7 April 2003


How many times have you found yourself in a low battery situation, desperately trying to conserve that last little feeble trickle?

On the other hand, have you ever tried to run down a battery? They cling to life like Lillian Hellman’s turtle. (See Pentimento.)

I took the damn thing out and rode all over the top of this hill, seeking the steepest upgrades at maximum speed and deliberately going very slowly on the downgrades so as not to accidentally commit any regeneration. I must have gone a full mile and still the indicator showed a full charge.

But then, figuring that I must have expended enough energy for my testing purposes, I went for it: Down Noe to Bell Market.

As is almost always the case, there was some ambiguity. No, it did not slow me to a virtual stop as before, but the governor did, to some degree, still hold me back more than I liked. And no, I have not become a speed-crazed maniac because I must admit that there were also a few occasions when my own terror reaction kicked in before the governor did.

So I feel somewhat better about this issue even though nagging doubt remains. At Bell, though, I picked up a really fine nagging doubt remedy, one of their excellent fried chicken breasts, a great bargain at $1.59 and one that can be rushed home in a separate bag for consumption while still hot. Separate from what? Well, from the half gallon of Kern’s divine Peach Nectar out of the refrigerator case, a recent discovery that doesn’t have quite as many calories as, say, a chocolate milk shake.

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I just talked to Segway customer support. That problem with the over-eager governor? In a word, regenerative braking (OK, two words.)

According to company instructions, I keep the thing plugged in at all times because the manual says it’s good for the battery.

But I live at the top of the hill. And if the battery is fully charged and the regenerative braking tries to kick in, the stupid little thing doesn’t have the sense to just spew that generated electricity out into the ether. Ummmm, or better yet, turn it into a force field around me. So since there’s no place for the electricity to go, the Segway solution is to slow down forward movement so that no electricity is generated. Since I must go uphill to return home, the battery is being depleted, so of course I can go as fast as I want. Well, up to 12 MPH, which frankly seems much faster when you’re perched on a little platform eight inches off the ground instead of sitting inside a Hummer.

It is so strange to me that such a high-tech vehicle employs such a crude solution to a problem that would be experienced by every user who lives at the top of a hill. And let’s face it, folks who buy 5K toys tend to live at the tops of things. This is actually a real flaw rather than the minor inconvenience caused by their location of the charge indicator light immediately below the cord input. So all you have to do to make sure that you’ve got it plugged in properly and it’s charging is get down on your hands and knees and bring one of your eyes to a position about 5″ off the floor to get a look at the light. It winks at ya.

Now I’m going out to ride around some to run the battery down a bit and then try to zip down a hill at breakneck speed.

Tell Becky I loved her.

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