Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

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Cheshire Cat
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Posts: 86
Joined: 26 Oct 2011, 20:00

Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

Post by Cheshire Cat » 05 Jun 2015, 12:31

On Tuesday 26th May, I had what is becoming my annual Tube Challenge, relocated from August because of the Vicky closure. Although I'd been planning it for months, I only decided on the final route a couple of days before, because I'd had a few bursts of inspiration over the previous week. I had four different routes, all with the same theoretical finish time and in the end I went for the one that was probably the most different to previous ones, partly because it had the most slack in it and partly because it just felt right.

Monday I had a very pleasant day, driving down gently on the A roads and revisiting old haunts before I had a few hours scouting the changes I'd never done before. I have to say I didn't feel as fired up as I have on previous attempts, partly because of things happening in RL. Indeed, I very nearly didn't come. At least it meant I wasn't too excited to sleep this time.

As I sat on what becomes the 05:02 from T4, there were two big questions in my head: would this first train behave itself and would I be able to make up time the way I did last year? The answer to the first was an emphatic YES and we hurtled out of the station as if, well, we had a train to catch. Heathrow all went perfectly, even though I always find it slightly disconcerting having to wait around. One just hopes no-one heeds those posters that say 'report anything suspicious' or I could imagine having my collar felt! At last I was on my way down the Picc. Bang on time at Hammersmith with a District about a train length behind us. Perfect change at Barons Court...and then we just sat there for several minutes before eventually sauntering down to W Ken. The route was planned on getting the 06:25 from Olympia, but I'd kind of hoped I might make the 06:15. It now being 06:07, this seemed unlikely (I'm not a runner), but I gave it a shot anyway. It was 06:15 as I approached Olympia Way, but no sign of the train. It eventually left at 06:22 (Yes it was definitely the 06:15 – it was going to HSK). This meant I was a little ahead of schedule, but not as much as I might have been. The next few changes went well, but when I got to Woodford I found rather than the slack change in my itinerary, I had just missed the previous loop. Still, it meant I had time to get some breakfast and have a comfort break. As I got to Leytonstone, I thought to myself: “You know, I'm sure I could get the earlier Overground” so I legged it (well, it would be sauntering for most of you, but it was fast for me!) and I did, even though it was a minute early. So I was 15 mins up – very welcome since I had a tight connection for MHE. Somewhere on the Vic – Highbury maybe? - the doors beeped and someone made a running jump from the passageway. Maybe ten feet behind her was someone else who hurled himself onto the train, propelling her onto it much further and faster than she'd intended. A bit rude, I thought! A 307 arrived almost as soon as I got to the stop at Oakwood and I had a very smooth journey to High Barnet. We arrived in Finchley C just as the Shuttle was coming in off the branch. Perfect.

I spent the rest of the morning finishing off the north. On arrival at Edgware, it said the branch I wanted was ready to depart. Leg it and try and catch it? Nah – time for lunch! Then it was off down to the south and east, doing this bit in a very different way to previously. All went very smoothly and (by luck rather than judgement) my new transfers proved to be very short and easy ones. At Upminster I played Platform Roulette and lost. There was a District on the platform adjacent to my arrival one, but it couldn't be that because it was empty. Of course it was and it left just as I was on my way to search for the right one. Still, I got a perfect connection onto a Circle at Aldgate, so it didn't harm me too much. Having initially gained a lot of time, I spent much of the afternoon hovering at about 30-40 minutes in front, partly because this time I wasn't scared to stop for refreshments. I had a five minute wait for a tram at Morden Road partly because of this. And why does the walk from Morden station to the roundabout seem shorter than it does in the other direction? I've noticed this on a couple of other links too!

As the evening peak started, it was down the H&C and out west. This was much less crowded than what I did at this time last year. There were only a couple of trains which were crush loaded and I was only on these for one stop. It all felt really slow though and I seemed to be slipping behind. As we approached Uxbridge, I realised I'd actually gained a bit more and even better, there was a U1 due. We crawled into the station – surely I'd miss the bus? No – it was there waiting as I exited the station. As I left W Ruislip I was now exactly an hour ahead of schedule.

