CS Clancy Centenary Ride

‘Frazier’s two-wheel travels have taken him over 1,000,000 miles and he has literally ridden a motorcycle to the ends of the earth’


Peter Murtagh

Dr Gregory W Frazier, the man who rescued from historical amnesia the story of Carl Clancy and his pioneering around-the-world on a motorcycle achievement, is himself something of a curiosity. The irrepressible Dr G is 65-years-old and a member of the Crow Indian Nation. He lives on a reservation by Bighorn River in Yellowtail, southern Montana.

When he’s not chasing the sun on a motorbike and writing for various magazines and websites, he is a documentary film producer.

The Dr bit derives from a PhD in economics, wouldn’t you know. “I wonder in amazement at how some countries I pass through stay afloat,” he says. “Ireland? I keep shaking my head at Greece (want to buy some deeply discounted government bonds?), Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and those are just EU. Africa is amazing, places like Zim. . .”

In real life, it’s a fairly safe bet that Dr G finds motorbikes more reliable than most anything else. Like Carl Clancy, Dr G owns a Henderson and when he was pondering a 1913 Henderson sales brochure, he noticed a photograph of Clancy with reference to his around-the-world trip. In an instant he knew there was a story to be told.

“I was hooked like a starving fish, wanting to know more to learn about this monumental feat,” he wrote later.

Dr G found Clancy’s long-forgotten reports written for a New York-based biker weekly magazine and compiled them into a book, Motorcycle Adventurer - Carl Stearns Clancy: first motorcyclist to ride around the world 1912-1913 , which he self-published in 2010.

Many in the biker fraternity were fascinated and inspired and hence Geoff Hill and Gary Walker’s re-enactment of Clancy’s 1912-1913 adventure, with me tootling along in their slipstream.

Dr G has done it all himself, of course. Websites with which he is associated are wont to describe him in these terms:

“Professional motorcycle adventurer Dr Gregory W Frazier is the only motorcyclist in the world to have four times circumnavigated the globe solo by motorcycle. He has been described as ‘America’s #1 extreme motorcycle adventurer.’

“No stranger to danger, his adventures around the earth include having been shot at by rebels, jailed by unfriendly authorities, bitten by snakes, run over by Pamplona bulls and smitten by a product of Adam’s rib.

“Frazier’s two-wheel travels have taken him over 1,000,000 miles and he has literally ‘ridden a motorcycle to the ends of the earth’: Dead Horse, Alaska; Ushuaia, Argentina; North Cape, Norway; Cape Agulhaus, South Africa; and Bluff, New Zealand.

“Frazier’s work as a motorcycle journalist and professional photographer appears widely throughout the international motorcycling press.”

Apart from compiling and editing the Clancy book, which took 16 years on and off, Dr G has written several volumes based on his own adventures Alaska by Motorcycle, Europe by Motorcycle, Motorcycle Poems by the Biker Poet, Motorcycle Cemetery Tales , and the intriguingly titled, Motorcycle Sex: Freud Would Never Understand the Relationship Between Me and My Motorcycle .

I’m not sure I would either. . .

Apart from Yellowtail, Dr G appears also to maintain an office in Denver, Colorado, where is the Whole Earth Motorcycle Centre. As Geoff, Gary and I set off a few days back, I emailed Dr G to inquire as to his whereabouts.

“Siam,” came the reply. “Eight years ago on one of my rides around the globe, I passed through Thailand and thought, ‘hmmm, I like this; inexpensive, food’s good, ladies pretty and one can ride motorcycles all year around and there are plenty of them’ . . . I returned next year. . . Now it is an annual event; I keep three motorcycles over here, I keep a base (house, part time Mrs, bikes, office) in the northern part of Thailand where I do winter work. . .”

Dr G will be off back to Denver soon and from there to the reservation in southern Montana from where he will strike out in the early summer to hook up with Geoff and Gary and ride across the States with them, completing the re-enactment of Carl Clancy's ride 100 years ago.

One other person deserves an honourable mention when it comes to reviving the memory of Carl Clancy. Feargal O'Neill, a biker from Blessington in Co Wicklow, read Motorcycle Adventurer and contacted Geoff Hill to tell him about it. That led to the re-enactment last October of Clancy's Irish route from Joe Duffy Motorrad in Finglas and my participation in it.

That in turn led to the past three weeks riding with Geoff and Gary through the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain, as they re-enact the entire around-the-world caper.

Thanks Feargal and well done you! Thanks Geoff and Gary for allowing me tag along; thanks to Adelaide Insurance for helping you on your way. And a big thanks to Joe Duffy for digging me out of a dodgy gearbox hole just before lift-off!

Sources: adelaideadventures.com; motorcycle-usa.com and horizonsunlimite.com

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