SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. — I think it was in 2000 when my friend Tom told me about what would become known as the Segway. He was quite proud of the fact he accurately determined that the Dean Kamen’s project IT or Ginger was some sort of scooter with gyroscopes, and was talking to a Times reporter about it. Now, many years later, Segways are well-known, and something I see around my office campus and downtown D.C. regularly. Videos of the Capitals on Segways in downtown D.C. were greeted with much enthusiasm. Up until this week, however, I had never been on one.
In June, I opened an email from Jamie Connor of Moving Foward Rentals, a company that offers Segway tours of Sea Isle City. Connor offered me two free rentals in exchange for “an open post on your blog describing your experience (no matter how critical).” Since Sea Isle City is only “two beaches up” from Stone Harbor, I took him up on the offer on Tuesday. Erica joined me, as did my father, who paid his own way (about $40).
Upon our arrival, we watched s safety/how-to video that proved to be quite entertaining. We learned that improper Segway use could be very hazardous to the stick figure on the DVD, or us. Following the video, Kimi, our tour guide, demonstrated how to safely use a Segway and helped all of us “get our wheels.” She predicted that two of the riders, both of whom may have the same first name that starts with a “W”, would be trouble. After several minutes rolling around the showroom, we were ready to roll out on our tour. Oh and there were release forms to fill out. If you do rent a Segway, you probably don’t want to destroy it.
Kimi took us through the bay side of Sea Isle to start. Our tour was initially along mostly empty streets. There were several straightaways that gave us the opportunity to open up the Segways and reach the maximum allowable speed of 12 MPH. Here Kimi’s suspicion was confirmed as one rider was forcibly dismounted by a curb. The other troublemaker was disappointed to be too slow to get out the camera, but was pleased there was no serious injury. That rider was also quite pleased to see that the governor switch that restricts the speed to 12 MPH was imperfect and that a top speed of 13.1 MPH was achieved. Actually, that is the top known speed, so it could have been a little faster.
After some time riding along city streets, Kimi directed us to the asphalt promenade that Sea Isle City calls its boardwalk. Here we had the additional challenge of navigating around walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and park benches. Along the way, Kimi chatted with us and the family of four that was part of the tour. She was quite personable.
After the boardwalk ended, we were back on the streets of Sea Isle City. I saw the unmistakable umbrella of a Sabrett hot dog stand and decided to stop and get one. My wife and father also indulged. Steering the Segway with one hand was not too hard, but I certainly kept my speed lower.
The tour continued for a little while longer and wrapped around back to the Moving Forward storefront. In all, we were probably out for about 90 minutes. It was quite enjoyable, we all had a good time. I enjoyed riding a Segway, and hope to have another opportunity. It only took a few minutes to get used to it. After the tour, we were all given Moving Forward t-shirts as well. My dad noted that Moving Forward might want to include a sign out front that indicates a lesson was included in the rental, so that potential customers who have never used a Segway would not be intimidated, which struck me as a good point. Otherwise, we were pleased with Moving Forward; their Segway tour was one of the most memorable parts of our vacation.