Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Segway Tour: It's fun! Don't judge!

Have you ever been on a Segway tour? I went for the first time this past weekend with my husband, my mom, and my sister. My sister had bought us the tickets for a guided tour of Washington D.C. last Christmas but between my broken ankle and my mom’s foot surgery and all of our busy schedules it took us until October to schedule the tour. My mom and sister arrived at our house Thursday night and all day Friday we prayed the rain would stop in time for our tour on Saturday. Which, thankfully, it did. So we headed out to the city with cheerful hearts while my daughter stayed home with her favorite babysitter.

Segways are not hard to ride, but it took me a while to get used to it. You use your body weight to move forward and backwards. Lean forward and the Segway rolls forward. The more you lean the faster it rolls, up to 12 mph. Lean left and right to turn and lean backward to slow down or move backwards. If you want to hold still stand perfectly upright and balanced (not easy). I’ve noticed that since I broke my ankle I am anxious about unstable surfaces and the possibility of falling. So at first I was scared stepping up and down off the platform and rolling back and forth. Fortunately our guide was patient and kind and the company (Capital Segway in downtown D.C. is the company we toured with: http://www.capitalsegway.com) gives you a little lesson in the store and then takes you to a nearby park to practice before you hit the streets. By the time we really got going I had mastered the controls although my feet were cramping from tension at first. After about the first hour I felt comfortable with it and was able to relax and enjoy the stories our guide was telling via headset.

Touring D.C. by Segway during a government shutdown is still fun. The monuments and museums are closed but you can’t go into them on a Segway anyway, and you can still look at the buildings. We were able to cover about 7 miles of touring in 2 hours, which is much more than we’d have managed walking in that time. We zipped past the White House, the Vietnam memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (which we slipped inside to see while our guide watched the parked Segways… I think Congress needs to take a field trip down there and read the words engraved on the walls). Then back up past the Washington Monument (covered in scaffolding) and up the streets that line the National Mall. Which are currently open to pedestrians and bikes but not cars, so we were able to take the Segways up to their top speed of 12mph and cruise up the empty streets. We stopped in front of the Capitol building, which is still beautiful despite the people who work there. Then back up through D.C. streets to our starting point.

About the only sour note in the entire outing was the bystander who felt called upon to call out “Nice exercise!” in a sarcastic sneering tone as we guided the machines up a ramp onto a sidewalk. Since I was still focused on staying on the Segway (ramps were a little nerve wracking throughout the tour) I didn’t respond. I probably wouldn’t have anyway, since I don’t typically engage in arguments with strangers on the street. But what I wanted to say is “Hey buddy, back off. I’m not stupid. I know I’m not getting any exercise here. That isn’t the point of today’s adventure. I’ll take a walk later today for exercise, but the point of this tour is to spend some time with my family doing something fun that I’ve never done before. So don’t judge!”  

Obnoxious pedestrians aside, it was an outstanding outing. I learned some things I didn’t know about the city I live in (the National Gallery of Art has a tunnel connecting the East and West wings! I will have to check that out if the government ever opens up again!), I shared a mild adventure with my family, and I learned a new (albeit somewhat useless) skill. That’s a great way to spend a Saturday.