Uncomfortable Leads to Fun: Segways in Columbus

I’ve found that pushing past the uncomfortable leads to growth, as well as a whole lot of fun. That’s true regardless of the kind of uncomfortable. Knowing this, I seek opportunities to make myself uncomfortable. If you follow my posts, you know this to be true. I recently visited Columbus, Ohio to attend the Rock on the Range festival. As we usually do when we travel for concerts and festivals, we left some time to discover nearby locales. I knew nothing about Columbus, and we were somewhat limited by time, so we decided to take a Segway tour.

What’s a Segway? According to Wikipedia, it’s a “two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle”. I disagree with the “self-balancing” part, but I’ll get to that later.

Segways in Columbus

Columbus offers Segway tours through a company called SegAway Tours. They currently lead two tours: the Original City tour and the River and Bridges tour. Each guided tour lasts approximately 2 hours and begins with a tutorial on how to ride a Segway. We chose the 6pm River and Bridges tour.

My first step onto a Segway was very uncomfortable. It was very similar to my first step onto a skateboard (and probably my first time on skates, but I don’t remember that). Since I could never quite master skateboarding, I had a moment of panic. What if I couldn’t stay upright on the Segway? The panic passed as our guide explained how to balance ourselves and move in each direction. Once I understood how to control the thing, I found that moving it was quite intuitive. When you move, the Segway moves. That makes it easy, but also kind of dangerous if you become distracted. A bit of strangeness about the Segway: when you jump off of it while it’s moving it doesn’t immediately stop. It continues on in the same direction for about 5-6 feet. We witnessed this when a member of our group picked up a lot speed, tried to stop, lost control, and jumped off of his Segway as it headed toward the street. Disaster was averted, but our guide suggested that if we lose control we should try to aim for a building or tree rather than the street (easier said than done). And yes, Segways are “self-balancing”, except you are the “self” in “self-balancing”. At one point our guide was telling us about the history of a tall building. We were stopped, but as I looked up to admire the architecture, I inadvertently leaned back. Leaning back on a Segway tells the Segway to drive in reverse, which it started to do. Fortunately, I snapped back to the moment pretty quickly and stopped leaning, but not before falling off the thing.

Our guide at SegAway Tours was well-informed about the city, easily answering our questions and making suggestions for things to see and do after our tour. He obviously had an appreciation for Columbus and a passion for Segways. The more we drove, the more natural the Segways felt, and I was able to focus on Columbus. We zipped along sidewalks and I was pleasantly surprised. Downtown Columbus offers lots of green space, with beautiful parks tucked away between little contained neighborhoods, each with their own restaurants, shops, and charm. Our tour took us on cobblestone streets, past historical theaters and interesting sculptures, and along a lovely waterfront walkway. As the sun began to set, we crossed the river, giving us a panoramic view of the skyline.

Did I look like a fool? Yep. Was I terrified of injury or death? Pretty much. But did I have fun? Absolutely! Segways are a unique way to see a city.

How was your experience on a Segway? What are some other unconventional ways to see a locale? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.


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