1890: A Record-Setting Motorcyclist Begins His Life’s Journey in New Hampshire

August 8, 1890

Carl Stearns Clancy, who became the first person to travel around the world on a motorcycle, was born in the town of Epping, New Hampshire. His mother was from Massachusetts and his father had emigrated from Ireland.

Carl Stearns Clancy’s transportation-related to fame began in earnest in October 1912 when he and fellow motorcyclist Walter Rendell Storey sailed from New York to Dublin, Ireland. The motorcycle that Clancy brought with him to his father’s homeland was a four-cylinder, seven-horsepower (5.2-kilowatt) model produced that same year by the Detroit-based Henderson Motorcycle Company. (This company manufactured four-cylinder motorcycles between 1912 and 1931.)

After riding their motorcycles throughout much of Ireland, Clancy and Storey traveled via ferry to Glasgow, Scotland. Both men eventually made their way to continental Europe to continue their motorcycle trip. Storey ended up returning to the United States after they reached Paris, but Clancy — riding his Henderson Four motorcycle — pressed on alone with his planned circumnavigation of the globe.

By the time he completed that ambitious worldwide trek in August 1913, Clancy and his motorcycle had covered 18,000 miles (28,968.2 kilometers) while traveling through Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. To help finance this journey, Clancy regularly submitted accounts of his experiences along the way to the New York-based weekly magazine Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review.

Clancy’s widespread fame was not restricted to his record-setting motorcycle expedition. He also carved out a high-profile career for himself in films during the 1920s. Clancy was the producer of 14 films, the director of 13, and the writer of three. Later in life, he moved to Virginia and began a new career making documentaries for the U.S. Forest Service. Clancy died in 1971 at the age of 80.

In 2013, motorcycle columnist Geoff Hill and veteran road racer Gary Walker traveled around the world together on motorcycles to recreate Clancy’s journey a century earlier. Hill brought along with him the same boots that Clancy wore during his own across-the-globe trip.

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Carl Stearns Clancy, please check out  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Stearns_Clancy

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