Dr Frazier Plans ‘Round the World Ride

January 10, 2013
Dr. Gregory Frazier
Dr. Gregory Frazier
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Having made multiple runs across the globe, round-the-world adventurer Dr. Frazier imparts some of his motorcycle traveling wisdom in his monthly Dr. Frazier Rides column.

Carl Stearns Clancy and riding pal Mr. Robert  Bob  Allen about to depart San Francisco June 2  1913.
Carl Stearns Clancy and riding pal Mr. Robert (Bob) Allen about to depart San Francisco June 2, 1913.

The hook was set for my next ‘round the world ride October 23, 2012. After three days and nights listening to motorcycle travelers recount their adventures as they circled the globe at the 2012 California Horizons Unlimited Meeting, my loose plan for another global circumnavigation firmed up. The lust for life on the road around the globe was the hook and I bit down on it firmly like a hungry trout; soon after I mapped a route across the United States.

October 23, 2012 was my official announcement date, to coincide with the beginning of The Clancy Centenary Ride, 100 years to the day since the first globe girdling motorcyclist set out on his journey and an occasion celebrated by Irish motorcycle enthusiasts halfway around the world. (The Clancy information page is: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com/clancy. The Clancy updates pages are here: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com/clancyride). I would make a second attempt to girdle the globe for the sixth time.

On June 2, 1913, Carl Stearns Clancy, on his 1912 Henderson motorcycle, with his riding pal Mr. Robert Allen, on a 1913 Henderson motorcycle, departed San Francisco. Clancy later stated that the roads ahead, which crossed the United States, were “far worse than any other country,” he had traveled through on his record-setting ride around the world. Today the roads that caused him to write “if ever a man was bitter against motorcycling, it was I and then,” are paved and some of the easiest riding I will do while circling the globe.

Like Clancy, I plan to have a partner, Mr. Richard Livermore. Clancy wrote of the value of a partner, “I may say in passing that a party of two or three riders can derive much more enjoyment from a world tour than a single rider….that much of the fascination of the motorcycle lies in the spirit of companionship that it encourages.”

San Francisco departure slated for June 2  2013 with same scene as Clancy saw in 1913.
San Francisco departure slated for June 2, 2013 with same scene as Clancy saw in 1913.

The plan is to officially start from the Los Angeles area which will make ending the global loop easier than landing in any other Western United States port for several reasons. The first is the great number of air flights arriving in Los Angeles that have departed from eastern parts of Asia, where the land route will end. The second is I have landed in Los Angeles numerous times from Asia, with and without motorcycles coming across as cargo, so know some of the pitfalls to hopefully avoid.

Motorcycles have been crossing the United States between San Francisco to New York City since at least 1913. While Clancy and Allen were in the town of Dunsmuir, California on their way north to Portland they met “a tourist who had just arrived from Chicago on a one-cylinder “X” and they fully believed his assertion that he had ‘walked most of the way.’” During the recently completed, Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run www.motorcyclecannonball.com it was one of these Excelsior motorcycles that scored first-place, a 1913 model that had also scored first in the 2010 event. The 3,956 miles from Newburgh, New York to San Francisco, California followed much of the route Clancy used on his 1912 motorcycle. If interested in how the old motorcycles did over the 3956 miles, the results are here.

The route I have mapped out following much of Clancy’s original route across the United States will be closer to 5500 miles than the 3956 miles of The Cannonball Endurance Run. This is due to some of Clancy’s side trips, like when he and Allen rode to Gardiner, Montana from Livingston and were turned back from riding their motorcycles into Yellowstone National Park. Another vector off the Cannonball Endurance Run direct route across the eastern part of the United States will be to follow Clancy’s route to Niagara Falls.

2010 and 2012 winner of the Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run  a 1913 Excelsior motorcycle.
2010 and 2012 “winner” of the Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run, a 1913 Excelsior motorcycle.

Adding to the miles we will drive during our time crossing the United States will be our trip from Madison, Wisconsin to Anamosa, Iowa where we plan to visit the National Motorcycle Museum www.nationalmcmuseum.org. There, we will present the museum with the pair of boots Clancy wore on his 1912-1913 ride around the world, as well as some of his original writings. The National Motorcycle Museum also has a treasure we would like to view, one of the few 1912 Henderson motorcycles produced known to still exist.

Near the end of The Clancy Centenary Ride we will visit the Motorcylepedia Museum www.motorcyclepediamuseum.org in Newburgh, New York, again slightly off the original Clancy trail. From there we will change course and head into New York City, 65 miles south, ending at Grand Central Station, where Clancy departed in 1912 on the start of his “girdling the globe.”

