“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Jan. 18, 2009, in the Boston Globe)
WHO: Bob McDermott, 63, his wife, Ginny, 59, and their son Chris, 17, of Sudbury, Mass.
WHEN: A week in August.
WHY: To take guided Segway tours.
CATCHING SEGWAY FEVER: Bob McDermott’s first time on one was in 2003, when his mother, now 93, requested a trip to the company’s headquarters in Bedford, N.H. “She said, `Before I die, there’s something I want to do.’ I thought it would be a trip to Paris or the Grand Canyon, but she said, `I want to buy a Segway.”‘ She did, and so did McDermott. She has since given her self-balancing, electric personal transporter to her son.
TREAT FOR THE FEET: Since 2004, Bob and Ginny have spent many hours touring Sudbury and neighboring towns by Segway. His fondness for the Segway is practical. “I’ve got really bad feet,” he said. “I can’t walk around much. With the Segway, it’s like walking, only faster. And you can go right up to things.”
OFF-ROAD RIDING: Bob McDermott located three tours in the San Francisco area alone. The first was around Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay, where they tooled around on all-terrain, fat- tire Segways. “I thought it was going to be a flat piece of land, but we started at a beach and then kept going up and up and up, with better and better views. The island has a history going back to the Civil War, and it was used as an immigration receiving area, where they’d quarantine people coming over from China and the Pacific.”
ADVANCED DEGREE: With Electric Tour Co., they went on an advanced- rider tour up and around Telegraph Hill and also down the famed hairpin-turn section of Lombard Street. “The Segway automatically slows to 2 miles an hour on a downhill,” McDermott noted. “At Lombard, there were cars of all sizes and bikers lined up for about a quarter mile to go down. When we came up, seven people on Segways, everyone was taking our photos and saying, `Look at those people.”‘ The trip with City Segway Tours, from dusk to dark, was quite different. “It was all flat, and we went through the financial district and down to the waterfront.”
GOING FLAT OUT: While the McDermotts enjoyed all their tours, their favorite was farther south, along Venice Beach and Santa Monica, with Segwow. “The guide put walkie-talkies on the handlebars so we could communicate without having to stop. He’d give commentary about the architecture and things. We were on this flat, smooth bike trail that went for miles, so we were able to go fast and see a lot of things.”