In Memory of Iohan

“I Iohan want to see the world. Follow a map to its edges, and keep going. Forgo the plans, trust my instincts. Let curiosity be my guide. I want to change hemispheres. Sleep with unfamiliar stars. And let the journey unfold before me.”

Iohan Gueorguiev was an adventurer. He captivated the minds of countless people as he traveled by bicycle and packraft across the Americas, documenting his amazing adventures on his YouTube channel in a video series titled See The World. Beginning in the ice roads of northern Canada in 2014, he spent months traversing the Yukon and Alaskan highways before making his way through the American national parks and continuing south through Mexico. After volcano hopping in the Central American jungles and taking a paddling detour around the Darien Gap, he finally reached the shores of Colombia, all while filming and uploading his footage for us to enjoy. Years and countless stories later, he reached the high mountains of Patagonia at Lake O’Higgins before returning to Canada to work and wait through the pandemic.

And that was where his epic Pan-American adventure came to an abrupt and tragic end. The cycling community received a note from one of his touring friends in Argentina that he passed away about a month ago. That he suffered from chronic sleep apnea and insomnia, to the degree that he took his own life to end the pain. So many of us had come to love his videos over the years, and were shocked and saddened that this would happen to such a brilliant soul. I’m still trying to process my own feelings as I write these words.

I followed Iohan for years. He was one of the first people to truly inspire me to go on my own adventures and capture the experiences in video and written word. He had a purity to him that I always admired. His sense of adventure was simple, and genuine. Whether making friends with stray dogs, staying with host families in remote villages, or shooting an epic panorama, he was always able to capture the moment and tell a story that connects and resonates with us.

And so as I go through his old videos, so many things come back to memory. Like the Athabascan woman who sang about Denali in her native tongue. Or when he crossed paths with Sarah Outen on the Alcan Highway. And then camped on a volcano high above Guadalajara. And the time he tried to ride the back roads in Panama, only to see them turn into a mudslide and force him to hitch a ride out in somebody’s truck. And of course there were the incredible panoramas of the remote Bolivian highlands. To the soundtrack of Spanish folk music, Iohan was riding on the bottom of the screen, trying to fit the huge landscapes of the Andes into the picture.

And he was always meeting kind folks and animals along the road. He was a friend among many horses, dogs, cats, alpacas, and townsfolk. And yet, always moving on. Because he wanted to see the world. He wanted to follow the map to its edges and keep going. He wanted to let the journey unfold before him. And then he wanted to share it with us.

It’s impossible to say how many of us have been impacted and inspired by his journey – one so suddenly brought to an end. It never seems fair to see life taken away from someone who lived it to its fullest. But this is a story that will live on. As I speak, a group of his friends are planning a memorial in Ushuaia. I want to see it one day and thank him for sharing his life adventure.

He is Iohan, the Bike Wanderer. And while he may no longer be with us, our hearts are with him in the wilds of Patagonia.