By Matthew Beaudin
Sure. You’ve gone on a guided tour before, lagging behind, barely able to hear and continually trying to catch up with the group. Recently, a local gave historical jaunts a makeover: Dave’s Mountain Tours offers guided excursions on Segway Human Transporters.
If you’ve never heard of a Segway HT, don’t feel bad. The technology was revealed in late 2001 and not available to the average consumer until more recently. Sitting on two wheels that fall somewhere between motorcycle and scooter tires, a machine quietly powered by rechargeable batteries supports riders on a platform between its wheels and sports a handlebar atop a steering column. The overall effect looks something like a scooter on steroids.
Driving is said to be intuitive, and for the most part, it is. Lean forward, and the Segway roars-OK, maybe not roars-but zips forward. Lean back, and you move backward. To turn, simply twist the left wrist. Five gyroscopes and two motherboards inside the machine calculate balance and tilt an astounding 120 times every second. The result is a smooth ride atop a $5,000 scooter that delights all ages. The machines are so effective and easy to use that they have become popular transportation for some disabled people. “What I find is everybody wants to get on one of these,” says Dave Rote, owner and operator of Dave’s Mountain Tours.
But let’s not have the cool toys overshadow the meat of the two-hour tour, which is based upon the region’s mining days, brothels, innovations in electricity history and modern points of interest. Throughout the adventure, riders listen to Rote’s elocution via headphones in their helmets. Rote, formerly the director of the Telluride Historical Museum, says of his material, “I had access to every piece of history that was written on the area.”
For those unafraid of good old-fashioned exercise, other guide services offer historical walking tours, and the Telluride Historical Museum rents audio players for self-guided excursions.