“People experience Raleigh in a different way.”
–Baxter Knight, Segway tour guide, Triangle Glides
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Christer Berg
Recently retired Mimi Raub spends most of her days soaking up fresh air, meeting new people, and “cruising around” downtown Raleigh – on a Segway. Raub is one of four staffers at locally owned Triangle Glides, which runs daily tours of the city on the two-wheeled automatic scooters. “It’s so much fun,” she says.
Raub has been leading tours for about five years. She began when still working full-time as a psychotherapist, and her colleagues also hold day jobs: at the N.C. Department of Agriculture, in the N.C. General Assembly, and as a Ph.D. student at N.C. State. What they have in common is a love of history, people, and the city; they all say the Segways are a happy means to an end. “This is a blend of my experiences and interests,” says N.C. Department of Agriculture employee Evan Davis. “In my opinion, it’s much better than other ‘normal’ second job options.”
Both Davis and Knight are North Carolina natives who enjoy the chance to “share the state’s history and culture,” Davis says. Some tours stick to downtown’s city center or Historic Oakwood, others cover broader territory. Triangle Glides also offers a “Raleigh’s darkest secrets” tour focused on some of the city’s lesser-known spooky historical scandals and events. The trips last one to two hours, and range in size from a small handful of participants to about a dozen.
“There’s not an average guest,” Knight says, “but there are archetypes.” These include folks in town for business or a conference, leisure travelers, and Triangle locals. Each guide leads differently, because the basic script allows for personal flair. “You add your own information to make it reflect your personality and your knowledge,” Davis says.
Davis once led a group of 70th birthday party revelers; Raub once led a bachelorette party. Repeat local customers are not uncommon. After all, the novelty of the transportation doesn’t wear off. “It’s kind of cool to take a Segway around downtown,” Knight says. “You can never forget that fact of the matter.”