First attempt – first completion!

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Peter
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First attempt – first completion!

Post by Peter » 08 Dec 2014, 14:36

I’ve just joined the forum, but have to confess I’ve been interested in the Challenge for at least a couple of years, and have found many of the posts, hints and tips here to be invaluable. I felt though that I didn’t want to join until I’d had a go, and had something to offer.
On Thursday last week (4th December) I made my first FNC attempt, and amazingly managed a completion. The time was slow (19:46:10) but I achieved my main goal – to get round all 270 in the day.

The route was a T4 start, Chesham finish. I did a lot of planning myself, but ultimately I used a tried and tested route published on this forum (by Andi I think) – no point in reinventing the wheel to get a first completion I thought. The Tube Exits iPhone app was also invaluable for planning, as well as Journey Planner obviously.

I’ve read from several on the forum that even after many attempts you always learn something each time, so here are my main highlights and things I learned:
• Starting from T4 I got the 06:15 District from Ken O with no problems, even knocking out West Kensington in the process, and after a smooth MHE connection by mid-morning I was 6 minutes ahead of plan and full of confidence that I knew what I was doing
• This is in contrast to later in the day when I was getting tired, was 50 mins behind plan and I learned that I’m prone to mistakes – eg. I took a wrong turning on the Kenton to Northwick Park run, despite having done it half a dozen times before
• I also learned that I need to be fitter! The ability to sustain a pacey run for half a mile or so would be invaluable - I‘m not as young as I used to be and tend to break down after about a quarter of a mile. Seb Coe could have been a great Tube Challenger…
• There were minor delays on the District to Upminster, and I learned I should have taken the c2c out and District back rather than the opposite – the trains tend to stack up going into a terminus whereas they are back to schedule earlier coming out
• The northern end of the Bakerloo also let me down, but a late running Overground from Queens Park came to the rescue and I only lost 10-15 minutes overall
• In the evening rush hour trains consistently ran slightly behind Journey Planner times. I guess it makes sense as there are more people and more trains than at other times, but I was finding I lost up to 3 minutes per train versus what I had planned despite no apparent hold-ups in the service
• The on-platform toilets at Northwick Park and Preston Road annoyingly close at 21:00 hrs, necessitating the use of an empty water bottle (another tip I’d learned from the forum – thanks)

The one secondary goal I didn’t achieve was to finish in Watford. Why would I plan that? Well until 2 years ago I lived directly opposite the station, and now live only 200m down the road. The old house was so close that I was kept awake in the late evening by the beeps from the Oyster barriers. I had the idea that I would step off my last train at Watford, punch the air in celebration at my completion, and then be home in less than 5 minutes with a beer in my hand! As it turned out I was running too late and had to knock out Watford before heading up to Amersham and Chesham. I did manage to get the last train back from Chesham to Rickmansworth though, so just a £10 taxi home for my beer.

Obviously I’m pleased with my first time completion, but intrigued as to how many others have completed in 2-3 hours less than me. I had maybe 40 minutes of delays total, I can see that faster runs could save 30 minutes or so, but where would the rest of the difference come from? Presumably it has to be in the route and the detailed planning. So back to the drawing board – I’m never going to break the GWR but would like to improve my time. Does that mean I’m hooked?

Thanks a lot, Peter.

PS. Before anyone asks I did Gloucester Road on the District Line even though Piccadilly would have been easier (but ‘illegal’)

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tractakid
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by tractakid » 09 Dec 2014, 00:30

Well done! A completion is a fantastic start to your tube challenging exploits.

You went the wrong way round to get the best chance at a good time- The NW corner is a nightmare to finish, as the frequencies are so low!

Faster times can simply be explained by faster running, better luck, and a better route/itinerary. And good reacting to when the plan gets messed up.

All the best for next time. Perhaps you should try the next time Olympia is receiving an Exhibition service, and do it the other way round, finishing at T5.
*insert boasting about notable tube accomplishments here*

Nigel
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Nigel » 09 Dec 2014, 07:11

Well done!

If you would like me to add you to the list of top times elsewhere on the forum, could you let me have your surname?

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Peter
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Peter » 09 Dec 2014, 10:21

Thanks tractakid. Indeed I am thinking of starting up here in the NW next time, although the frequencies aren't a lot better in the morning (I'm also looking at the Amersham/Chesham Bus no. 1 but haven't managed to plan that in effectively yet).
A big reason for following the T4 start route was to catch a morning Ken O service. Otherwise planning and execution become a lot more difficult around the few evening services. It would be great to have an Exhibition service running all day but from what I can see that hardly ever happens, and it's really difficult to find out when it will! Any tips on that one?

