Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Segue to a Segway

It's been seven years (!!!) since we were in the San Diego area and at that time we took a Greyline-type bus tour of the city to get an overview of the area.  This year while Googling area attractions I found a website offering a tour of San Diego while riding Segways and I was intrigued enough to sign us up.

The website had stated that parking next door in the hotel parking garage was free, but knowing there are sometimes height restrictions I called ahead and sure enough, the ceilings of the parking garage were too low for Black Beauty.  The tour operator I spoke with said that there was a parking lot five blocks away where we could park for $5 so that's where we headed the day of our tour, only to discover that the parking fee was $20 because it was Mardi Gras parade day in the city (which the tour operator had forgotten about).  To be fair, the tour guide did offer to put coins in the parking meter if we parked on the street, but we couldn't find any open spots nearby so we bit the bullet and paid the price.  Most people won't have this problem!

Upon our arrival, we were shown a video on how to ride the Segways along with safety precautions.  We were asked to sign a liability waiver and told to pick out a helmet to wear.  Once outside, the Segway was demonstrated by our personal tour guide and then each of us was given a lesson in getting on and off the Segway, starting and stopping (with heavy emphasis on stopping) and turning.  We were allowed to practice in the courtyard for several minutes until we felt comfortable going out on the street.

The Segways are in a sense motorized gyroscopes; they automatically balance as you shift your weight.  When you shift forward on your toes, the machine goes forward and when you shift back on your heels the Segway stops.  Lean the handlebar to the left and you do a 360 degree turn on a dime.  It's incredibly maneuverable and easy to ride, being almost intuitive once you become accustomed to the handling of the machine.  And let's not forget fun!

Our tour took us past the San Diego convention center, by Gaslight Quarters, Petco Field, over to Seaside Village and along San Diego Bay, up to Balboa Park and back to the tour office.  Our distance round trip was estimated at ten miles and it was fun seeing San Diego from the sidewalk rather than from a bus.  You will get a lot more information on the bus tour because the guide is explaining the sights all the time whereas on the Segway, you are riding along looking at the sights, stopping for a minute to hear about the area and take a picture and then moving on.  The tour is supposed to last about 2 hours but ours took 2 1/2 because we did have two accidents in our group.  The first was when the mother of two pre-teens that was part of our group of five hit a rough spot crossing a street and lost control of her Segway, falling down and hitting her head.  Thank goodness for the helmet, because that took most of the hit.  Luckily for all of us, a tourist nearby was a paramedic and he checked out the lady before allowing her to get up.  She was mainly shaken, although her neck hurt, but she continued the rest of their segment of the tour because her kids were having so much fun.  It had been obvious to Denny and I from the beginning that she was not comfortable with riding the Segway.  The other accident was when Denny and I were riding up a rather steep hill to Balboa Park and Denny's Segway came to a stop.  Denny tried to get off and the Segway flipped, causing Denny's fall with accompanying scrapes.  He was okay (although very stiff and sore today) and dragged the Segway to a level spot on the hill midway up and mounted up and made it the rest of the way up the hill okay. 

Perhaps our experience was a fluke. According to a couple of articles I found online, most people doing these types of tours have no problems.  I do know that if given the opportunity to do this again in another city, yep, 
I'd give it a shot because I had a lot of fun and think it's a great way to get up close and personal to the sights of a new town.  I like the idea of the Fisherman's Wharf tour company where they have wireless headsets for  the tour guide to explain the sights as are you are riding your Segway because that also allows the guide to give everyone fair warning of riding hazards.   All in all, it was a great way to spend the day.                                                                   

1 comment:

SkippyMom said...

You guys are the bee's knees on those things [not to mention y'all have cute legs too] :D

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