By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Jack Hawkins, Iohan Gueorguiev, Charles Richard
It was an early morning start for me on Thursday, January 9th. But this time, I wasn't cycling, nor even out on the bike.
I was set to meet a young man named Iohan Gueorguiev, who had just cycled from Toronto and was cycling to Halifax for his Christmas vacation. A journey of 2000km. We met through the CrazyGuyOnaBike Forums and our conversations through Gmail led to me sitting down with him to find out why he chose to cycle 2000 kilometres in the winter, and find out about the experiences he's had while on this remarkable journey.
Iohan and Charles received some very strange looks from the crowd at Tim Hortons when they rolled up on their bicycles at eight-thirty, he tells me that “I figured, even though people have called me crazy,” he says, “if I didn't do this, then I would never have known whether or not I can do it.” Those were very inspiring and insightful words for me. He's absolutely right, even if everyone else thinks you're nuts, you will feel the greatest sense of achievement once you have completed the thing that they all said was impossible.
And this isn't the first time that Iohan has embarked on a journey that some would deem “crazy”. He's cycled from Vancouver, British Columbia to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, and then cycled back to Thunder Bay, Ontario. This time, the journey was 6000KM – and it's all documented here, in Iohan's CrazyGuyOnaBike journal.
Not only is he doing this for exploration, and to discover whether or not it is indeed something he can do, he's also raising awareness of -- and hopefully funds for -- a Hamilton-based organisation called WelcomeInn. Which, according to his CGOAB journal, is - “Striving to bring people together and reduce poverty.” And though I didn't get time to ask him more about this organisation, I find myself commending this man for raising awareness about poverty and cycling for a cause.
I then asked Iohan what he had learned about himself while on tour.
“I learned that I want to travel more, even before a tour was finished I began thinking about where and when I can do another one. When you spend hours behind the handlebars, you often think what you want and what makes you happy. At this moment, I just want to travel around the world and enjoy the beautiful scenery, learn about different cultures, meet new people and at the same time keep the journey mentally and physically challenging.”
I also managed to get Iohan's spin on cycling in the Maritimes during the winter – something which not many Maritimers get to experience. He faced a gruelling first day in New Brunswick, “I rode against 30km/h winds, complete with snow from the night before and into the afternoon, then freezing rain and rain in the evening. But it was one of those days that if you can get through it, you kind of know that nothing else can stop you.”
The only question left for me to ask was, “Where are you going next?” His response was exactly what I expected, full of adventure and determination.
“While summer is still uncertain, I am going to take one year off school to ride down the west coast to Argentina and then hopefully hitch a sailboat ride to another continent or at least that is the general plan. Aside from ensuring that I can enter specific countries (visa applications and so on), I plan on having a very open-ended route and I hope to meet other cyclists going the same way and ride with them for some time (something I did not get to do yet.).
As for winter touring, I would probably try to avoid it for now, but riding The Dempster Highway (and the Tuktoyaktuk ice road) or Across Siberia would definitely be great adventures.”
More stories from Iohan (Click photos or titles for more)
Our most popular story ever. This is Iohan beginning a tour in Tuktoyaktuk. There are links to the part one and two videos from his youtube channel.
I Want to See the World: Part 3
Great to have another follow up article on the further adventures of Iohan Gueorguiev. This is part three of his tour. He cycles the Great Divide in winter.