The Longest Day

Jon Jeffryes

Well boys, I’m back,

I’ve finally fulfilled a 25 year ambition to complete the Longest Day run, all 708 miles of it. Mind you, it was on the FJ1200A, not a CBX, but still worthy of a mention.

In October 1977, (UK) Motorcycle Mechanics Magazine carried ‘THE LONGEST DAY’ article. Four seasoned hacks, John Thorpe, Geoff Carless, Charles Deane and Derek Pickard choose four different bikes; the cream of the superbikes of 1977; and spent midsummer’s day covering their personal best mileage. Each were free to choose there own route and the choice of bike was down to the rider.

They all finished, none broke the law, all covered more than six hundred miles and I, at the tender age of 19 was hooked. Every year since, I’ve planned to go, but life always got in the way. Then 2002 came around, the 25th anniversary of the original run…just had to do it

The basics were, leave at sun up c.4.45am, fit the highest mileage trip in the hours of daylight, return to the point of departure by sundown c.9.31p.m. The only rules were start and finish on the same bike and apply the spirit of the law (no major speeding allowed).

So where did I go? Well, to be true to the original riders of 25 years ago, I followed the southern route covered by John Thorpe who was then the editor of Motorcycling Monthly Magazine. He covered the original trip on a (new) Goldwing K2 and it was his route I followed to the letter.

Out from Sussex, picking up the M23, onto the M25 and the M4, first stop at Leigh services for breakfast and a refuel. Then on to Lands End, arriving at 11.40 a.m. 21 minutes ahead of schedule.

I allowed myself the luxury of 40 minutes for lunch and a walk about. Gotta say I was mighty disappointed with the place. Not only was it blowing a gale and pissing down, the place is like Disneyland by the sea. It is so commercialised and spoilt, what a shame.

For the return journey, I allowed myself less than 50 miles of motorway, following the A30 up through Oakhampton and on to Exeter, joining the M27 through to Honiton and switching to the A31/A27 through to Poole and then Bournmouth.

I stopped for tea and carried on through to Chichister, picking up the a259 through Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Worthing, Brighton and then changing to the A26 at Newhaven. On towards East Grinstead, picking up the fast and swoopy A275, finally arriving home at 9.43 p.m. (delayed by road works on the outskirts of Crawley!) after 708 miles.

Throughout the trip I used nearly 18 gallons of fuel and averaged c.42mpg. The only problem was the instrument cluster bolts that had loosened slightly. Not even the chain needed adjusting, testament to the benefits of the Electronic autolube system fitted when I first purchased the bike. No oil was used.

The satisfaction of achieving the ambition that’s bubbled away for 25 years is enormous. Apart from the appalling weather (the rain finally stopped less than a hundred miles from home,) this was one of the most enjoyable journeys I have ever undertaken. Using a big capacity bike for the purpose it was designed, eating miles in total comfort and safety, there’s nothing like it.

Next year, I’ll take one of the other routes, maybe dinner in Edinburgh and tea in Wales is on the cards. Anyone care to join me?


Jon Jeffryes

91 Yamaha FJ1200A
88 Yamaha TDR250
78 Honda 400/4
Ex 88 CBX Bol D’or