rider, but as the incredibly generous and caring person he has always been.
“He still manages to accumulate upwards of 20,000 kms on the bike each year in that quiet no-fuss way that he goes about much of his life.
“Eddie has woven his faith, his family and his passion for cycling and the cycling community together in a way that he should be incredibly proud of.”
Indeed, as his catch phrase suggests, Eddie’s faith has been central to his personal, professional and cycling journey. Ordained in the Anglican church as a minister in 2009 and a priest in 2011, he has always been very public – although never pushy – about his faith.
His retirement on 2 April is, he says, an amazing coincidence. “I put in the application last year – I didn’t even realise that the date was Good Friday,” he says.
While Edward might be retiring from employment with United Energy and from 25 years of the Bendigo Cycling Network Weekly Update, he’s not about to retire from his cycling ministry.
He’s still looking forward to seeing us on the road – God willing – at any time of day. We can still expect the statutory wave – which might now come any time or anywhere.
Paying tribute to Edward’s service to the cycling community, Peter Kennedy says: “I wish him and Maree, and their beautiful family every blessing for the years ahead, and thank him for all he has done for our community.”
I’m sure I can say on behalf of Bendigo’s cycling community: Edward, we salute you! Thank you, and our very best wishes for a rich and rewarding retirement.