Thursday, October 23, 2008


For those of you who don't know, I ride a Segway to work. Nearly every day.

The early models had a fixed handlebar and you turned by twisting the left handle. Five gyroscopes in the base monitored your balance and made adjustments to keep you upright. But it only corrected for front and back balance. If you hit a hole, rock, or large fault in the sidewalk you could lose control. I did a couple of times. It makes you understand why the speed is limited to 12.5 MPH.

But this required wiring to run up through the steering column. When you detached the handlebar assembly the wires liked to climb up inside and refuse to come out.

The new model works differently. The handlebars pivot at the base. This allows you to steer by leaning the handlebars to the right or left. But you're not always driving on a level surface. If you're driving along a 5° slope and you're trying to stand up straight the steering column would be at a 5° slope and the Segway would try to turn. They made it so the Segway also compensates for right and left tilt. Thus the steering column goes straight as long as it's parallel to the pull of gravity instead of perpendicular to the ground. So there have been several times I'd hit something that would have confused the old model but the new model shook it off and kept going.

That is until this morning.

I'm blasting along the sidewalk (because the street is narrow enough that the bike lane is a joke) when this brick sized rock viciously lies there on the sidewalk at me. My right tire hits the rock and launches up off the ground. So I'm careening down the sidewalk barely balanced on one wheel. If my course hadn't been altered by the impact the airborne wheel would have come back down in another second or three and I would have gotten a thrill but forgotten about it by the time I made it to the office. Instead I was now headed for the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street. I couldn't steer and hadn't yet thought to jump. When the remaining tire hit the grass the Segway pitched forward and threw me. Somehow my right leg got under the Segway and we went sliding together.

The Segway stopped 10 ft beyond the rock. I jumped up, put my shoe back on, removed the rock from the path, and hopped back on the Segway. After that adventure I'd lost some skin from my ankle but that's all.
This is my old Segway, but that's not me riding it. He'd lost his leg in Iraq and rode the Segway like he was born to it.


Sweetly Single said...


No more soup for you!

lacochran said...

I never knew anybody before who owned a Segway.

Oh, I guess I still don't.

Huh. Interesting.

Ibid said...

Yummy refuses to get on it. She views it much like Calvin views his bike.

I live 4.5 miles from work, door-to-door, and ride both ways almost every day. When there's snow or ice out I find alternatives. When it's raining I try to cover up more. When it drops below 52° I switch to a snowmobile helmet to keep the wind out of my face. At about 20-25° I start wearing thermal coveralls.

But I never have to fight for parking or pay for gas.

Malaise Inc said...

Well, all I can say is that I hope you jumped up, brushed off your suit, and confidently said "I meant to do that" ala Pee Wees Big Adventure.

That is what I would do, anyways.

Ibid said...

Nobody was watching, but I've done that before.

Yummy said...

SEE?! I TOLD YOU THAT THING WAS DANGEROUS! If you, the Segway Master, could go down in a hail of fire and brimstone, can you imagine what would happen if I got on it? THE APOCALYPSE, that's what.