July 6, 2013
After saying farewell to his parents, Clancy rode into New York State and rolled in splendid happiness along the finest roads of the entire trip, and on the morning of August 27, 1913, a moving picture camera captured his triumphant return into Manhattan at the end of an 11-month, 18,000-mile odyssey which had tested him countless times to the limit and taught him lessons he would learn for the rest of his long life.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my trip and profited by every mile of it,” he told the Bicycling World and Motorcycling Review afterwards.
“I was accompanied throughout much of the journey…but I was also called upon to make some long and trying jumps alone.
“There is so much to be seen and discussed along even the most ordinary foreign route that the rider who travels alone soon finds that he is missing something. He needs a congenial partner.
“I do not know if I will ever make another round the world trip, but if I do it may be depended on that I will travel by motorcycle.”
Sadly, he never did, and when he took his boots off and hung them up, there is no evidence that he ever wore them again until his death in 1971, when his housekeeper gave them to young Liam O’Connor, who then passed them on to me.
And so, having left Belfast on the coldest day of the year and carried them around the world a second time, we rode with them into New York City on the hottest day of the year, pulling up at Penn Station to see Lynda Clancy, Carl’s great-niece, standing there with a broad smile on her face.
“I am so proud of you all,” she said as I handed her the replica Around the World pennant which we had carried from Dublin. “Our family has all been ministers, professors and the like, and Uncle Carl broke the mould by becoming an adventurer.
“You and Dr Frazier are not only men in the same mould, but probably know more about Uncle Carl than any of us, and you have honoured him by recreating his incredible journey with one just as incredible. Thank you.”
And so, at last, having carried the boots of Carl Stearns Clancy around the world, armed with his twin mottos that you should never believe what you hear, or take anything for granted, we handed them over at last to Dr Gregory Frazier with respect and pride at having followed in the tyre tracks of such a fine man.
I hoped, as I handed them to Dr G with not a little sadness, that they had had the time of their lives for the second time.
If boots could talk, I think they’d be very pleased indeed, and I hoped that we had made a pair of old boots very happy.