Eddie heads to new horizons

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 25-May-2012


After six years of providing the readers of the Bendigo Weekly with a cycling column, Eddie Barkla has decided to call it a day. He has managed to combine his love of cycling, and all those involved, with a love for spreading the word of God. Here, Eddie reflects and what has made his column such a success story.


The Sabbath Year – Leviticus 25:1-4 CEV – When Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord told him to say to the community of Israel: After you enter the land that I am giving you, it must be allowed to rest one year out of every seven. You may raise grain and grapes for six years, but the seventh year you must let your fields and vineyards rest in honour of me, your Lord.

On May 26, 2006 Helen Cronin introduced the Bendigo Weekly reading public to Eddie Barkla and the sign-off phrase “Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing”.
For the past six years there has not been a week where the paper has not had a “Cycling with Eddie” article on the many and varied aspects of cycling and cyclists.
It has been a privilege to be given the opportunity to meet such a broad cross section of the cycling community and share their stories of courage and perseverance.
Like all stories there is often more than meets the eye and often there is a greater depth than can be published – some humorous, some inspiring and some that pull the most hardened heart strings.
I recently met at the Madison with a well known long-term sports writer, who was amazed when I revealed that I don’t read any newspapers.
Their comment was that newspapers are there to influence your thinking, so what influences yours?
Every cyclist I meet on the road and every shared road user influences my thinking about what is to be shared each week.  
I am truly grateful for the many Weekly readers who have made a passing comment that has turned into an article.
If my articles have had an influence, I would hope it would be three -fold.
One would be that we all share the same space on the road and need to respect that in the manner of how we see each other motorists and cyclist alike. A coined phrase in the first article “as cyclists we need to think as motorists, and motorists need to think like cyclists.”
Another being relationships in families and community, increased health and well being.
The other being the sign-off phrase, which is very much part of faith in my Lord. Every article written has been based on prayers of faith, hope and trust in my Lord, in His amazing grace and salvation.
The real supporters of the cycling column have been my wife, Maree, and family, who have allowed me to hide at the computer for hours to produce what you read each week – they have made the real sacrifices to allow the labour of love.
Thankyou to the people who have freely given their time in telling their story for us to enjoy and learn from.
As the opening scripture has made reference, it seems it is an appropriate time to have a Sabbath rest. There are many stories yet to be told and many more people to be influenced either way, this is not the end, just waiting for a new beginning.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.


The cycling chaplain moves on to a new ministry 

“He is a familiar sight in Bendigo. Any weekday morning you’ll see Eddie Barkla on his way to work with two bulging panniers strapped to his bike.”
Six years ago, that was Eddie’s introduction when his first column was published.
Since then he has introduced us to the champions of cycling in Bendigo: the athletes with medals in their trophy cabinet, the hard workers with dreams of medals, and the everyday heroes and heroines who quietly go about life on their bikes.
His column has also been a platform for his message of safety and sharing the road with respect.
Look after yourself and your bike, be seen, be predictable.
Respect other road users just as you want them to respect you.
He still pedals to work and back every day with bulging panniers, often sitting on the back of a bunch out
training just as he has done for years.
These days he carries a passenger on his handlebars.
The small Cat in the Hat doll lay on the road for days before he stopped to give him a lift.
Now, like a truck mascot, the Cat watches the road ahead for him.
Eddie might have wished for someone to watch the road ahead for him when he suffered a nasty crash and a bad collar bone break on a morning training ride.
It was actually the morning of his mother’s funeral and since then he has also lost his father after a long illness, and his father-in-law.
What sustains him through that grief and life’s trials is his family and his strong faith.
Eddie’s readiness to help out on the road had earned him the nickname the cycling chaplain by 2006.
Now it’s less a nickname than a job description – he was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church last year.
He still works at Powercor.
Though he no longer races, he still takes part in fund raising rides like the annual Murray to Moyne.
He still organises the annual Ride of Silence in Bendigo to remember cyclists killed on the road.
And he still publishes a weekly email newsletter.
In 2006, it had grown over nine years from an audience of five to over 300 who were based mainly around Bendigo with some reaching to Melbourne.
Now his newsletter goes out to more than 900 people who are located all over Australia.
If Eddie’s intention in starting the newsletter was to help create a sense of community among cyclists in Bendigo, that community has grown beyond anything he originally imagined.
Eddie has always believed that cycling crosses all social boundaries and creates opportunities for networking and understanding that might not exist elsewhere.
“It really encourages me – the number of people across all walks of life,” he said in 2006.
“CEOs, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, builders, plumbers, electricians.”
Such communities need a glue to hold them together and Eddie is in large part that glue.
We may no longer open the Bendigo Weekly to see who Eddie has profiled this week, but his ministry continues.
If you see him pedalling to work, wave and say hello. He always has time for a chat.
And if you’re not on his mailing list he’ll happily hand you a business card and ask you to email him so he can add you.


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