The dates and overnight towns we will stop at along the way are:

June 1: Los Angeles, CA – San Francisco, CA
In San Francisco connect with fellow Clancy Centenary Riders and follow the below schedule:

Entrant in the Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run  a 1929 Henderson.
Entrant in the Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run, a 1929 Henderson.
1924 Henderson Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run entrant from Germany
1924 Henderson Pre-1930 Cannonball Endurance Run entrant from Germany

“CLANCY CENTENARY RIDE” – USA Route/Schedule – June 2, 2013 to June 21, 2013
June 2: San Francisco, CA – Sacramento, CA (Sunday, 100 years after Clancy departed)
June 3: Sacramento, CA – Medford, OR
June 4: Medford, OR – Portland, OR
June 5: Portland, OR – Spokane, WA
June 6: Spokane, WA – Butte, MT
June 7: Butte, MT – Billings, MT (with side trip/return from Livingston, MT to Entrance of Yellowstone Park at Gardiner)
June 8: Billings, MT (Rest Day – Saturday)
June 9: Billings, MT – Bismark, ND
June 10: Bismark, ND – Minneapolis, MN
June 11: Minneapolis, MN – Madison, WI
June 12: Madison, WI – Anamosa, IA (side trip off Clancy original route to visit the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa)
June 13: Anamosa, IA – Madison, WI
June 14: Madison, WI – Chicago, IL
June 15: Chicago, IL (Rest Day – possible evening presentation TBA for Saturday PM)
June 16: Chicago, IL – Detroit, MI
June 17: Detroit, MI – Cleveland, OH
June 18: Cleveland, OH – Buffalo, NY (side trip to Niagara Falls)
June 19: Buffalo, NY – Albany, NY
June 20: Albany, NY – Newburgh, NY (Motorcyclepedia Museum)
June 21: Newburgh, NY – New York City area, Official Celebration/End of Centenary Ride – location for Friday evening TBA)

While Clancy took nearly three months to follow this route (June 2, 1913 – August 27, 1913) we will cover the same ground in three weeks.

Plans beyond New York City include reaching the southernmost point of South America that motorcycles can access; the end of Ruta 3 south of the town of Ushuaia, Argentina. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean we hope to tag Africa’s southernmost point, Cape Agulhaus, and then work our way to Europe’s northernmost point, the North Cape. From there we will point our motorcycles east to finish crossing Russia in the town of Vladivostok. Crossing the Pacific Ocean will find us back at our original start point of Los Angeles, California.

The 2013 route  like the one taken by Clancy 100 years earlier  traverses some of the Bozeman Trail.
The 2013 route, like the one taken by Clancy 100 years earlier, traverses some of the Bozeman Trail.
The trail  track and roads have been walked or ridden over what is now known as the Bozeman Pass for 100s  if not 1 000s of years.
The trail, track and roads have been walked or ridden over what is now known as the Bozeman Pass for 100’s, if not 1,000’s of years.

We will have crossed all 24 of the Mother Earth’s time zones, and in the spirit of Clancy’s original ‘round the world ride, will have clocked at least 18,000 ground miles by motorcycle.

What remains undecided at the beginning of 2013 is what make and model motorcycles we will use. We have some secrets that will be revealed in the coming months. However, we have been given the following globe-circler advice:

“I must say that the motorcyclist who undertakes such a tour should carefully consider all the risks entailed. The up-to-date motorcycle is just about as dependable a piece of mechanism as a chap would care to handle, but it must be remembered that there are some geographical conditions beyond the prowess of even the sturdiest single-tracker. Routes should be mapped with the utmost care, and plenty of time should be given to collecting data relative to general traveling conditions in the various countries to be entered, so that the tourist may not find himself hemmed in by precipitous mountains or some other barrier and forced to make a hundred-mile detour. Such conditions may easily be encountered on a ‘round-the-world tour by motorcycle and only constant watchfulness can keep the rider out of trouble.”

Our sage adviser went on by writing, “It is a great consolation, however, to know that one’s mount is going to be equal to all kinds of rough going and that the danger of a mishap between towns that may be fifty miles apart is reduced to the minimum. The tourist who undertakes such a long jump with the limited baggage and tools which can be carried over a rough country is bound to take a few chances, but if his mount is worthy of his confidence he will get through and be all the more an enthusiast for his experience.” (Carl Stearns Clancy, September 4, 1914, as published in the book Motorcycle Adventurer) .

No matter what motorcycles we use, Mr. Livermore and I are looking forward to fun, adventures and an educational ‘round-the-world motorcycle ride.