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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on February 15th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 12, Issue 49

Spotlight on: Adventures Out West Segway Tours of Solvang

Bob McCarthy & Chris Cyr, partners

BY PAMELA WOOD

Close your eyes and imagine yourself on a self-balancing, electric, emission-free personal transportation device with two wheels and intuitive sensors that respond to subtle shifts of your body weight. You might be picturing yourself in some future world, or maybe on another planet.

Now open your eyes and look around at the sights and scenes of Solvang.


Balancing act:
Bob McCarthy of Adventures Out West Segway Tours of Solvang showed off his balancing skills at Hans Christian Andersen Park.
PHOTO BY PAMELLA WOOD

Adventures Out West has been offering tours on such fabled vehicles—Segways—through the streets of Solvang since November 2011. Tours vary in length from 1 1/2 to two hours and include a helmet, a skilled guide, and training in the “cone zone.” The adventure is for people ages 14 and older, and all that’s needed to participate is appropriate footwear, good balance, a spry step, and a desire for fun.

“All ages can enjoy our Segway tours. We had a 72-year-old grandmother accompany her family on a tour, and she was very cautious and fearful at first, but quickly got the hang of it and had the time of her life,” said Bob McCarthy, one of the partners in the company. “It is also an excellent activity to share when you have out-of-town guests that you need to entertain and who want to experience something a little different on their visit.

“Our cone zone training area is where riders get a chance to get used to the balancing and steering of the Segway. All you have to do is lean slightly forward to propel the machine forward, and lean slightly backwards to stop it. To turn in either direction, you gently bend your knee on the side you want to steer towards, kind of like skiing. We stay in the cone zone until everyone is comfortable with their Segway and until I am comfortable with everyone’s ability as well,” McCarthy explained.

The tour begins in one of the quieter residential neighborhoods, allowing everyone to get comfortable and to experiment a little with starts, stops, speeds, and more. Then the groups venture out onto the streets in the downtown area, past charming shops, bakeries, restaurants, and candy stores, attracting smiles and waves from strolling.

Solvang is kept spotlessly clean, so riding through its residential and commercial neighborhoods is a pleasure. The tour also takes riders down Alisal Road, past the verdant golf course, then alongside the majestic pine trees that line the Santa Ynez River. The wind in one’s face as the Segway reaches speeds of up to 12 miles per hour, combined with the smell of the fresh pine trees, makes for an exhilarating and memorable adventure.

The Segways themselves cost about $6,500 each, and McCarthy and his partner, Chris Cyr, currently own five of the devices, which can handle a group of four plus a leader. If all goes well, they’ll purchase more Segways and take out larger or multiple groups. Adventures Out West has other plans for expansion in the Solvang area, too.

 “We are talking to the owners of the Zaca Ranch in Foxen Canyon about eventually creating zip line tours, which offer another opportunity for sight seeing and adventure all in one,” McCarthy said.

 Adventures Out West currently has offices in Arizona and Colorado, which offer hot air balloon adventures, jeep tours, white river rafting, horseback riding, and more. So stay tuned; more outdoor adventures could be coming to Solvang.

The Adventures Out West Segway Tours’ office is in Atterdag Square in Solvang, at 453 Atterdag Road. Tours cost $85 per person and can be
arranged by calling 688-8899.

Highlights

The Treasure Hunters Roadshow is returning to the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria Feb. 23 to 25, allowing locals the opportunity to meet one-on-one with specialists in rare and unusual collectibles.

During the free event, the THR specialists will be looking to make offers on items such as coins and paper currency issued prior to 1970, toys, dolls, trains, vintage jewelry, old and modern musical instruments, war memorabilia, gold and silver jewelry, advertising memorabilia, swords, and the unusual. If the price is right, THR will buy the item right on the spot.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 23 and 24, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 25. The Radisson Hotel is at 3455 Skyway Dr. next to the Santa Maria Airport.

For more information, visit treasurehuntersroad show.com.

Biz Spotlight is written by Intern Pamella Wood. Highlights are written and compiled by Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.