“Unicycling is great at breaking down social barriers, It’s a great way to meet people.”  Imagine yourself riding in the middle of nowhere on a weekend bikepacking trip, then all of a sudden you see Adam unicycling all on his lonesome. Tell me you wouldn’t stop and inquire about what he was up to…I thought so. Adam Gianforte graduated College from Cornell University and set his eyes on a big adventure, something as big as graduating from a top tear University like Cornell. He looked into riding the Appalachian Trail, but he soon realized that two wheels were not allowed on the trail, not even one. So he decided to bring his idea back west. He grew up in Montana backpacking and being in the outdoors, and once he heard about the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the rest was history. In my short conversation with Adam, my first impressions were that he was a selfless kind of guy, one that worries about big world problems and does something about it. Other than finishing college, another motivation behind the ride was to raise awareness of human trafficking. Before and during the ride he was raising money for the International Justice Mission. A foundation that fights slavery and forced labor all over the world. Adam has raised over $8,000 for International Justice Mission since he started his benefit on Crowdrise.com. His goal is to raise 10,000 before he moves onto his next charity.
(Photo: Thom Bridge)
While many people would rather do the 2,700 mile route on a bicycle, Andrew never considered using a bike. “I actually never considered doing it on a bike…I’ve been unicycling about 10 years. I find unicycling so much fun, it’s just a blast.” On the flip side, he mentioned that he has never been into biking, but says that if more people tried unicycling, a lot more people would do it. He averages that it takes about a week for someone to fully get a grasp on how to unicycle. Adam used a 29 inch Chris Holm Unicycle with a disk brake and handle bar so he could distribute his weight for the long haul. While it is a singlespeed, the unicycle has two holes in each one of the crank arms for his pedals. Adam will stop and move his pedal location depending on the upcoming terrain. “This adjustment gives me more leverage on the uphills.” The unicycle came with a Surly Knard 3.0, a tire that he wore down very thin but never had to replace. Because of this he said he ended up getting more flats in New Mexico towards the end of his ride. Adam carried all of his gear on his back, so he had to pack pretty light knowing that the weight on his back would add up over time. He packed a bivvy, sleeping bag, and cooked on campfires which replaced his stove. He also carried extra clothes, food and especially towards the end of his trip, a lot of water. Because of the slow speed of a unicycle, Adam had to carry about two gallons of water in sections where those resources were limited. Overall, the ride took Adam 79 days, starting on July 17th, and finishing on October 3rd. He averaged roughly 45 miles a day typically riding around 8 hours a day, giving him the chance to enjoy the best parts of the GDMBR, “making time to talk to people.” Adam mentioned that the unicycle made people more open to talk, it was “a great way to meet people. I had some deep and meaningful conversations with people because of the unicycle.” As many of you can imagine there are some good days, and some not so good days. Adam recalls his most trying day was going across the Great Basin in Wyoming, which happened to be his first 70 mile day. “I ran out of water, so the last 10 miles I had no water, and I had to ride about 3 hours in the dark because it took me so much longer than expected.” But maybe the most interesting parts of Adam’s ride was when he got sick. Adam contracted iardia, and managed to only take a couple of rest days before hopping back on the bike. The illness gave Adam diarrhea, and made him extremely fatigued. He was coming to grips that he indeed had giardia. It was fate that a random, clean, and dry roll of TP was waiting for him off the trail just outside of Salida. Most trying section: Great Basin, giardia. Favorite state: Montana Favorite town: Fernie, BC Favorite piece of gear: Solar charger, and Spot Tracker (for the parents) Now that Adam has finished his big trip, he looks to start up his acting career, a hobby of his in college. While he did not say no to another adventure in the future, he thinks he had plenty of adventure for the time being. Adam became the 8th person to ever start the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on a unicycle, and one of the few to ever finish it. Adam is certainly In a unique class of his own.

If you are interested in donating to International Justice Mission, head over to his website

4 Comments

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  3. It’s easy to live your life like this when you have rich parents.

    • That’s all can say about this?

      He’s aware of his privilege – he even mentioned it, if you’d bothered to listen. But more importantly he’s doing something with it. He’s out there living life and creating good will through adventure, poetry, and kind actions. The irony of your perspective is that If Adam were driving around in a BMW focussed on selfish pursuits you’d think nothing of it.

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