The Adelaide Centenary Adventure

The Adelaide Centenary Adventure – Recreating the first around the world ride 100 years on

Joe Duffy Motorrad, Dublin 23 October 2012 – (Left to right) Sam Geddis, Director Adelaide Insurance Services main sponsor of The Adelaide Centenary Adventure – seated on the 1912 Henderson bike, the same model Clancy rode around the world on. Gary Walker, Lee Bell, Sales Manager Joe Duffy BMW Motorrad, Geoff Hill.

The first biker to ride around the world left Dublin 100 years ago on October 23, 1912.

On Tuesday 23 October 2012, the centenary of that day, author, adventurer and Sunday Times motorcycle columnist Geoff Hill and former racer Gary Walker were in Dublin to announce their attempt to recreate that incredible journey.

Sponsored by motorcycle insurance specialists Adelaide Insurance Services, and supported by BMW Motorrad, they and bikers from all over Ireland met at Joe Duffy Motorrad on Tuesday morning to celebrate the achievement of American writer Carl Stearns Clancy.

They have the original boots which Clancy wore plus a Henderson motorbike as used by Clancy for the trip.

The Henderson led a parade of bikers north from Dublin to recreate over Tuesday 23 October and Wednesday 24 October the Irish leg of Clancy’s journey, through Donegal to the Giant’s Causeway and down the Antrim coast road to Belfast.

Geoff and Gary will then recreate Clancy’s entire round the world journey from April to June next year accompanied by his original boots on their second journey around the world 100 years after they did it the first time.

BMW Motorrad are 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.

Gary Walker (left) seated on a 1912 Henderson bike, the same model Clancy rode around the world on and in Clancy’s original boots! Gary also wore similar attire to what Clancy wore on the entire journey 100 years ago – a tweed three-piece suit and flat cap. In contrast, Geoff Hill (right) in typical 2012 biker gear. Adelaide Masters Series grid girl winner, Shauna Murphy (front right).

Feargal O’Neill, a Dublin biker is credited as the catalyst for the 2012 part of the story which started in February last year when Geoff received an email from him: “I think it is a real shame that Clancy is not better known, when you think that he accomplished this feat before the outbreak of the First World War and six years before Alcock and Brown crossed the Atlantic. With the centenary looming, myself and some other motorcyclists are going to recreate the Irish leg of the journey. I feel that there is a duty on us modern-day motorcyclists to do our bit to honour the memory of this great pioneer of our sport, and I really hope that you might be able to come to Dublin for the big send-off.” “Would you be interested?”

As soon as Geoff replied to Feargal’s email saying yes, he ordered Motorcycle Adventurer about Clancy’s journey by multiple round the world rider and author Dr Gregory Frazier who last year published this book from Amazon, and the more Geoff read it, the more he became convinced that recreating the journey just had to be done.

Clancy and colleague Walter Storey started the ride in Dublin because Clancy’s father was Irish and after leaving Ireland, the two rode through the UK and 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.

His journey took 10 months and 18 000 miles in a tweed three-piece suit and a flat cap!

Some highlights of the Irish leg:

Since the third Home Rule Bill had been given royal assent in September 1912, rumours were rife that civil war was imminent, and Clancy and Storey had not come unprepared.

“After backing out of several violent Home Rule discussions, we decided to be prepared for the worst, so before entering Ulster, we got out our Savage automatics and, to practice, banged away at a tree on the lonely roadside beside the beautiful Lough Erne,” wrote Clancy.

When the tree showed no signs of either retaliating or starting a Home Rule discussion, they remounted.

With the wind and rain howling around and the afternoon sky growing dark, they had the Causeway to themselves, and found it a “remarkable freak of nature”, but thought the surrounding cliffs much more wonderful.

They climbed back on for Belfast, but after only 15 miles, with the storm soaking them to the skin and nearly blowing them over several times, and with Clancy getting constant electric shocks from the Henderson through his sodden gloves, they returned to Ballycastle and took refuge  in the Antrim Arms, which has been owned by Tom O’Neill and his family for over 200 years.


Adelaide Insurance Services are Northern Ireland’s long-standing motorcycle insurance broker – trading UK wide and in The Republic of Ireland and are also part of Cornmarket Group Financial Services in Ireland. Adelaide Insurance was voted the UK’s number 1 for Value for Money in the Auto Express Driver Power 2012 survey, beating all the UK’s best known brands.

Geoff will be writing about the trip in the UK and Irish national media as well with blogging on with the help of Gary as the team photographer, cameraman and mechanic. These blogs will be linked to other websites such as BMW, Castrol, Horizons Unlimited and Facebook.

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.

More pictures on the Adelaide Insurance Services website – Click Here

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