Unipacking Goshen Pass in Lexington, Virginia

Hey again everyone. I just recently finished talking about my trip from Vermont to New Hampshire but wanted to also share my first uni-pack trip earlier in the year. In April of over a 2 day period from Saturday to Sunday, I rode about 50 miles (80.5 km) on 29 road unicycle.

I wanted to share this with people for a few reasons. One, it’s just fun to talk with others about unicycling, and two because I feel like it can help to dispel the notion that you need to spend four figures on a unicycle before even proceeding to get the materials needed to carry a bunch of stuff nor do you need to have some major, week long ride planned out. Some people have lives they need to tend to and can’t always set aside 5 days, a week, a month, etc to do these rides and so I wanted to throw in some ideas for anyone on a budget, with limited time, or doesn’t yet own or feel comfortable on a larger unicycle.

This will likely be less involved as my last post as I took fewer photos in favor of video but I’ll share what I do have.

I’ll start with my gear, a lot will be similar to my first post with some location shifts.

I rode an ungeared, 29" Nimbus Road Unicycle (the cheapest 29 UDC sells that is also compatible with a disc brake). I bought this back in June of 2019 for a GranFundo in New Brunswick where I first experimented with a cheaper alternative to handlebars (bullhorn PVC pipes wrapped in handlebar tape, a water bottle cage hose clamped on, and slid onto the seatpost with a 1’’ PVC T-Junction which was held in place with duct tape). It goes without saying that this and all future PVC attempts were duds. Here’s one example.

This leads into my next point though.

For handlebars I used pieces I found in old bins from my local bike store. I highly recommend finding a store/co-op near you and asking if they have old parts you can sift through.

This is what I cobbled together. I have no clue what these pieces are called but if you do, more power to you. Essentially one piece to attach to the seat post, another piece that can slide into or over that piece (which I metal screwed together and then taped over), a double female stem at the end of that, a flat handlebar and a pair of clamp on aero bars from 1850 help make this all look that much more ridiculous. I’m obviously not saying you need this exact set-up but it is an idea. The good part about the unicycle I used it that the frame is 28.6 mm and not the 31.8mm? the larger frame of the Oracle series. This came in huge for my rear set up.

My rear luggage set-up involved the use of a 1/2 of a tandem stoker stem, the part that fits around the seatpost or in my case the frame, and then an old seatpost that I inserted into the female end and was able to tighten. Worked wonders but I recognize I was lucky to find this part. Especially because these pieces can run between $40-$100 dollars new. You can see where I attached in the above pictures I just realized. It required me to remove the seatpost clamp and all the accoutrements but can just hang out there whether you use it or not and thus doesn’t require constant surgery to take off all the time.

To those components I attached a rear saddle bag to the front. It clipped around the handlebars and strapped around the seatpost. It rubbed against my legs so I did what I could to cinch it in. Nothing really worked, likely the result of nothing being designed to be used as I used it. On top of the handlebars was a tube bag. This attached to the double female part of my handlebars and the straight piece attached to the unicycle.

At the back I attached a fifth? prototype bag I had been sewing and testing before quarantine started the prior Autumn and Winter. Another example can be seen on my PVC set up higher up. It was made of an outdoor canvas, nylon straps, and plastic buckles with a VERY poorly designed rolltop closure. It had actually already started to rip while I was walking it all to the start. If this trip was longer, if it rained, if I hit a bump it all could have been a very different experience. Since none of that happened just assume I used non-failing gear (since I assume you will be). My tiny saddle bag was haphazardly clipped where ever it would fit. Below you can see a picture of the setup with my glowing excitement somewhere around mile 35 (km 56).

Gear I Brought:

Top Tube Bag
-Spare tube
-portable battery
-charging cables

Saddle Bag
-wool riding socks
-rain coat
-wool goobalini
-long sleeve shirt (used mainly to cinch saddle bag)
-running shorts
-tent poles
-a 2nd spare tube that didn’t fit my unicycle that was gifted to me through a wildly bizarre experience near a swine farm I had
-a mini bike pump

Mini Saddle Bag
-pedal wrench
-allen key set of 4
-patch kit
-needle and thread

Rear Bag
-sleeping pad
-sleeping bag liner
-wet wipes
-tent stakes? I can’t remember if I brought these actually
-toiletries kit (toothbrush, paste, athletic tape, prewrap, super glue, bandages, antiseptic)

Fanny Pack
-2 days food (meat sticks, honey jar 1 oz, fish package, cold soaking quinoa in a talenti jar, museli, almond butter individual packages, instant coffee). Stock standard materials in my kit hiking or biking or whatever.
-water filter and 2 liter bladder
-water bottles (one 1/2 litre and one 3/4 litre)

On person
-cycle jersey
-cycle shorts
-helment and hat
-hair tie
-phone in my pocket or attached to the handlebars
-go-pro type camera
-riding socks of choice
-5/10 impact boots

Bear country is a definite reality in most of Virginia and likely most elsewhere outside of major cities. I didn’t bring spray or a bell or a canister due to a limit in space, lack of owning the object, and a bit of arrogance. I’ve run into about a dozen black bears now with and without cubs and they’ve always just run away. I’ve never pursued them, but I have accidentally snuck up on them from around a blind corner which had only been on backcountry trails, not tarmac. I figured that with 100% of my ride on roads and one night camping in a hunting ground the risk of running into one was far lower than my backpacking trips. That being said, if you do this ride plan whatever would make you feel the most comfortable. I also followed basic protocol of hanging my food and toothpaste away from my camp at the appropriate heights and distances from the base of the tree.

