The Washington Post

First Person Singular: Tyler McGee, 30, Oxon Hill, tour guide, Capital Segways


Tyler McGee is a tour guide with Capital Segways. (Matt McClain/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

When I first got on a Segway, I was nervous because, you know, it feels so much like magic. It is ground-breaking technology, but to be honest, within a matter of minutes, I felt like I could own that Segway. That’s the trick with Segways, and that’s the case with most people. In a matter of 10 to 15 minutes, you can see someone go from being petrified to being overly confident, and that is what happened to me.

It was my second day of job training and my third time riding a Segway. I felt like I had the thing down, so I was going as fast as you could go. At that point, I had not experienced the internal speed limiter on the Segway, which brings the frame of the Segway back to you once it gets up to its top speed. Basically, it is a machine keeping itself under 12.5 miles per hour, but it feels like the Segway is throwing you off. I had not felt it yet, so when it came up, I thought it was trying to throw me off. I freaked out and jumped off. I crashed and burned in front of the group of people training me. I was really embarrassed, but afterward, it turned out to be a great learning experience. I really got to see the process of what it’s like to become a Segway rider. How you can be very nervous and then become very confident and then overconfident. As a tour guide, I keep an eye out for those people who jump-start the learning curve.

“I’ve learned that you have to maintain [equilibrium] in the face of opposition,” McGee says. (Matt McClain/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Overall, the Segway is a great technology — pivots from the bottom and steers like a joystick — and Segway tours are becoming the “in” thing for tourists. They cover so much ground in such a short amount of time. We have a general route that we keep, but our ultimate goal is always safety. I am not concerned about the Segway as a machine. I could care less about the machine. I am only concerned about the people on the machine and the people around the machine. I find that if I take things nice and slow, I never run into problems.

I was leading a tour when the earthquake struck D.C. last year. It was a six-person tour, but nobody felt the earthquake because Segways are designed to keep you balanced and level. Nobody felt it, but we saw all the cars around us shaking vigorously all at the same time. I’ve learned that you have to maintain [equilibrium] in the face of opposition. Ironically, Segways have taught me that.

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