Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
Theodore Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, wasn’t referring to taking a ride on a Segway when he wrote those words, but they certainly apply.
What is a Segway? It’s a personal, electric transportation device. You’ve probably seen them on TV. They look like a flat box with a wheel on each side and a long t-shaped handle sticking up in the middle.
A Segway operates on a rechargeable battery and offers the benefit of zero-emissions to create a “green” mode of transportation. Understanding the engineering of this amazing device is too complicated for my right-sided brain, but the official Segway web site offers this explanation:
The technology inside a Segway PT consists of an intelligent network of sensors, mechanical assemblies, and control systems that balance and move you on two wheels. The second you step on, five micro-machined gyroscopes and two accelerometers sense the changing terrain and your body position at 100 times per second – faster than your brain can think.
Translation: Stand on it and it will go.
It all started with an email from my friend Allie Chick. She asked if I would be interested in taking advantage of a Living Social deal for half price on a Segway in Paradise tour of downtown Pittsburgh. I’m usually up for new adventures, and this was something I’d wanted to try, especially with the price tag coming in around $30.
We scheduled our two-hour tour on a weekday evening in early October. As Segway riding weather goes, we could not have asked for a better day. It was BEE-U-T-FUL.
Our group included me, Allie Chick and her sister, Stephi Chick, along with about ten others. The first order of business was selecting helmets, a required accessory for Segway riding. Most were black, but I managed to snag the snazzy red one that coordinated with my outfit (helmets that clash with one’s outfit are so gauche). After that we were each assigned a Segway unit, taught how to ride it, and ordered to go practice in a designated area.The beautiful Pittsburgh skyline was a great backdrop for a photo of the Chicks.
At first, it was a little intimidating. To make the Segway move, you hold the t-shaped handle and simply lean forward ever so slightly, thus shifting your weight to the front of your feet. It’s the same thing to back up, except you lean back just a fraction. Turning left or right requires a marginal shift to either side. To slow down you stand up straighter, and to stop altogether you simply stand straight and level your weight on your feet. It sounds more complicated than it actually is.
After we’d practiced for a while, we were ready to take to the streets, or in this case the sidewalks, of the city. Before we left the building, our guide, a young man who appeared to be all of twelve years old and could benefit from a few lessons in elocution and diction (pardon my crabby old fart moment, but he was annoyingly difficult to understand), asked us if we’d like to “unlock” the faster speed option on the units. The Chicks and I were all for it, as were most of the others, but, naturally, there were a couple duds in the group who were afraid. Majority ruled however, and we were ready to rock and roll.
Riding a Segway does not make you feel as if you’re a participant in the Indy 500. It feels more like riding a bike than racing, and if you find yourself at risk of getting a speeding ticket, you just stand straighter to slow down.
We traveled across bridges, through the business district, along the river, and past a couple of ball parks, stopping once for a photo opp and to give our legs a rest. My favorite part was when we Seged our Way along the North Shore without the interruption of traffic lights and pedestrians. This was where we were finally able to test out those slightly faster speeds we’d been promised.The statue of Bill Mazeroski outside of PNC Park was just one of the sites we took in during our Segway in Paradise Tour. Stephi Chick snapped this great photo.
It was so much fun! I’m talking about epic levels of fun. The Chicks and I enjoyed it so much we wanted to purchase our very own Segways. After some research into the cost of one of these units, however, we decided that our budgets would be better served with an occasional outing via our local Segway tour provider.
If you’re blessed to live in or visit a part of the world where it’s Segway weather at this time of year and Segway tours are offered, I suggest you schedule your tour immediately. Otherwise, make plans to take a tour as soon as the weather permits.
And don’t let that little issue of signing a waiver before you step on intimidate you. Everyone in our group, including the duds, survived our tour injury free.We’re thinking of joining the Pro Segway Racing Tour, as long as I can have a red helmet.
Chickaliciousness: 5+ for fast riding fun