RISMEDIA, August 28, 2009-(MCT)-Hoofing it through a state park can get you blisters and aching muscles. But, at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, the going gets easier when you see the changing landscape-woods, swamp, boardwalk, wildflowers and beach-from a Segway PT.
Segway of Hampton Roads uses the electric personal transporters to give 90-minute guided tours of the 2,900-acre state park and its osprey trail. It also offers tours in the historic Freemason area in downtown Norfolk and off season at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, all in southeastern Virginia.
Riding a Segway PT is a little intimidating at first, but Mark Landers, who co-owns the dealership, patiently provides basic training that takes 15 minutes or less. “Step on it like you step on a ladder,” he says to nervous first-time rider Phyllis Beers of Virginia Beach. “Look at me, look at me,” he softly tells Beers as she puts one foot, then the next foot on the personal transporter’s platform. “Stand up straight. Look at me and find your center of balance.”
Once you find your center of balance, riding a Segway PT is simple. Call it intuitive transportation-the PT goes where you lean. Straighten up and you stop. Using LeanSteer technology, five micro-machined gyroscopes and two accelerometers automatically sense changing terrain and your body’s position. “It becomes a part of you and you don’t even have to think about it,” says Virginia Beach resident Jackie Gaskins, who bought her own Segway PT in February.
The next challenge is riding the personal transporters across traffic-heavy Shore Drive to the Cape Henry Trail that meanders through the state park. Like a mother duck and ducklings, Landers leads the group. He’s proud of his safety record, so he keeps reminding everyone to pay attention to his instructions.
Safely across Shore Drive and into the quietness of the paved trail, you realize the Segway PT makes no noise. Instead, you hear crickets chirping and birds singing. The group glides past a garden blooming with every flower imaginable.
The state park trail also takes you past several historic Native American exhibits, including an Indian burial ground. At a rest stop, a short boardwalk leads to a small swamp filled with bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss and dragonflies doing touch-and-goes on the surface of the water.
From there, the group heads to a longer boardwalk and sandy beach overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. “I always tell people that this is the most beautiful spot in all of Virginia,” says Landers..
All about Segway PT
-Each Segway PT is powered by a pair of lithium-ion batteries that recharge when you ride downhill; when there are no hills, the unit plugs into any wall outlet. A single charge takes you 24 miles.
-A Segway PT goes up to 12 1/2 miles per hour.
-The personal transporter’s brushless motors are maintenance free; there’s no oil to change or clutch to replace. Tires, which last 1,200 to 1,800 miles, depending on terrain, are $100 each to replace.
-More than 1,000 police and security departments worldwide currently use the Segway PT in law-enforcement, bomb-disposal and public-safety work.
-There are more than 250 Segway Guided Tours worldwide; certification by Segway Inc. ensures your safety.
Take the tour
Segway of Hampton Roads gives certified guided tours seven days a week, year-round. Tours are $60 per person; ages 14 and up are permitted.
(c) 2009, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.