Head to most forests and fun involving wheels usually extends to cycle hire. Which means paying for the privilege of a sore bum, a grazed knee and a puncture.
But head to Thetford Forest in Norfolk and there’s a much more exciting two-wheeled machine to hire: the Segway.
I must admit I’ve never quite got the idea of a Segway. It’s one of those products that is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. But it arrived in 2001 to much fanfare; the ever-reliable Wikipedia says excitement was so great, the late Steve Jobs said the Segway was “as big a deal as the PC”. How’d that one work out?
In the 11 years the Segway has been around, I’ve only ever seen them used in two situations before: by journalists riding them at the vast Frankfurt motor show to cover the ground between the show halls, and by police in San Francisco.
Those were the more conventional road-biased model (not that you can use them on a road or a pavement…), but the off-road version with chunkier tyres is the Segway on offer to ride around Norfolk’s very own Green Hell.
To begin with, I was quite apprehensive about getting on the Segway. The fear was that it would overbalance or I’d react to it initially pulling forward by instantly pulling back, thus making a fool of myself.