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Recreating the first around the world ride 100 years on

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From March 25 to June 24, 2013, author, adventurer and Sunday Times motorcycle columnist Geoff Hill and former road racer Gary Walker will recreate the journey of American writer Carl Stearns Clancy, the first person to take a motorbike around the world 100 years ago.

Since Clancy’s father was Irish, he started the ride in Dublin with colleague Walter Storey and rode through Ireland and the UK, then on through Holland and Belgium to Paris.  Storey, who had never ridden a motorbike before the trip and had been badly shaken after being hit by a Dublin tram on the very first day, then returned home, and with incredible courage, 22-year-old Clancy continued alone, riding down through Europe and across Algeria and Tunisia.

When he found he couldn’t get petrol in India, he shipped the bike to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, rode around there and part of Malaysia, then hopped up through Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai to Nagasaki, rode around Japan, shipped to San Francisco and rode home to New York.

The main sponsor is motorcycle insurance broker, Adelaide Insurance Services, supported by BMW Motorrad, which will be providing the motorbikes for the trip: R1200GS Adventures which would probably seem like spaceships to Clancy compared to the 1912 Henderson he used – a 934cc inline four with one gear and no front brake which made 7bhp and was advertised at the time as the fastest motorcycle in the world.

Dr Gregory W Frazier, the American author and bike adventurer who wrote Motorcycle Adventurer after 16 years of research into Clancy’s original articles and pictures in the American magazine The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review, is organising a major series of PR events across the United States in June 2013 which Geoff and Gary will be joining and which will add to the critical mass of publicity.

Rather wonderfully, Geoff and Gary will be taking Clancy’s original boots on their second journey around the world 100 years after they did it the first time.

When Clancy died in Virginia in 1971, his housekeeper gave the boots to 16-year-old neighbour Liam O’Connor. Now a Professor in Western Australia, Liam has donated them to Geoff and Gary to pass on to Dr Frazier for donation to a museum, along with some of Clancy’s original notebooks and other travel documents from the trip.

During our journey, as well as producing stories and pictures for several newspapers, Geoff and Gary will be blogging on, linked to other websites such as BMW Motorrad, Horizons Unlimited and facebook, along with blogging weekly to the Times Online motoring site.

The book on the adventure has already been commissioned by Blackstaff Press, which has published all of Geoff’s best-selling books, including several on previous motorbike adventures such as Delhi to Belfast, Route 66, Chile to Alaska and around Australia.

Gary, a former actor as well as top road racer, starred with Joey and Robert Dunlop in the iconic 1992 documentary Between the Hedges.

His career highlights so far include being chatted up by Lena Zavaroni, minding Julie Christie and riding his race bike sideways along a dry stone wall at 140mph, although not all in the same weekend.

See Amazon for the book

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