Day 48: Ride A Segway...Posted on the 29 June 2011 by Ellacoquine
The training session took longer than the guide had expected because Pierre, whose patience was running thin with me within matters of minutes didn't feel that I was comfortable operating the equipment. He was right. A segway is like a uni-cycle where your body weight and balance determine the speed and direction. So no, I wasn't going to master this in a 30 second training 'session' in a parking lot with no presented obstacles like tourists, tree branches, pebbles and large bodies of water that you can easily segway into.
Once he felt that I was decent enough to hit the road or rather the training session exceeded the 15euros for 15 minutes, we had no choice but to take off onto the tour with or without my segwaying skills in tact. To err on the side of caution, Pierre issued me a tightly strapped in helmet and tour guide Jean-François to shadow me on the tour in the event of an accident. I'm not sure what exactly he could have done on his segway to save me but scream directions at me in French but I was glad we would be cruising the gardens together because J-F was just gorgeous. He had that Parisien post card kind look that would make any girl want to move to Paris. Jean-François was what dreams were made of. Maybe it was his fitted navy and creme stripped top and marine blue capri pants that he was wearing that was doing it for me but he was just asking for someone to stuff a little baguette under his arm.
After about 10 minutes on the tour I began to feel comfortable with my segway and started flirting with J-F. After learning that he was all of 19 years old and just graduated high school, I got tired of being in the back of the group and started to speed up to cruise along with everyone else. The day was just beautiful, I was enjoying feeling the cool air mixed with the warm summer sun on my face while watching the clouds roll over the chateau. I was having a peaceful moment reflecting on the beauty that surrounds me here in France. I started speeding up more than I had planned on and tried to control it by sitting back on my heels and straightening my arms like Pierre had taught me but it wasn't working and started really speeding up and couldn't stop. All of sudden my handle bars were close to my chest and my segway had stiffen up as my speed was escalating, going close to 20 miles an hour while screaming at the top of my lungs that I could not stop. Suddenly, the lake in the middle of the Chateau came into vision and I was heading straight for it.
I was terrified and I whizzed past Pierre and in a flash saw the faces of all of my coworkers one by one as the pond was becoming a part of my soon to be reality. Suddenly, Pierre was next to me and J-F behind me and they are screaming for me to bend my knees in order to stop but it wasn't working. A pack of cyclists were about to turn the bend and my options were to either fly into the pond or in the bikers on the Fat Bike Tour. Pierre had gotten way ahead of me and jumped off his segway and stood in front of me in a ninja stance to stop the machine. I smashed right into him and we both went flying. Luckily, not into the pond or into the cyclists but into a nearby grassy knoll. Suddenly, I looked up to see all of my co-workers giving me what I call 'the mail room look', its the disapproving look I get when I send something to the wrong office or if letters get returned to sender. If they didn't think I was ridiculous before, they sure did now.
After my near death experience, I decided to go back to segwaying with J-F at the end of the group going 5 miles per hour and enjoying the scenery in slow motion. As we were approaching the segway hut, where we had started, I was happy to get off, never to venture on one of these again and Pierre told me that I was his first client to lose control and almost go rolling into the lake. I find that extremely hard to believe.
I have seen these rolling death traps in Manhattan and in the actual city of Paris and after this experience, have a new respect for tourists who take their lives into their hands in order to sight-see with a rolling contraption under their feet. Different strokes for different folks...
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