I started riding things on two wheels over fifty years ago: from an old red scooter to my first 20-inch wheeled bike. At age 11, I began riding my first motorized two-wheeler. With only 65cc, I couldn’t really leave the neighborhood. Next came bigger bikes with lots more “speeds,” then motorized versions with 750 and 1100cc. After all these years of riding on two wheels, I would now tackle a most unique and odd two-wheeled vehicle: a Segway. It has no throttle or brakes, at least none as I know them.
The idea was to tour historic Yorktown, Virginia on a Segway. After watching a safety video and adjusting my helmet, I was ready to climb on board. The folks at Patriot Tours did a wonderful job of teaching me the ropes, the proper way to move about on this self balancing two-wheeler.
How hard could it be? Step on the platform and stand still and perfectly straight. I stepped on, and could feel myself rolling forward a couple of inches, and then back a couple of inches. I was rocking from my toes to my heels, and with each roll the Segway responded.
With a slight lean forward, my rocking stopped, and I very slowly began to move forward. To stop, all I needed to do was stand up straight.
Wow, it was easier than riding a bike? Turning required only a slight leaning of the handlebar. Standing straight and leaning the handlebar allowed you to turn around with no forward or backward movement.
Before leaving the shop, we each needed to demonstrate that we could move forward and backward, stop, and turn in place.
With our brief, but thorough, instructions we were off. We headed down the brick sidewalk and around the Watermans’ museum to the pathway along the York River. Our skills improved quickly as we rolled along. From the waterfront, we crossed the road under the watchful eye of our guide.
Heading up a steep hill we entered the Historic District, a car-free zone. Our guide told us about the buildings and people who once lived in them. Looking closely at the old brick buildings, you could see damage from cannon balls fired during the Battle of Yorktown. Our guide pointed to a building that still had two cannon balls embedded in the exterior. The one between the second story windows, has been there since the battle in 1781. The lower one is a replacement for the original that was stolen in the ’40s.
Our next stop was the first memorial to the Revolutionary War on U.S. soil, the Yorktown Victory Monument. Dedicated in 1881 for the centennial of the victory, the memorial is 95 feet tall. It is topped with the figure of Liberty. Thirty-nine stars represent the 39 states of the Union, and 13 female figures represent the original 13 states.
Heading back down the hill and to the waterfront, we watched a schooner sailing on the York River as we returned to the shop we started from.
With one experienced and three first-time Segway riders, we safely and easily toured historic Yorktown.