Sunday, February 15, 2009


I fell off a skateboard when I was 39, broke my ankle, was hospitalized, had surgery, endured a foot to hip non-weight-bearing cast for 6 weeks, and lost my nerve.

When Terri declared a No Presents zone this Valentine's Day, I suggested we DO something - like take an aerial tour over Austin. When I found those by helicopter, I thought I had the right idea, but they wanted $4-500 for what I'd say was a quickie. Too much.

We had seen Segway tours of people through downtown... people leaning forward gliding along in single file behind a guide. I'd read about these things and wondered what it'd be like.

Terri agreed.

We chose the 2 hour tour which seemed a little more speed-oriented and wasn't the downtown stop at every house and listen to the history of the Guy Who Grew Old There.

I booked the deal Friday, when it was 78 degrees and sunny.

Then I started to believe I'd fall and break my arm. I thought Terri would be okay. This might have to do with the fact that she jumped out of an airplane and I would not do that. Plus I had lingering fear from my last and final skateboard ride.

Saturday dawned cool, cloudy and windy. These three things travel together in Texas.
They probably also stay at the big downtown Holiday Inn, which is where we went, dressed in layers, to Segway. It was 53 degrees.

Stepping on one, held by the instructor, was an immediate moment of instability, trying to 'locate the center' as the guide put it. While the glider didn't want to throw me off, its rapid adjustments caused my over compensations to oscillate for a few seconds. But pretty soon, we had the hang of it, however tenuously, and soon we were in line and amazed as our instructor/guide was riding forward but looking backward, videotaping us all.

We rode through Austin East Side neighborhoods, in what we'll call "transition." Alongside some of the smallest - no, the very smallest homes I've ever seen, are condos, duplexes, 6 plexes (at $650,000 per!) We saw modern homes next to the most run down. We passed two biker groups (gangs?) forming for an evening out. SOCIAL NOTE: It's impossible to look tough rising a dorky Segway, leaning while standing, wearing a bicycle helmet, and in my case, a jacket with BOB in big orange letters on the back. I tried for friendly.

The pit bull was stopped by a metal fence. At another shack, the three German Shepherds seemed too lazy to chase us. I am sure they could have jumped that little fence. Think: tiny house, maybe a 6 x 12 foot 'yard' and 3 German Shepherds.

For almost two hours we glided along. If you haven't seen one of these things, I'll link here, though this ends in a crash. Another one you can search for is Chimp on a Segway. You can get hurt, but I think you have to try. Or be drunk. Or stupid.
Or get hit by a car.

Afterward we discovered that perhaps due to nerves, some muscles were rubbery or sore (maybe from an initial CLENCH?)

For me, I can't see any practicality of owning one, and they will crest a 20 degree hill, but I think our hills here are steeper.

We might return on a warmer day, as veterans of gliding, to take the City Tour.

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