Travel

Iohan Gueorguiev, ‘Bike Wanderer’ of the Wilderness, Dies at 33

A truck barrels by a blizzard down a highway manufactured from ice. The highway is up to now north in Canada that at 10 p.m. the solar nonetheless illuminates the panorama, which is empty aside from a number 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 movies launched by that biker, Iohan Gueorguiev, chronicling his six-year trek to Argentina by 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 practically 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 buddies as a base for journey throughout the pandemic. He was 33.

The trigger was suicide, mentioned Matthew Bardeen, a buddy who was serving to to supervise Mr. Gueorguiev’s affairs. His demise was introduced on biking web sites late final month.

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 most important roads. Calling himself the Bike Wanderer, he stood out for his Beatnik-like romanticism in regards to the open highway, in distinction to the competitiveness of many bike jocks and kit heads.

Although Mr. Gueorguiev’s precise actions might 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 largest realization up to now is how many individuals are out right here and having the time of their lives,” he mentioned in a video compiling highlights of his second yr of journey.

He shot his movies with a easy GoPro digicam charged by a transportable photo voltaic panel. He would generally place the digicam at a distance, making it seem as if he traveled with a cinematographer. He earned about $3,000 a month by the funding web site Patreon and obtained bikepacking sponsorships, enabling him to alternate the essential touring bike he began with for one with fats tires designed for driving off-road.

Nonetheless a lot Mr. Gueorguiev tried to solid 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 delivery 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, might wait two days on the highway 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 watching him. When a tanker truck passing him on the highway 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 canines.

Mr. Gueorguiev discovered marvel within the harshness of the wilderness. “There’s snow right here 9 months of the yr, and I needed to see the North because it really was,” he mentioned of his winter journey by 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 Iohan for years,” one reader commented under an article about Mr. Gueorguiev’s demise on bikepacking.com. One other wrote, “My first bicycle journey modified me and my life ceaselessly and also you had been an integral a part of that.” Logan Watts, the web site’s founder, mentioned it obtained file site 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 buddy of his from McMaster, mentioned his dad and mom had despatched him to reside with an uncle in Canada searching for higher alternatives.

Little details about his background was out there. Mr. Gueorguiev’s model of residing within the second included speaking little about his personal previous, buddies and colleagues mentioned.

His former roommate at McMaster, Matt Vukovic, mentioned Mr. Gueorguiev’s choice to depart the college was motivated partly 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 steering, he prevented his ordinary quick stays on the properties of recent buddies he had met on the highway. In his on-line 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 few scenic space in British Columbia a number of days earlier than he died, “but it surely was very empty, gloomy and void of all site visitors.”

Mr. Gueorguiev had in latest months mentioned feeling stress about being unable to provide 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 accordance with Mr. Bardeen.

Mr. Stiller mentioned he knew from his personal expertise touring by tough terrain how a lot Mr. Gueorguiev had overlooked of his cheerful movies — nights so chilly, he couldn’t sleep, and garments soaked from pushing his bike by snow.

“That’s why he received such a giant following,” Mr. Stiller mentioned. “He seldom, if ever, portrayed the harmful conditions he put himself in.”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed analysis.

In case you are having ideas of suicide, name the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You will discover an inventory of further sources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/sources.

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