Journey around the world: Carl Stearns Clancy, the first pioneer

Journey around the world: Carl Stearns Clancy, the first pioneer

Today we are going deep down the rabbit hole of our motorcycling imagination as the adventurers and voyagers which we are (each in our own way). We are doing so by remembering Carl Stearns Clancy, 110 years after the end of his most famous deed: completing what was the first journey around the world on a motorcycle, according to all the evidence which has come our way.

Take risks and try new things.

This is the story of a young copywriter born in New Hampshire (in 1890) who was tired of his job. In 1912, he involved his friend Walter Rendell Storey in his plan and convinced the Henderson Motorcycles & Co. manufacturers, based in Detroit, to hand them a couple of bikes. The idea was to do what no other human had reportedly ever done! But as for every romantic tale, herein lies another legend: the whole idea apparently came up by chance, at a dinner in which Clancy voiced the hyperbolic notion in order to impress an attractive woman. By pure chance, the person sitting at the table next to theirs was one of the Henderson company’s managers who was awestruck by the potential publicity opportunity (after all, wasn’t Clancy an advertiser?)… to the point of offering Carl two brand-new motorbikes between a serving and a dessert!

So Carl and Walter set off, for real, carrying tools, tents, typewriters, spools and, seen as you’re never careful enough, a revolver. They proceeded towards Europe, intending to cover their expenses by writing articles for the Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review monthly magazine. Having reached Ireland, an ugly rear end collision wrote off Storey’s bike, meaning that he had to ride pillion all the way to Paris, where he decided to bid farewell to his companion in order to let Clancy continue more “comfortably” alone. So Clancy reached the Iberian Peninsula and then North Africa which he crossed all the way to the far east, reaching Malaysia. There he took a ship to Japan, from where he then crossed the Pacific to return to his homeland. He got back to New York, alive, after having traveled 18.000 miles in 11 months!  So, his journey became a milestone which today we are all grateful for. Carl went on to be a director; only in January 1971 he gave his last farewell to the world, which he had intensely seen and known.


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