Driving an alternative mode of transport.
When I put this challenge on my 101in1001 list I had no idea what it would mean. A tractor? An offroad vehicle, an horse and cart? I wanted to keep the challenge open.
When I got a cash Christmas present from my boss, I didn’t want to bank it (such presents always get spent on groceries) I wanted to make sure I did something special. I looked down the Red Letter Day and Virgin experience websites and one thing jumped out at me. A Segway ride for two. I had never ridden a Segway and thought that it sounded fun and bonus! It would tick of one of my challenges.
It is not often that you buy an ‘experience’ for yourself rather than a gift but this WAS a gift and it was exactly what I wanted.
And then, like most gift experiences I forgot about it and realised when the expiry date was almost upon me.
The next thing to do was choose a venue and date. The venue was easy, it was to take place at Blacklands Farm which funnily enough was were I ticked off a couple of my last challenges, but the only date they could over was a the weekend of a dance show that I was heavily involved in. I choose the Sunday morning. I knew that it would be at the end of a very long week, however I also know that focusing on something completely different would be good for me.
As it happened in the run-up to the event the organisers Segway Events had to change the venue from Blacklands to The Tilgate Forest Golf Centre in Crawley but that wasn’t a problem, just an extra couple of miles.
Arriving at the Golf Centre with my son and 10 other people there were numerous forms to fill in and safety checks to do, we were given knee and elbow pads and a helmet to put on before given instructions by the representative of Segway Events and were given our Segway.
Manoeuvring a Segway is not as easy as it looks. They move by weight distribution and it is quite unnatural to lean forward. Saying that though once you had built your confidence up it was quite easy to take part in the team games. We took part in several relays, going round cones, taking our hands off the segways and squatting down. I definitely hindered my team but the games were fun.
We then had an offroading session. We were led down a track and into a wooded area with a narrow track and a small grassy clearing off to one side. Hazards such as sharp turns, uneven ground and tree stumps were marked by cones so that they could be seen easily.
The instructor took us round the track once which took two or three minutes before letting us loose to roam the area on our segways by ourselves.
It was fantastic fun, the machine hummed and whined round the course and everyone was having a good time, some people were going faster than others, one person was just enjoying riding up and down the small hill.
I was going great guns until I decided to try and be clever. I was going quite slowly and could happily go forwards and backwards. I thought I would try and master a simple manoeuvre going backwards. Next thing I knew I was on the floor having fallen off. Serves me right. The footplate on a Segway is about a foot off the ground and I discovered when falling off backwards it is not the protected knees, elbows and head that hits the ground first but your backside – ouch.
The instructor was by my side in a second (how to you make segways go that fast?) and helped me up. He said I could sit out for a while if I liked but with only ten minutes of my ‘experience’ left I jumped straight back on.
Maybe because I was tired by now or a little bit stiff from my fall but a few minutes later I was on the ground again having misjudged a bit of mud that was a bit slippier and deeper than I thought – yes, I fell right in it.
Must admit, after the second fall I was rather glad when our time came to an end and we drove our segways back to the start.
A corker of a bruise appeared over the next couple of days, but yes it was worth it, yes I enjoyed my Segway experience and I would definitely do it again without the bravado gungho attitude. Steady and carefully next time.
Hats (or helmets) off to the guys at Segway Events, it was a great morning and I cannot fault them, the safety instructions were clear and precise – the segways were really cool and the location was very convenient. Highly recommended.