Tour groups with Scootin’ Kootenay Tours putter the grounds around Radius Retreat. Photos by Dauna Ditson

Segways scooting through the woods

Scootin’ Kootenay Tours operating in Radium Hot Springs

Patrick Tolchard may have run into a few obstacles getting his Scootin’ Kootenay Tours going, but on a sunny Wednesday morning his latest tour group navigated an obstacle course of their own before scooting off into the wilderness on Segways.

Mr. Tolchard, a serial entrepreneur who co-owns Valley Zipline Adventures, said some of the best business advice he’s received was to expect challenges.

“Nothing’s easy, right?” he said. “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

But his Segway adventure was especially difficult. The first hurdle was finding out he couldn’t operate the Segways at Valley Zipline Adventures because the land didn’t have the right zoning. Then there was a misunderstanding where he thought he had obtained permission to run tours on the Lake Windermere Whiteway. Then he got council’s consent to do a one-year trial run in the Village of Radium Hot Springs, but found it too hectic for guests to manage the sidewalks, dodge pedestrians and watch for traffic.

Undeterred, Mr. Tolchard tried again. The Segways had initially resided in his living room, but he wasn’t content to bring them home to rest. That’s when he landed at his ideal location: Radius Retreat, a 1,000 acre plot of land outside of Radium that was already zoned appropriately and ready for riders.

That was in mid August, and since then the tours have been going strong.

“It’s been like 100 times better,” Mr. Tolchard said.

“It’s nice to see (the Segways) doing what they’re there to do.”

Also nice is that “there are no more hoops” for Mr. Tolchard’s Segways to jump through, he said. Instead, the only obstacles left are at the start of the course where guests slalom around orange pylons as they learn to steer their Segways.

Guest Theresa Stainsby was excited to hear that Segway tours were available in the Valley. She had been on many similar tours while visiting Hawaii and raved about them to her family. Her son and daughter-in-law came with her to try Segways for themselves.

“They’ve heard me go on and on about this for years and years and years and could not relate,” she said.

That was rectified as soon as her son maneuvered through the slalom course.

“This is a lot of fun. I can see why you guys do this all the time,” he told her as he zoomed past on his way for another lap.

Ms. Stainsby is considering buying a Segway of her own. Unlike skiing and other activities that are hard on her knees, she said Segways offer a gentle yet adventurous way for her to get out exploring.

“It’s just fun,” she said. “You’re using your balance in order to propel your body forward in space.”

While satisfied customers joke that they’re never going to walk again, Mr. Tolchard said Segways benefit those who can’t walk great distances.

“It’s good for people with mobility issues because all you have to do is stand,” he said.

Tours run for an hour and a half, including a training session, and take guests out for a loop on a trail in the woods.

The Segways go up to 20 kilometres an hour. Scootin’ Kootenay Tours run rain, snow or shine and can be offered year round. Tours are $74 per person and are available by appointment only.

To reserve a spot or find out more, visit www.scootinkoots.com. For 10 per cent off, use the promotional code: bighorn.

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