I'd definitely like a bit of that extra luck please!

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Iain
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Iain » 09 Dec 2014, 11:35

Congrats :D

NW corner trains aren't common in the morning, but you can pick your start to get the best out of it. Finishing there, a few minutes late to N Harrow and it can cost you half an hour

There's an expo service coming up from 16th-19th and 22nd :)
Full Network: Three completions, Best time: 17:18:18 - thanks Glen, Andrew and Rhys!
Former DLR 45 station record holder (with Glen, Andi and Stevo) - 2h:08m:57s
All lines: 46:11 (6th equal)
Zone One 2:52:51 (thanks Glen)

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RobbieM
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by RobbieM » 09 Dec 2014, 13:19

Well done. I'm a one-attempt, one-completion person myself. So I know the joy of completing on your first time. The trouble is, if I ever attempt another FNC and fail, my 100% success rate is smashed...
After you, madam - I'll wait for the next direct train to Mill Hill East.
(I really ought to change this; no-one understands it out of context.)
Personal record: 270 Stations in 9 minutes and 3 seconds

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andytube
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by andytube » 12 Dec 2014, 19:33

Well done. 5 minutes quicker than me :-) I know what you mean about needing to be fitter!

That NW corner is certainly not the best place to finish as I discovered. Had long delays there as it got late. Although will get there earlier next time. I really could only do an east to west route due to the need to drive home to Hampshire afterwards. Although I suppose Ken O played a major part in my decision as well.
Current best: 19:51:10 (2014). Hopefully that will be broken in 2018 :-)

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Peter
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Peter » 18 Dec 2014, 21:06

Iain, how do you know that re: Ken O?
The shuttle service you mention doesn't appear on Journey Planner and the only reference I can find on the tfl website is the Xmas festive travel guidance at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/monday-22-december-2014
Am I missing something? It would be nice to know when the services are scheduled to operate (days and times).

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Iain
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Iain » 20 Dec 2014, 11:11

It was on the TfL website I think, but it took a bit of finding. Or it could have been on a Freedom of Info request, I forget.

You've only got the 22nd left now but it's worth a shot.

I'll see if I can find the sheet with the scheduled times, although they can go off a bit in practice
Full Network: Three completions, Best time: 17:18:18 - thanks Glen, Andrew and Rhys!
Former DLR 45 station record holder (with Glen, Andi and Stevo) - 2h:08m:57s
All lines: 46:11 (6th equal)
Zone One 2:52:51 (thanks Glen)

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Iain
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Iain » 20 Dec 2014, 11:30

I think it's a link on the tube challenge chat forum on the thread "olympia shuttle", but I need to go out now :)
Full Network: Three completions, Best time: 17:18:18 - thanks Glen, Andrew and Rhys!
Former DLR 45 station record holder (with Glen, Andi and Stevo) - 2h:08m:57s
All lines: 46:11 (6th equal)
Zone One 2:52:51 (thanks Glen)

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Peter
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Peter » 20 Dec 2014, 12:35

Yep, you're right. Thanks. Found it here as a freedom of information request:
http://www.tubeforum.co.uk/forum/index. ... &start=420

Unfortunately I've been too busy to attempt again in December. Maybe in January, but it looks like I'll have to plan a route taking in an evening Ken O train in order to start in the NW corner. Feels risky but would be good to try a different route for a better time.

jbom
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by jbom » 22 Dec 2014, 22:18

Well done!

jimbob
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by jimbob » 30 Dec 2014, 14:57

Congratulations Peter, I managed a completion at second attempt in May this year and in 12 minutes quicker than you! :D Old style Amersham start, Upminster finish. Like you, it was a previous plan I did find on the web and tweaked for the 2nd attempt, based on lessons learned from the first. I was aiming for the 19:48 at Ken Oly so knew from quite a while before that whether I would make it or not. At 55+, running between the stations was never going to be an option, but I did manage a brisk walk from Ickenham to W Ruislip! First attempt in 2013 foundered at about 10 in the evening, tired and hungry and wet after it rained (but on schedule, perversely). Your other replies covered it; better plan, faster running for a quicker time. I am tempted to go again (!) Getting Ken Oly done early (or getting an exhibition service) makes the most sense, as I had to leave bits of time in reserve to give me the buffer for problems during the day and still be able to make the connection. Good luck with your next attempt!

Markdidcott
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Re: First attempt – first completion!

Post by Markdidcott » 02 Sep 2015, 19:04

Well done .i completed on my first and only attempt so far as well but i did it with 20 or so others and a few of them were pretty much experts (including the world record holder at the time ) we did it in 18h 13m 29sec and although i had the benefit of expert help im still very proud of it .

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