Cheshire Cat Rides Again

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Cheshire Cat
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Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by Cheshire Cat » 17 Aug 2014, 18:34

I'm on annual leave, the hotel's booked and the route's planned. I shall be at Terminal 4 bright eyed and bushy tailed on Thursday morning (21st August) for my first serious attempt (I have had one go before, but circumstances dictated that it was rather half-cock). Don't worry folks - I don't have a sub-fifteen hour time. I just want a completion. Counting down the sleeps!
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

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tractakid
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Re: Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by tractakid » 17 Aug 2014, 19:14

Very best of luck. :)
*insert boasting about notable tube accomplishments here*

Cheshire Cat
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Re: Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by Cheshire Cat » 22 Aug 2014, 09:30

269½ (had to do Olympia by Overground) in 18:48:24.

Full report to follow.
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

Cheshire Cat
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Re: Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by Cheshire Cat » 22 Aug 2014, 12:44

Our tale starts on Wednesday night when I parked at Chesham and made my way down to Feltham for the hotel, stopping at Waterloo's Jubilee ticket hall for my ticket for next day en route.
“1-9 PEAK?” said the incredulous clerk. “Cor! I don't think I've ever sold one of those before! It's a lot of money – keep it safe!”

Eight and a half hours later, I was stood on Feltham bus station, waiting for a bus which was late enough to give me the jitters, but not late enough to make me miss by Tube. To be on the safe side, I got out at Hatton Cross and caught the tube which forms the outward service. So: 5:02 and something seconds came, the doors buzz, I press my stopwatch and we set off round the loop to T1-3, S-L-O-W-L-Y. By the time we got to Central, the connection had gone. Bye bye, Olympia! Bugger! When I finally got to T5, the train into town was equally lethargic. Still, I suppose it gave me plenty of time to come up with Plan B! What should I do? Abandon completely? Try and catch one of the other Olympia trains? Use the Overground? The trouble was, I 'd managed to leave my sheet with all the Olympia times &c on at home. In any case they didn't tie up easily with my route and I didn't feel up to rejigging the whole damn thing to get a specific train, particularly as I hadn't had any breakfast yet. I had a vague idea that one of the 'as requireds' runs at fourish, which was about the time I was passing (it turns out it only runs to Olympia, not from it), so I decided to stick to my planned route and try and do Olympia when I was coming down the Wimbleware, and if not, take the Overground.

I was, as you can imagine, feeling a bit hacked off at this point, but I had swift changes on and off the District to take out West Ken and Gloucester Rd and I was finally whizzing out to Cockfosters with a driver who actually knew how to get a wiggle on. I was now back on my planned schedule (or possibly one Picc train behind), albeit without Olympia.

The day breaks into four chunks: The morning, doing the rest of the Big Three, was frustrating. It wasn't that I had bad luck, just never quite enough good luck. I stayed on schedule, but kept narrowly missing the chance to get ahead. We waited for quite a while outside Cockfosters for a platform, which I think cost me a bus. The one I finally caught made good speed to High Barnet and I got to Finchley C in time to see the doors on the MHE shut. Made good use of the new ginnel at Walthamstow, in time to see the Goblin pull out. Got a bus two stops up Leytonstone High Road, but it didn't get me a Loop ahead (again, I think I might have just missed one). What do to at Leytonstone? There was a big wait for the next Loop, but of course my timings for the 'what ifs' were on the wretched piece of paper at home. I risked it and went up to Epping. You guessed it, I narrowly missed the zero minuter (my fault this time – I'd have made it if I'd been in the front carriage). It didn't matter though – when we got to Woodford the Loop was the next train. I was pleased with myself for sitting at the southern end of the train, before realising that by the time we'd been round the loop, it would be the northern end! :oops: Reasonable connection at Leytonstone and I was on my planned train out to Ruislip.

And then my luck changed. I caught a U1! I was therefore a train up at Uxbridge, despite wasting time looking for my ticket. I eventually found it in my bag (how it got in there, I don't know – I don't even remember opening it!), but only after buying a replacement. Lightening db to W Harrow and I was a Picc ahead. And so it continued – I'd get a train ahead of myself which gave me a sexy change at the next place, which gave me an even sexier change at the next one. By the time I got to Edgware Rd, I was half an hour up on schedule! Got a Borismaster from HSK to Olympia. Gosh, what awful buses! An exterior which rivals early Atlanteans for blandness and an interior from the nineteen fifties. What's with rear-facing seats and all that drab maroon? Still, I suppose it's better than the seventies style orange moquette on the Overground! The official Olympia station bus stop is opposite Addison Road, which seems a bit far off. Probably should have stayed on one more stop (or maybe I got off early – I leaped off the rear platform as soon as Sonia intoned 'Kensington Olympia'). Never mind, only seven minutes to wait for a Southern, which I didn't think was bad given I was doing this off the cuff, and I even managed to buy a yummy hot pasty and bottle of drink en route! At Wimbledon, I was still ten minutes up, despite having done Olympia.

