My last blog post from 2015 remained frozen in time, back when I learned about Melbourne’s literary community. During that time, I was a fanfiction writer and a carer with an e-cargobike, who slowly cycled around the inner west suburbs of Melbourne.
Since then, my fannish behaviour moved from fandom to meeting authors in real life. I found myself pedalling outside my comfort zone, fangirling local authors & attending literary events. I even followed them on social media. Eventually, by 2016, I joined two local writing groups.
Because I don’t drive a car, my cargobike was my everyday transport. Equipped with a battery and a pedal-assist motor, I easily cycled to and from writing groups and writers’ events with ease. My published works (non-fiction and artwork) reflected how integral cycling was in my writing life.
But there were limitations: I couldn’t put my cargobike on to the train (due to its bigger-than-usual wooden box) and regional train operator V/Line would not guarantee a place in their cargo hold when I was keen to attend regional literary festivals.
In 2017, the unexpected happened: my e-cargobike broke down and none of the west-side bicycle shops could fix it. To make matters worse, the distributor had moved interstate. Even a highly recommended, specialised bicycle shop located northside of Melbourne was unable to locate the fault. I ended up only using the cargobike for school runs two blocks from home; and an old trike (which had sat in our garage for the longest time) became my kid-free ride.
My trips to attend different literary events became limited – I would cancel at the last minute when I realised I wouldn’t make it on time with my trike. Share rides (Uber and Shebah) were options, but they ate up what little money I received as an emerging writer and carer—money that could have gone towards other necessities instead.
Braybrook Hub’s library became my sanctuary, my haven. It was where I would write while my kids were in school, which was two blocks away.
I hope one day to own a step-through e-folding bicycle, to make my trips to writing group sessions and local literary events easier and more accessible. I could even attend regional literary festivals, loading the e-folder with ease onto regional trains without worrying about space.
And as a writer of colour, regular attendance to different literary events would add diversity and representation (woman of colour/carer/disability/mental health) to a usually homogeneous audience.
For now, loading the trike on the local train during non-peak hours help me get to West Writers Group sessions at Footscray Community Art Centre just in the nick of time.