Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More on the Segway and how it is affecting my life:

My son said last night, "Dad, are we going on another Segway and bike ride today? That was one of the FUNNEST THINGS we have ever done !!"

That coming from a materialistic little boy who last Christmas was not very excited at all about the $800 or so in giftage that his mom and I bought him.
Funny, but remember when they said "the best things in life are free" and you laughed about it? It's semi-true in some cases. The Segway itself was definitely NOT FREE, but some of the FUN it is giving us afterward is 'somewhat' free. So that's maybe a wash.

Regardless, the Segway so far has been almost a completely positive experience, and I would recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone who might think they have a good use for it. For short trips near your home, why use a 3000 pound car to carry your 150 pound body? By the way: The Segway gets about 450 miles to the gallon, converting gas cost to the electricity cost for charging it. Sorta nice, eh?
So I made it to work with the broken handlebar. Right forearm muscle was almost cramping due to holding the bezel in place, but I made it.

After getting settled into work, I took some large 14" cable ties and a hose clamp over to the Segway and secured the bezel to the handlebar, making it pretty tight. It seems to be very solid, at least as solid as a broken Segway handlebar CAN be made to be.

I contacted the dealer with my sob story and he said the replacement handlebar is $380. OUCH !! He also said he would sell me a "handlebar guard" at his cost, $145 plus tax. So the total damage for my little crash will be $567.00 after tax. Expensive little mistake/accident/incident, huh? Yeah, duh.
So there I was, still a couple of miles from work, with a broken Segway handlebar, Segway covered in mud, the tires with about an inch of mud caked between them and the fenders, and 40 degrees outside. Segway in an unknown state, possibly unrideable.

Quite a pickle indeed.

Here's where my training as a Marine and a Dad came into play. I calmed myself and realized that the electronics inside the broken handlebar APPEARED to be intact. I realized that the front bezel was intact and was one SOLID piece that fit across the handlebar. With a little imagination, I put the handlebar back together at it's jagged edge and when I held the bezel on front, it LOOKED like it would be stable enough to hold things together if I could keep it that way while in motion.

Got my Segway keys out and tried to start the Segway. Nothing happened. DEAD? I tried again, being more careful to make the key contact all the connectors in the keypad. IT STARTED !! I had my first semi-positive sigh of relief since the crash. By holding the middle of the handlebar with my right hand around the bezel, pulling it toward the handlebar, I could keep the handlebar in place and ride the Segway !!

I started again.
Segway Blog continued

OK, here is the UNCOOL part:

On my first commute, I was in an area with no sidewalk and no real bike lane, so I was up on some rough gravel beside the road, just cruising along. We had just had some rains the weekend before (this was Monday 3-13-2006) and the ground under the gravel was a little muddy. No problem, because the gravel was giving the Segway enough traction to operate normally. Or so I thought.

I approached this area where the gravel thinned out and I did not really notice it until the Segway started to slip and by then it was TOO late. I tried to lean back and slow the speed, but the tires slipped and OFF I FLEW. I actually had slowed down to about 5 to 8 mph at the time, so I merely took a step left and off the Segway platform, while the Segway itself crashed to the ground HANDLEBAR first into the mud.

When I looked over at the Segway after I had recovered myself, I saw the plastic handlebar bezel FLY off and land about 10 feet in front of the Segway. First indication of bad news. When I looked back at the Segway itself, it was doing the "flashing beeping emergency shutdown" routine and I noticed a detail with HORROR: The handlebar had BROKEN almost directly in the middle. I almost crapped my pants. I had just bought this thing three days before, and I already broke a major part. I was incredulous, disbelieving, surprised, and SHOCKED.
OK Ladies and Gents: I bought myself a

Segway HT i-180 Human Transporter

It's really, REALLY cool. ( Expensive and probably not worth it if you are MERELY judging it on the finances involved. But how can you put a price on COOLNESS? )

I'm going to use it for "partial commuting" from my kids' school to my work. Their school is 3.8 miles from my work, so the plan is to leave my car parked there at their school every day and take the Segway from there to work and then back in the afternoons.

This will only work for about 5 months out of the year when the weather here in Phoenix is not smoking hot and too hot to ride a Segway in the afternoons.

Another way I'm going to use it is to go on "bike rides" with my kids. They are 7 and 9 yrs old, and they love to ride their bikes. Up to now, I only really could let them ride in the cul-de-sac outside our garage door and maybe a little over on the sidewalks by our minuscule park. But now, we are SET FREE because I can go on the Segway while they are riding and we can go wherever we want to go.

The Segway has given me more quality time with my kids and more "outside fun" rather than always watching Cartoon Network or playing Nintendo games. How cool is that?