The Route:
The best part about this route is it’s location to those in the DMV area as well as those in West Virginia (the State not the geographic region of Virginia. That being said, it’s proximity to western Virginia is also really clutch). It starts and end in Lexington, VA. A fairly happening spot with a few Universities and plenty of places to eat, drink, and shop. Fun fact, the movie theatre here was the last one I attended in November of 2019 before things got real sketchy in the world. I slept through the entirety of Doctor Sleep (I’m not kidding) and then left to sleep in some horribly frigid temperatures at the park for the night). Just as a note, Lexington and the small town of Goshen are the only real places to resupply if needed. Goshen is little more than a gas station and maybe a pizza place. I’m not sure if the place was permanently closed and the sign was a forgotten relic of a long past time. The gas station does have really good muffins and even local seasonal produce was for sale from farmers in the area. Top notch backwater gas station, top marks from me.

It starts are Jordan’s Point Park near the Military Academy, a location I found has been great for overnight and multiday parking.

Here’s the best description of it.

As I said it covers about 50 miles (80.5 km) of pastureland, the Maury River, The Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains, modest elevation changes, a trip through George Washington National Forest, an excellent gas station, and some A-1 views. Camping is a bit limited before making it to and getting out of the town of Goshen and would likely involve questionably legal cowboy camping in potentially private property that intertwines with the National Forest. Reaching these hunting ground campsites would front load your first day, which some may prefer for a shorter, easier going day 2 (which for me also included the drive home so I was grateful for not having to do that after a long ride). Just be prepared for that.

I’ll share some more beat by beat details of the ride in the following post with a few more pictures as well. Until then, happy riding.


Saturday April 4

I sat around and drank more coffee than I intended to and shot the breeze with my room mate (who was born and raised in the area I was headed). The drive was about 2 and 1/2 hours from where I lived at the time and left for a 1 pm arrival in April. This, to my knowledge, would afford about 6-7 hours of daylight to ride. Had I known more about where I was going and what I would see, I would have left earlier and goofed around in the Maury River on the first day. But alas, my big brain thought it more pertinent to stop riding at sunset where I could just fall asleep and go into day 2.

I arrived in Jordan’s Point Park, left a note on the car asking the police not to tow me (I didn’t get towed and I’m not sure I would have been anyway, but always a good precaution), and loaded up the unicycle. I should also mention this was maybe three weeks into the quarantine order and while I don’t doubt that COVID is real, Virginia was quite slow to really enforce any sort of legislation comparatively. That being said, Lexington was a ghost town the day I left. I remember going to buy Chamois butter for the ride and having to make the transaction through the mail slot of the bike store because the man didn’t want to interact with me. Understandable but kind of an eerie feeling. I wasn’t reckless, however. Wear your masks people!

The house across the way is where I started the ride. The park exits up a hill and into a 4 lane road that is typically heavily trafficked. Walking across the bridge of the River and starting the ride on the side road where it was headed anyway was much safer. I was also not very comfortable on a 29", ironic to say now since it’s like a 20" compared to the 36.

The start of the ride was relatively flat along the Maury River with a few punctuated climbs in the bright sun of woody residential areas. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s (75 F = ~24 C) and there were zero clouds.

Around 5 miles (8 km) in came the flatter pastures at the base of the mountains

It was on this rode when I had my bizarre experience with a family of swine herders. While riding past their pastures, an older gentleman began yelling unintelligible things at me and waving me down which caused me to stop in the event something was terribly wrong with the unicycle that I couldn’t see (like when you have a taillight out in your car and someone beeps obnoxiously at you in order to tell you).
He was intrigued at what I was doing and curious where I had started and who I was traveling with. I told him I was alone which, looking back on it, could have been a mistake if he had a propensity for murdering people. He asked me if I had a need for any spare tubes to which I said, politely, that I did not and had no room for them anyway. He ignored my answer and insisted I check inside his blazer to see what he had. I obliged despite being certain he was talking about his fancy blazer jacket and he was going to flash me his wares like a back alley hustler. It turned out he meant his Chevy Trailblazer in which he had a bag of 7 26" bike presta bike tubes I had no use for or any means of blowing up. He couldn’t read the fine print on the boxes and tubes, he had to be pushing upper 80’s, and so I was tasked with reading all the boxes he handed to me and having to tell him that I didn’t think it would work. He insisted again that I take one with me to which I felt too bad saying no. He introduced me to his wife, who was about the same age and was wearing a pink muumuu and a Hannah Montana hat. We exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. Truly a bizarre time where, in a pandemic no less, random strangers were willing to invite me over and open the blazer to a passing unicyclist even if it meant having to carry a completely useless piece of gear. Another fun story for the books.

