Bicycle Network: Ride On magazine
Tribute to Tony Barter
Rebecca Dunn remembers a great character and passionate riding advocate, Tony Barter. He is pictured below on the front cover of Ride On as the original Ride to Work cycling angel.
As we arrive at the one year anniversary of his death on 28 November 2011 from cancer, I am reflecting on Tony and his contribution to riding, and life in general.
Tony loved the Great Vic rides, what they represented and what they offered to people and to riders. Last year, when Tony was admitted to palliative care at the end of October, he was still making plans to attend the 2010 Great Vic from his hospital bed, and contribute in some way.
Tony is missed by many people, and greatly by me. When battling cancer the focus is on just that, and being with the person, I did not think of what life would be like without him. It has been a tough and challenging year, and I am riding the Great Vic this year in his honour.
Two of the legacies Tony has left behind are reflected in his great love of cycling
Tony was the inspiration behind, and a founding member of, the fantastic Warby volunteer team, that started on the 2003 Great Vic ride with five, and has now expanded to be an essential part of the ride, and a dynamic team of 16. Tony spent most of the time at the rear of the ride, fixing problems, inspiring riders and ensuring he was right behind them.
His approach to touring was to ride averaging at 15km per hour, enjoy the scenery, lend a helping hand and have time to stop for afternoon tea.
One of my many memories of Tony was on the 2009 Great Vic, when he was taking the time at the end of the ride to help a young girl on a pink bike, and her Mum, ride. He had them riding around in circles in Port Fairy on the oval. In that moment his sole focus was getting the young girl to improve – which she did as we watched.
Friends and Warby team members often said it took half an hour or more to get from breakfast to the front gate as Tony knew so many people, and they all wanted to stop and chat.
On day one of the 2001 Tassie Ride, we were riding to Stanley when Tony stopped outside a cafe and started waving at people to stop for afternoon tea. I stopped at the cafe despite the good speed I was doing, and that has subsequently defined my approach to touring – a gentle pace, and always time to look at the sights and enjoy tea and scones. We laughed at the sheer joy of being outside on a bike in a beautiful place. We continued the tradition on many Great Escapes and Great Vic rides.
Tony’s other legacy is as a Ride to Work Angel. He was the original Angel, and loved wearing the wings. There is a great photo in an edition of Ride On of him in his wings assisting a cyclist. Tony was passionate about Ride to Work Day and encouraging people to ride to their workplace.
I stood with Tony on Ride to Work Day in our yellow shirts in Fairfield, encouraging and saying hi to riders. He was able to be there in Federation Square in 2010 with a penny farthing bicycle. Many people have started riding to work through Tony’s example
What stands out about Tony is his love of people, his willingness to be involved, to help, his love of life, and his cycling ability. I was the stoker on many a tandem ride and was impressed by his skills on the bike.
It is said we do not know the hour of our death, and we should live life to the full. Tony embraced life. He had a sign in his house saying, “I would rather be riding”. I am so grateful I seized the day when he asked and went riding with him, including three Great Tassie rides, one New Zealand ride, three Great Vic rides, a Blue Mountains ride, the Mawson Trail and a Bicycling South Australia ride through the Grampians.
I urge you all to take the time to be with your friends and family and ride with them now