A truck barrels by way of a blizzard down a highway fabricated from ice. The highway is to this point north in Canada that at 10 p.m. the solar nonetheless illuminates the panorama, which is empty aside from a couple of bushes 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 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 (typically pronounced gyor-ghee-ev) died on Aug. 19 in Cranbrook, British Columbia, the place he had been utilizing the house of mates as a base for journey in the course of the pandemic. He was 33.
Mr. Gueorguiev made his identify overcoming challenges hurled at his physique and spirit. He was a star on this planet of “bikepacking,” long-distance bike journey performed off fundamental roads. Calling himself the Bike Wanderer, he stood out for his Beatnik-like romanticism concerning the open highway, in distinction to the competitiveness of many bike jocks and equipment heads.
Although Mr. Gueorguiev’s precise actions may very well be exhausting 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 often flew again to Canada to earn cash planting bushes, he stated. 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 stated in a video compiling highlights of his second yr 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 acquired bikepacking sponsorships, enabling him to alternate the fundamental touring bike he began with for one with fats tires designed for driving off-road.
Nevertheless 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, may 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 looking at him. When a tanker truck passing him on the highway kicked up a storm of mud, he waved cheerfully in response. When he was working out of meals on a very arduous journey, he however fed tortilla-and-peanut-butter sandwiches to stray canines.
Mr. Gueorguiev discovered marvel within the harshness of the wilderness. “There may be snow right here 9 months of the yr, and I wished to see the North because it actually was,” he stated 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 subsequent mountain,” stated 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 beneath 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 have been an integral a part of that.” Logan Watts, the web site’s founder, stated it acquired document 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 stated 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, stated his dad and mom had despatched him to reside with an uncle in Canada searching for higher alternatives.
Little details about his background was accessible. Mr. Gueorguiev’s fashion of dwelling within the second included speaking little about his personal previous, mates and colleagues stated.
His former roommate at McMaster, Matt Vukovic, stated Mr. Gueorguiev’s determination to go away 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 steerage, he prevented his routine brief stays on the houses of recent mates 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 huge expectations for the Farewell Canyon,” he wrote a few scenic space in British Columbia a couple of days earlier than he died, “however it 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 stated. He was additionally affected by insomnia. “I feel I can get some sleep once I’m useless,” he wrote in a suicide notice, in line with Mr. Bardeen.
Mr. Stiller stated 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 bought such a giant following,” Mr. Stiller stated. “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 will discover a listing of further sources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/sources.