Segway tours make debut in Vail |

Segway tours make debut in Vail

Melanie Wongmwong@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyAvon resident Greg Kelly, left, learns how to operate a Segway from tour guide Ethan Smith, right, Tuesday in Vail Village

VAIL, Colorado – They cruise silently. They creep smoothly up Vail, Colorado’s steep grades. They’ll make crowds stop and stare. They’re Segways, the newest form of transportation to hit Vail. The two-wheeled, electric-powered machines have a sensored platform on which the driver stands. The Segways, which use gyroscopes to keep the machine upright and balanced, move forward when the driver leans forward and stops when the driver leans back. They turn tight corners and even roll over dirt and rocks with ease.Sage Outdoor Adventures, a rafting and touring company, is offering tours of Vail on the machines after getting the OK from the town, Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to try the new vehicles out in the villages.The tours start with a short tutorial of how to operate the Segways, then a tour that includes Ford Park, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the base of Vail Mountain, and both villages.”It’s just something new and different, and with off-road tires, it becomes a little more adventuresome,” said tour guide Sara Crowder. “For the people who come out, it’s a joy to let them see Vail in a different way.”

Taking a tour will also guarantee stares from onlookers, curious questions and whispers of “Look, it’s those Segway things!” Cruising through Vail Village, tour guide Ethan Smith was stopped several times by people who wanted to know how old you had to be to ride one (14 and at least and 100 pounds), whether they went up the mountain (yes), and whether it could go off steps (yes).”People have been completely excited about them – they all want to go buy their own,” said Crowder. “Some college kids wanted to get some to get around campus, and some people from Florida said they wanted one to ride around town.”Besides being fun and accessible, the Segways are also environmentally friendly and efficient, the guides pointed out.Russ Allen, of Houston, said he was pretty impressed at the contraption’s design, as well as the burly mountain tires. The Vail Segways are an off-road model that reach speeds of 12 mph and can go up grades of about 35 percent. “I had been on one in Texas a long time ago,” said Allen, who planned a full Segway tour with his son, Zachary, and two relatives. “They didn’t have sensors under the feet like these. Those were more like the ones mall cops used to have. The technology has certainly come a long way.”

It took Avon resident Greg Kelly, who took one of the Segways out for a demo spin, only a few minutes to be spinning around on Gore Creek Drive on his own.-“I’d like to take it off-road,” said Kelly, who took one of the Segways out for a demo spin. “Why does it have burly tires if you can’t do that, right?Zach Allen, 11, teetered slightly on the machine when he first stepped on, but soon caught on, learning how to lean forward to go, and push his weight back to stop. By the time he returned from a short tour of the village, he was zipping around like a pro.”It’s really addictive, and more fun than I thought,” said Zach after 15 minutes on the Segway. “Even at 8 mph it feels pretty fast, and it’s a lot smoother ride that you’d think.”

What: Guided Vail Segway toursWhere: Tours meet at Gorsuch Ltd. in Vail Village When: Tours depart at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and last 1.5 hours.How much: $49 per person (special this week only), or demos for $20More information: Call 970-476-3700 or see http://www.sageoutdooradventures.comStaff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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