Back to the mountains…

I don’t believe any of these need to be rode up but this is the path that leads to the ride’s hardest climb (if you go clockwise like I did), Little North Mountain. With a height of land elevation of 1,673 ft (510 m) and about a 7% grade for about a mile (1,609 m) with a hairpin turn this part was sneakily tough. The uphill is progressive to start and by the time I had to do some serious climbing I was already anaerobic. No good. I admittedly walked up this pass over Little North Mountain.

It should also be mentioned that I carried my sleeping bag on my fanny pack, I forgot to mention that last time. You can also see the spare tube strapped to the top of the front bag.

I took a siesta at the top of the pass under a highway bridge before pressing on to the George Washington National Forest
GW foret

This is a picture from the fall, but essentially you can get the idea. Picture it being much greener with fewer dead leaves. This eventually leads to a turn that leads to Goshen proper and is, probably, the more boring part of the ride. It was about 7-8 miles (11-13 km) of private property, some trailer homes, and the edges of the National Forest. Mountains could be seen in the distance later on down the road but for the most part it was uneventful. Goshen proper starts at the lumber yard where you can turn right to head back to Lexington and ride down Goshen Pass or head left to The Gas Station.

I picked up the essentials at the G Station and moved on.

Riding out of Goshen was a real treat. There were a few people on their porches watching me unicycling fully loaded with a sixer in one hand a camera in the other and they couldn’t get enough. A lot of laughs and cheers and very thick southern accents. If you notice two cans fell out of the ring, they were in my jersey pocket with a muffin in my shorts pocket.

Up the road, completely unknown to me at the time, was one of a few hunting grounds. I stayed at Guys Run Road Hunting Ground where camping is allowed for up to 3 weeks at a time. There were also a shocking amount of boxed natural springs along the cliff faces where I could stop and refill water. I still filtered it but I’m fairly certain these were all natural springs that were safe to drink. Don’t take my word for it though.

Recreation in this part of Virginia is rampant. Fishing, riding, running, hiking to mountains, kayaking, rock climbing. All with a very secluded feel and great for distancing.

The following morning I woke up and continued on. I was met by the Maury River through Goshen Pass Proper lucky to be headed down and not up. The elevation is about 1,350 ft (411 m) and it’s full of really stunning views of the gorge the river runs through, overhanging rock formations, and mountains in the back drop.

This part is easily the highlight of the ride, no questions about it for me. After riding the descent it was onward to pastures and more mountain backdrops, I don’t believe I have any pictures at this point but it was very similar to my other picture of flat pasture at the base of mountains. There were a few ways back to the park where I started and I ended up taking a gravel road back that let me out on the same road I started the day before on. It was short work back to the park entrance where I sat for a bit and proceeded to eat soft serve from the nearby dairy queen. Something I had planned to do regardless of COVID. Amazing where priorities are at the end of a tour.

So…thoughts. This is a fantastic ride for someone who wants to ease their way into unipacking. The roads are largely untrafficked despite having no shoulder and the hills aren’t anything to fret over. I feel like this is also a perfect way to make use of a smaller wheel cycle without the fear of it taking forever to get from A-B. If you live in the area, or even metro DC, I really think you’re missing out on the playground that is Western Virginia if you don’t at least drive out here and see what the state has to offer.

If you don’t live near here or even on the continent, I still highly encourage sniffing around for a ride like this. An easier, manageable ride on a smaller cycle for a weekend trip. A way not to feel overwhelmed with the excessive planning of routes or gear or means of getting there or back while also being able to see some great nature and make some memories. A great place to start, at least for me, has been looking up existing bike routes. I found this loop as suggested by bikers who could easily do this in a day whereas I, not used to huge miles or how I would feel hauling everything found this to be a perfect way to get oriented without the anxiety of over committing to something I wasn’t prepared for. Is 50 miles possible in a day on a unicycle? Yes, absolutely. You can always add on if you want, just by going left at the Gas Station you can find yourself in Douthat State Forest along the Hazel River and find a lovely small town of Clifton Forge with great mountain views that also leads back to Lexington. Play around, do what’s comfortable for you but, like in most things unicycle related, never be afraid to just send it.

Happy riding


@johnsjaunts Thanks for sharing the adventure. Many are scared to venture on the open road. :+1: for getting out and making memories!

1 Like

Thanks for that inspiring diary of your trip. I like your atitude and perspective and I really liked.that you made the trip on a 29 er. I also appreciate that the mileage you traveled.was a reasonable distance well within reach of an experienced rider. It just goes to show that you do not need to ride a 36 er to tour.