I got a Queens Park train on the Bakerloo, but there was an Overground just behind us. Last time I'd done this it had been in the dark, but the combination of being early and closer to the solstice meant it was daylight, which felt nice. Just enough time to buy a drink at H&W before the DB to Kenton. A reasonable DB to Preston Rd and then I caught a Chesham to Moor Park, because the DMIs at Preston Rd didn't say anything useful. There was a Watford 3 minutes behind us. So there I was: sat on the train I needed, 21:30, and only 8 stations to go...and at this point it all started to get a bit naff. The problem with a Met finish is having to predict where you'll need your car to be. Last year I parked at Chesham but ended up having to get a taxi from Amersham because I'd got a lucky zero minuter. This time I was aiming for Amersham, but being ahead of schedule meant I either needed another zero minuter or I'd have a half hour wait. You can guess what happened: we left Watford late, ambled down to Moor Park and got held at a signal. Inevitably, the Chesham shot past as we made our way into the station. So: what to do? Swapping the finish didn't seem to save me much time and I'd then need a taxi to Amersham only to drive back the same way minutes later, so that didn't appeal. Aborting was tempting, but that would leave me still without a completion (having done Olympia by Southern last year). So I gritted my teeth and waited half an hour for the next Chesham. As we pulled into Chalfont, they switched the destination. Apparently the train I'd missed had not been in as big a hurry to leave Chesham as it had been in to get there and was still on the branch. With a Chiltern on our tail, they wanted us out of the way. So it was yet another half hour wait. Finally got to Amersham and to top it all, my stopwatch had completely reset itself! So, final completion time is 18:48:00 (rounded up slightly to be on the safe side).

I ought to have been feeling ecstatic at this point, but I just wanted to get home and was very aware I had a long drive ahead of me. I'd been fantasising about eating something savoury and hot and generally not the rubbish you have with you on the challenge since at least the Bakerloo, but there didn't seem to be any takeaways open in Amersham. Even the gigormous Tesco in Hemel shuts at midnight, much to my surprise, so I had to resort to McDonald's. Not somewhere I'd go normally – I didn't even know what to order or how to order it – but it was the scrummiest meal I've ever tasted.

A couple of things puzzled me through the day: How come shops stay open so late (eg midnight) but don't open early? There were plenty of people around at 5am and yet many stores didn't open until 8. And are Londoners a bit nesh? There I was in a t shirt and regretting not having worn shorts and everyone else was in jumpers and coats and even scarves! I know it's hot under ground, but even on the surface I was warm! Weird!

The logistics seemed to work well this time, partly because I wasn't afraid to stop for something to eat. I seemed to keep myself much better fed and watered, with the result that whilst I felt tired the next day, I didn't feel downright grotty like I did last time. I used a completely different set of toilets to last time, although they are universally disgusting (with the exception of the ones at Wimbledon which are presumably the responsibility of Network Rail).

So...next time? Well, the part of me which sits on a Tube for 18 hours is saying 'No!' very firmly, but the bit which likes chuntering over timetables and maps has already reached for the highlighter pen! IF I do go again, I think it will have to be something radical eg Edgware – Stanmore which in turn might mean doing 269+1. Having had one proper completion, I'm not too bothered about doing Olympia by the book again.

[Nigel, can you do the honours please: 26/5/2015 Tom Funnell 18:48:00]
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

palkanetoijala31

Re: Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

Post by palkanetoijala31 » 05 Jun 2015, 12:53

a very good write up I feel though nigel wont put up the time because u didn't follow the purist rules!

Cheshire Cat
Zone 2
Posts: 86
Joined: 26 Oct 2011, 20:00

Re: Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

Post by Cheshire Cat » 05 Jun 2015, 13:08

I did follow the purist rules this time - 06:15 Olympia (delayed to 06:22). It's last time and (probably) next time I didn't.
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

palkanetoijala31

Re: Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

Post by palkanetoijala31 » 05 Jun 2015, 20:42

Cheshire Cat wrote:I did follow the purist rules this time - 06:15 Olympia (delayed to 06:22). It's last time and (probably) next time I didn't.
ah apologies i was reading ur signature

Cheshire Cat
Zone 2
Posts: 86
Joined: 26 Oct 2011, 20:00

Re: Second attempt 1st completion 26/5/15

Post by Cheshire Cat » 05 Jun 2015, 21:57

Woops! hadn't updated it!
Metrolink 91 stations 6:27:01
FNC: 18:48:00

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