I was starting to hit the evening peak now, so there was no chance to make up time. I hit West Ham badly – I'd just missed one C2C and the next one didn't stop at Upminster. The third was the one I was supposed to be getting anyway, so I took a chance and got the District instead. It partially paid off – I got a return C2C within a couple of minutes, but it didn't stop at W Ham, so I had to change at Barking. Swift connection there, though. Too swift – I'd been looking at the coffee stall hopefully! :( The Aldgate run and lower Circle was the one bit of my route I'd never recce'd. I'll know to come out on the other side of the road at Aldgate East next time. Anyway, caught a Circle that was about to depart. In hindsight, perhaps this was the wrong time of day to do this bit! So crowded! Still, I was soon heading down to Brixton away from the crowds. I think the driver was the twin of the one on the T4, but had super sexy changes at Stockwell and Elephant and was heading north again.

Suddenly, at Edgware, I realised I was all but thirty minutes up. Quite how, I'm not sure! Back into town, looked longingly at the bakers on Baker St station (where else?) but daren't stop as I wasn't sure about trains out to H&W. My asceticism paid off – the next Bakerloo was a Queens Park, but an Overground came almost immediately, which gave me a good DB. Got supplies from an excellent Asian 'Superstore' on Kenton Road and I was on the Met at last, cursing LU for locking all its toilets at 9pm! I found this section rather eerie: no visible staff, no PA and the DMIs all had something generic and unhelpful on. Surely this is the time of night you need information and reassurance?

And then the realisation: five stops to go – it is going to take something cataclysmic to stop me now! :D Back down to Moor Park with one other guy on the train and wow! Late running Chesham on the other platform. Hastily swapped my finish – it meant a taxi back to the car but never mind! Welcome toilets at Chesham and again only one other person on the DB – and this one was sleeping! Nearly had the same luck at Chalfont – there was a late-running Amersham on the other platform. I might – just – have caught it, if the subway wasn't so cunningly camouflaged. Never mind. A couple of minutes wait and onto the incongruously full Chiltern up to Amersham. 18 hours, 48 minutes and 24 seconds, virtually an hour up on my (cautious) plan. Taxi back to Chesham, quick stop for Diesel in Hemel and I was off up the M1. The Woo Hoo Felling got me to at least Leicester, the clear motorway a pleasure to drive and at last I was getting into bed, pretty well exactly twenty-four hours after I'd left it.

REFLECTIONS:
Lows:
Realising at the second station of the day that it's not possible to get a proper completion.
I felt pretty hacked off mid morning: a lot of effort didn't seem to be getting me anywhere and the Tube Challenger's Bottom was beginning to kick in. I think it must be the seats on the Central trains – I didn't feel it as bad later on and I'm sure it's always been on the Central when its kicked in on recces. Neither did it kick in at all on Monday on a sortie around Lancashire by train.
Other than that, actually, there weren't any lows. Mid evening, which is the point I often bail out when messing about on trains, the realisation that I was on track to complete kept me going.

Logistics:
The battle to remain fed and watered. Food and drink outlets always seem to appear just when you daren't stop for fear of missing a train. Very few stalls (or even vending machines) within LU stations. There is a limit to how much you can carry with you. My bag was very heavy as it was, but at least it got lighter as the day progressed and I consumed the contents.
I found it impossible to choose what I needed to wear twenty-four hours and 150 miles distant from my starting point and again there is a limit to how many options you can carry with you. More by luck than judgement I got it right. The temperature was pretty ideal: it was a bit warm in the morning but pretty pleasant the rest of the day (apart from when underground for extended periods).

Tubefail:
I was only aware of two serious problems on the network: on the District near the start (I wondered why all the trains I could see were going to Wimbledon!) and on the Jubilee during the morning, neither of which affected me. The actions of the muppet on the T4 train weren't tubefail – he left T1-3 on time - but they were a pain for me. If I hadn't had to mess around with Olympia, not only would I have got a proper completion, but I'd have been a good twenty minutes earlier at West Ham, which would have given me a slicker connection to Upminster and who knows what that would have led to?

Next time...
1) I need a plan B for Olympia!
2) I liked getting the Big 3 (well, two of them!) done early.
3)It would be a good idea to do somewhere different in the evening peak.
4) Doing the north west corner last is very time inefficient, (but leaves me in a good location for driving home).
5) A support person would be ideal, especially if they could drive me to the start and then move the car to the finish, allowing a more timely decision on clothing.
6) When? Won't be for a long while - difficult to get three days in a row that are both work and child free. Perhaps I need to try and coincide Annual Leave and FART Week next year!

PS
Sorry – this report's far longer than I planned!
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

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andytube
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Re: Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by andytube » 23 Aug 2014, 20:22

Why not do the challenge on a Friday then you only need to take 2 days off work?
Hope you get a full 270 next time.
Current best: 19:51:10 (2014). Hopefully that will be broken in 2018 :-)

Cheshire Cat
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Re: Cheshire Cat Rides Again

Post by Cheshire Cat » 23 Aug 2014, 21:29

I work shifts, as does OH, so Saturdays are actually more problematic than weekdays.

Thanks for good wishes, Andy and Tractakid.

I meant to add that one thing that amused me was, at North Ealing, the juxtaposition of the advertising hording of the chap holding a sign saying desperate, just outside the gents loos. Such things keep one one cheerful on the challenge!
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

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