Iohan Gueorguiev, ‘Bike Wanderer’ of the Wilderness, Dies at 33
A truck barrels by way of a blizzard down a street made from ice. The street is to this point north in Canada that at 10 p.m. the solar nonetheless illuminates the panorama, which is empty apart from a couple of timber clinging to snow-covered hills.
The trucker catches as much as a determine driving a bicycle. It is a younger man in a puffy coat and goggles. “The place’d you come from?” the trucker yells out the window.
“Ontario, however I’m going to Argentina,” the biker says.
“In your bike?” the trucker asks.
“Yeah!” the biker replies.
“Oh man,” says the trucker. “I really like you!”
The scene started the primary of 72 videos launched by that biker, Iohan Gueorguiev, chronicling his six-year trek to Argentina by way of a frozen-over ocean, deserts, canyons and forests. He found the grace of strangers and the companionship of untamed animals, the glory of distant, untamed landscapes and an viewers of almost 100,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Mr. Gueorguiev (usually pronounced gyor-ghee-ev) died on Aug. 19 in Cranbrook, British Columbia, the place he had been utilizing the house of pals as a base for journey through the pandemic. He was 33.
Mr. Gueorguiev made his identify overcoming challenges hurled at his physique and spirit. He was a star on the earth of “bikepacking,” long-distance bike journey performed off important roads. Calling himself the Bike Wanderer, he stood out for his Beatnik-like romanticism in regards to the open street, in distinction to the competitiveness of many bike jocks and kit heads.
Although Mr. Gueorguiev’s precise actions could possibly be arduous to pin down, it appears clear he spent from April 2014 to March 2020 biking from the Canadian Arctic Circle to its South American antipode, the icy mountains and valleys of Patagonia. It was not a straight path. Mr. Gueorguiev sometimes flew again to Canada to earn cash planting timber, he mentioned. Whereas biking, he would get sidetracked by serendipitous encounters and eccentric trails.
“The most important realization to this point is how many individuals are out right here and having the time of their lives,” he said in a video compiling highlights of his second 12 months of journey.
He shot his movies with a easy GoPro digital camera charged by a conveyable photo voltaic panel. He would typically place the digital camera at a distance, making it seem as if he traveled with a cinematographer. He earned about $3,000 a month by way of the funding web site Patreon and obtained bikepacking sponsorships, enabling him to change the fundamental touring bike he began with for one with fats tires designed for driving off-road.
Nevertheless a lot Mr. Gueorguiev tried to forged the obstacles he encountered as a part of a grand journey, his movies confirmed real hardships. Headwinds on desert plains required him to take lengthy breaks sheltered behind rocks and make a campsite in a stray transport container, which itself shook from highly effective gusts. He would go so long as 30 days with out seeing a fellow bicycle owner and, when biking was not possible, may wait two days on the street to get picked up as a hitchhiker.
A spirit of generosity helped him get by. “Hey, stunning!” he referred to as out to a big bear gazing him. When a tanker truck passing him on the street kicked up a storm of mud, he waved cheerfully in response. When he was operating out of meals on a very arduous journey, he nonetheless fed tortilla-and-peanut-butter sandwiches to stray canine.
Mr. Gueorguiev discovered surprise within the harshness of the wilderness. “There may be snow right here 9 months of the 12 months, and I needed to see the North because it really was,” he mentioned of his winter journey by way of the Arctic. He referred to as the distant Dempster Freeway in Canada’s far northwest “a world of blue ice and white sky.”
“His curiosity simply carried him time and again the following mountain,” mentioned Joe Stiller, whose biking gear firm, BarYak, sponsored Mr. Gueorguiev.
That outlook attracted a following.
“I’ve lived vicariously by way of Iohan for years,” one reader commented under an article about Mr. Gueorguiev’s dying on bikepacking.com. One other wrote, “My first bicycle journey modified me and my life ceaselessly and also you have been an integral a part of that.” Logan Watts, the web site’s founder, mentioned it obtained report visitors the day the article was posted.
Iohan Gueorguiev was born on Jan. 20, 1988, in Bulgaria. He moved to Canada when he was 15, he mentioned on his web site. In his 20s he studied engineering for about two years at McMaster College in Hamilton, Ontario. Karlee Winter, a pal of his from McMaster, mentioned his dad and mom had despatched him to dwell with an uncle in Canada seeking higher alternatives.
Little details about his background was obtainable. Mr. Gueorguiev’s fashion of residing within the second included speaking little about his personal previous, pals and colleagues mentioned.
His former roommate at McMaster, Matt Vukovic, mentioned Mr. Gueorguiev’s choice to depart the college was motivated partially by his receiving a sponsorship and stipend in 2015 from the biking firm Blackburn.
With the onset of the pandemic, Mr. Gueorguiev discovered himself caught in Canada, unable to cross borders due to journey restrictions. His movies grew shorter, and he ceased showing onscreen as an enthusiastic narrator of his personal experiences. Abiding by social distancing steerage, he prevented his recurring quick stays on the properties of recent pals he had met on the street. In his online journal, he described biking within the chilly for days on finish and spending nights with out indoor heating.
“I had massive expectations for the Farewell Canyon,” he wrote a couple of scenic space in British Columbia a couple of days earlier than he died, “but it surely was very empty, gloomy and void of all visitors.”
Mr. Gueorguiev had in latest months mentioned feeling strain about being unable to supply thrilling new movies for his patrons, Mr. Bardeen mentioned. He was additionally affected by insomnia. “I feel I can get some sleep after I’m lifeless,” he wrote in a suicide be aware, in response to Mr. Bardeen.
Mr. Stiller mentioned he knew from his personal expertise touring by way of tough terrain how a lot Mr. Gueorguiev had neglected of his cheerful movies — nights so chilly, he couldn’t sleep, and garments soaked from pushing his bike by way of snow.
“That’s why he received such an enormous following,” Mr. Stiller mentioned. “He seldom, if ever, portrayed the harmful conditions he put himself in.”
Sheelagh McNeill contributed analysis.
If you’re having ideas of suicide, name the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You’ll find a listing of extra assets at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.