Desert "bicycle wanderer" Iohan Gueorguiev dies at 33

A truck speeds through a blizzard on an icy road. The road is so far north of Canada that at 10 p.m. the sun still illuminates the land...


A truck speeds through a blizzard on an icy road. The road is so far north of Canada that at 10 p.m. the sun still illuminates the landscape, which is empty except for a few trees clinging to the snow-capped hills.

The truck driver catches up with a silhouette on a bicycle. It is a young man in a puffy coat and glasses. ” Where are you from ? Shouts the trucker from the window.

“Ontario, but I’m going to Argentina,” said the rider.

“On your bike?” asks the trucker.

“Yes!” the biker answers.

“Oh man,” the trucker said. “I love you!”

The scene started the first of 72 videos published by this biker, Iohan Gueorguiev, recounting his six-year trip to Argentina through a frozen ocean, deserts, canyons and forests. He discovers the grace of strangers and the company of wild animals, the glory of remote and wild landscapes and an audience of nearly 100,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Mr Gueorguiev (commonly pronounced gyor-ghee-ev) died on August 19 in Cranbrook, British Columbia, where he was using the friends house as a travel base during the pandemic. He was 33 years old.

The cause was suicide, said Matthew Bardeen, a friend who helped oversee Mr Gueorguiev’s affairs. His death was announced on Cycling websites at the end of last month.

Mr. Gueorguiev has made a name for himself overcoming challenges to his body and mind. He was a star in the world of “bikepacking”, long-distance bike trips made off the main roads. Calling himself the bike rider, he stood out for his Beatnik romance on the open road, unlike the competitiveness of many cycling jocks and speed bosses.

While Mr. Gueorguiev’s exact movements may be difficult to pin down, it seems clear that he spent April 2014 through March 2020 cycling from the Canadian Arctic Circle to its South American antipode, mountains and mountains. icy valleys of Patagonia. It was not a straight path. Mr Gueorguiev occasionally returned to Canada to earn money by planting trees, he said. While cycling, he would be distracted by chance encounters and eccentric trails.

“The biggest awareness so far is the number of people who are here and having the best time of their lives,” he said in a video compiling the highlights of his second year of travel.

He shot his videos with a simple GoPro camera charged by a portable solar panel. He would sometimes position the camera from a distance, giving the impression that he was traveling with a cinematographer. He was making around $ 3,000 a month through the Patreon fundraising website and received bikepacking sponsorships, allowing him to trade in the basic touring bike he started with for one with big tires designed for off-road riding. road.

Even if Mr. Gueorguiev tried to present the obstacles he encountered in a great adventure, his videos showed real difficulties. Headwinds on desert plains required him to take long breaks in the shelter behind rocks and to camp in a stray shipping container, which itself was shaking in strong gusts. He would go up to 30 days without seeing another cyclist and, when cycling was not possible, could wait two days on the road to be picked up as a hitchhiker.

A spirit of generosity helped him out. “Hello beauty!” he shouted to a big bear staring at him. When a tanker passing him on the road stirred up a dust storm, he waved his hand cheerfully. When he ran out of food on a particularly arduous journey, he nevertheless gave stray dogs tortilla and peanut butter sandwiches.

M. Gueorguiev marvels at the harshness of the desert. “There is snow here nine months a year and I wanted to see the North as it really was,” he said of his winter trip to the Arctic. He called the isolated Dempster Highway in Canada’s far northwest a “world of blue ice and white skies.”

“His curiosity just got him on the next mountain,” said Joe Stiller, whose bike equipment company, BarYak, sponsored Mr. Gueorguiev.

This prospect drew an audience.

“I have lived vicariously through Iohan for years,” commented a reader below a item on the death of M. Gueorguiev on bikepacking.com. Another wrote: “My first bike trip changed me and my life forever and you were an integral part of it.” Logan Watts, the founder of the website, said he received record traffic on the day the article was published.

Iohan Gueorguiev was born on January 20, 1988 in Bulgaria. He moved to Canada when he was 15, he said on his website. In his twenties, he studied engineering for about two years at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Karlee Winter, a friend of hers from McMaster, said her parents sent her to live with an uncle in Canada in search of better opportunities.

Little information about his past was available. Mr Gueorguiev’s lifestyle at the time was to say little about his own past, friends and colleagues said.

His former roommate at McMaster, Matt Vukovic, said Gueorguiev’s decision to leave college was driven in part by his to receive sponsorship and allocation in 2015 from the bicycle company Blackburn.

With the onset of the pandemic, Mr Gueorguiev found himself stranded in Canada, unable to cross borders due to travel restrictions. His videos got shorter and he stopped appearing onscreen as an enthusiastic narrator of his own experiences. Following social distancing guidelines, he avoided his usual short stays with new friends he had met on the road. In his online journal, he described cycling in the cold for days on end and spending nights with no indoor heating.

“I had high expectations for the Farewell Canyon”, he said wrote about a scenic part of British Columbia a few days before he died, “but it was very empty, dark, and empty of traffic.”

Mr Gueorguiev had spoken in recent months about the feeling of pressure over the inability to produce exciting new videos for his clients, Mr Bardeen said. He also suffered from insomnia. “I think I can get some sleep when I’m dead,” he wrote in a suicide note, according to Mr Bardeen.

Mr Stiller said he knew from his own experience of traveling over rough terrain how much Mr Gueorguiev had left out his cheerful videos – nights so cold he couldn’t sleep and soaked clothes after pushing his bike in the snow.

“That’s why he got so many followers,” Mr. Stiller said. “He rarely, if ever, portrayed the dangerous situations he got into. “

Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/ressources.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Desert "bicycle wanderer" Iohan Gueorguiev dies at 33
Desert "bicycle wanderer" Iohan Gueorguiev dies at 33
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