Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…Segway king

Going on a Segway has long been one of those stupid ambitions of mine that is easily achievable yet all I do is say ‘I really want to do that sometime’. I finally got round to living that dream in Oakland, next to San Francisco.

greatmengreatbeardPosts are not in chronological order

When I first embarked on my travels a friend suggested I attempt a crazy stunt, such as Segwaying solo across Australia. By taking a slightly convoluted route I found a way that I could record the longest Segway journey ever made, one that Guinness World Records confirmed I’d set, only to be stopped by the poor battery life and the company’s refusal to sponsor me with a vehicle.

Aside from that almost-adventure, there are a few times I’d nearly done it before. After around walking like Lille zoo like some sort of neanderthal I came out of an exit to see a Segway hire stand and realised that I could’ve been going round the animal exhibits in style, in Canberra I flipped a coin between riding a Segway by the water or going to see the fancy foreign embassies and in Sydney I bought a voucher from some discount site and never got round to using it. There’s nothing quite like paying for an e-mail you never use.

With around a fortnight in San Francisco I had time to check out some of the local areas and online deals so when I found a cheap Segway coupon I thought it was time to take the leap.

Getting started on a Segway is easy. There are a few wobbles to begin with but within a few minutes I was confident and soon zipping around the car park at daring speeds of almost 10mph.

Once everyone in the class was ready our tour guide took us around Oakland. I say ‘tour guide’, really just a guy with a Segway who knows his way.

First we went past the homeless centre, where people made makeshift tents and a small slum, then onto nicer sites like Jack London Square and some lake or other. There were some grand buildings, statues and things too but it’s hard to take photos on a Segway and, like I said, the tour leader wasn’t much of a guide.

oaklandbluebuilding

oaklandlake

jacklondonsquare

oaklandoakThe Oakland oak

Being on a Segway is an incredible experience, kind of how I imagine floating would feel. Apart from when you go over a slight bump and it feels like you’re about to fall to your death. After a while I actually started to feel an ache in my knees and legs, but that might be because I’m not used to standing in the same position for so long.

There was a time when Segways seemed to be the future of transport for evil villains and, to a lesser extent, normal rich people and I hope that does one day come.

Oakland overall seemed like quite a nice city/town/suburb although it was long past its heyday and now there seems to be a lot of decay, which is a bit of a shame. I’m not sure if the council will use that sentence in their advertising material or not.

After the tour I went to a vegan soul place which was amazing, the first time I’ve really had southern style food (or as close as I can) and it was fantastic. One thing I will say about America is that it’s general restaurants don’t cater that well for my likes, but there are a lot more specialised places than other countries I’ve visited. One more reason to skip the burger joints.

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Filed under: north america, , ,

6 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Did you ever watch Arrested Development? It’s not possible for me to take Segways seriously after that. Nor was it before, actually.

    I like the idea of Australians watching you pass by on your pointless epic journey and building a slow motion following like that bit in Forrest Gump where he runs. If you took plenty of audiobooks you could get a lot of reading done. Fine, I’ll do it.

    • Oliver says:

      I’ve seen one or two episodes, but not enough to really know what you’re talking about. Off to YouTube I go (other video sharing sites are available to watch clips posted illegally online).

      I got quite far in my Segway research. I worked out the rough route I was taking, guessing going between certain towns and cities wouldn’t be hard to do (ie go in a straight line), found out it was illegal in NSW but no other state, found out the longest journey to date so I knew what I had to beat, e-mailed GWR to get confirmation, lined up someone to drive alongside me as my backup vehicle who would also film/document the journey but then I was let down at the end. I think I could make 25 km on a single battery and that a Segway costs a few thousand to buy. I look forward to seeing you living my dream.

  2. Mike P says:

    Interesting

  3. Rich Goyer says:

    Good stuff

  4. time out says:

    excellent..

  5. MHQ says:

    interesting post

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