By Kelly Hines
I am terrified by all sorts of random things. Mice. The inside of the garbage disposal. Segways.
So when an opportunity arose for the TMoM team to take a Segway tour of Winston-Salem with Triad ECO Adventures, I didn’t exactly jump at the chance. “I’m terrified!” I said. Plus, I’ve lived in Winston-Salem most of my life, what could I possibly learn that I don’t already know? After some gentle arm twisting (and assurance from Google that the likelihood of being eaten alive by a Segway is very, very slim), I agreed to go on the tour.
A few of my fellow team members (Katie, Rachel, and Sloan) and I arrived at Triad ECO Adventures headquarters, right across the parking lot from the Gateway YWCA. The location is perfect; situated on the edge of Old Salem, with easy access to the Salem Lake greenway and downtown Winston-Salem. The space has a definite outdoorsy feel, with Segways and SUP (stand-up paddleboard) boards lining the room.
We were greeted by our enthusiastic and lovely guide, Deanna. She walked us through helmet selection, a brief safety waiver, and a customized video shown on a giant TV. Our hands-on training began inside. Rachel went first, and was confidently zipping around before I could even get my helmet buckled. Sloan hopped on hers and followed suit. Katie and I got on and with a few more instructions from Deanna managed to move forward with some degree of confidence. We moved outside and were joined for the training by Triad ECO Tours owner/operator Hal, who offered fine tuning instruction and encouragement as we glided around the parking lot and up and down ramps (a skill which comes in handy for navigating hills!).
Within ten minutes or so, I was beginning to feel like I might make it through the tour without major embarrassment. Moving forward is fairly intuitive, just a slight lean forward. Turning is achieved by guiding the steering stick left or right. Moving backwards is not a good idea. Operating a Segway is easy enough that even teenagers (over 14, and between 100 and 260 pounds) can do it.
Triad ECO Tours offers a choice of two guided Segway tours. Both originate in Old Salem, with one focusing on Downtown Winston-Salem and the other on Historic Washington Park and UNCSA. Additionally, they offer combination Segway/SUP paddleboard tours, customized tours, even birthday parties! We chose the Washington Park/UNCSA tour and, with Deanna in the lead, headed off towards Old Salem. Pedestrians, drivers, groups of school children, they all smiled and waved as we went by. “That looks so cool!” I heard a kid exclaim. I’ll admit, it was pretty cool.
“I’m afraid I’m going to fall off,” I said to Deanna. Somehow, I had gotten in front of the other ladies. “I shouldn’t be up here.” I could just see myself tumbling from my Segway, down the embankment and into Salem Creek. Deanna spoke confidently through my earpiece (we each wore one to better hear the tour). “Don’t worry,” she said, “It is very, very rare that someone falls off.”
It took me approximately 30 seconds to prove her wrong.
We hit our first small hill and while everyone else remembered their instructions and leaned forward to get up the hill, I pushed forward with my hands and leaned back. I felt my Segway start to roll backward and heard the rest of the team behind me start to exclaim, “WHOA WHOA WHOA!”. I think Rachel said some four letter words (or maybe it was me, I’m not sure). But here’s the thing: instead of tumbling my way down the hill, I just stepped off the Segway. Deanna was there in an instant, reassuring me and helping my get back on the proverbial horse.
“I just did that so everyone else wouldn’t be worried about doing it themselves,” I said. Everyone looked very convinced. With the worst thing that could possibly happen turning out to be not so bad after all, I spent the rest of the tour less worried and more confident. Deanna proved to be not only an ace Segway wrangler, but an adept guide as well. Washington Park is positively stunning in the spring, and the early 20th century architecture and sweeping vistas of downtown made for an impressive backdrop. Historic facts, city legends, and little known trivia was all delivered by Deanna, who clearly has a genuine passion for what she does.
It turns out I know less about my beloved city than I thought! By the time we arrived back at Triad ECO Adventures two hours later (we stopped halfway through for a coffee and a stretch!), I was ready to sign up for the downtown tour. Either tour would be perfect for showing off Winston-Salem to out of town guests, a girls afternoon out, date night, team building, or even as an opportunity to get to know the city a little better. The folks at Triad ECO Adventures are incredibly willing to come up with individualized, world class Segway and SUP paddleboard experiences, customized to your needs.
If you want to find out more or to schedule your own adventure, you can visit their webpage at www.triadECOadventures.com, email admin@triadECOadventures.com, or call (336)722-7777. In addition to tours, Triad ECO Adventures also sells and services Segways, SUP paddleboards, eco-friendly electric skateboards, and electric bicycles. Triad ECO Adventures is located at 176 YWCA Way in Winston-Salem (adjacent to the Gateway YWCA), but they will take equipment to your location for a customized experience. You’re in for an awesome ride!
Sponsored by Triad ECO Adventures