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Post by DavidC » 04 Nov 2016, 21:12

It's time for another hopefully-inspirational post from a fiftysomething participant who merely walks briskly and on weekdays wears a suit. Earlier this evening (a weekday) I completed the Docklands (DLR) Challenge in 2h13m52s. This was my first completion and roughly what I was aiming for but it still came as a pleasant surprise when it actually happened, and finding that it apparently gives me a top-ten placing was a real shock. I know some parts of the DLR fairly well and had also checked out a couple of other bits, but this was the first time I had visited all of the stations.

In summary, the approach that worked for me is anchored around the only non-DLR bit : the Southeastern train from Lewisham to Woolwich Arsenal. There are some fiddly bits at the western end, and around Stratford, and ensuring West India Quay is visited, and coping with interchanges at Canning Town, but that all pales into insignificance compared to the leap between the two southern branches. I only repeated two short sections : Shadwell/Bank and Stratford International/Stratford.

I began by getting soaked walking from my office to Tower Gateway. I chose to start there because of being in control of the lower frequency than the Bank branch. Cross-platform at Shadwell soon saw me at Bank, and cross-passageway had me immediately heading off to Westferry on an undesirable Lewisham service simply to load the odds in my favour (of the additional chance of a service from Tower Gateway) rather than just waiting at Bank for a direct service to Canning Town. I'm pretty sure it worked and I therefore had a leisurely seven minute stroll through the annoying interchange that is Canning Town to the other platforms before heading to Stratford International.

On a previous visit I had been pleasantly surprised to find that it was far easier to double back than skirt Westfield on foot as platforms 16/17 and 4 are unexpectedly fairly close together despite the numbering. I quickened my pace to ensure that I caught an earlier-than-expected service to Canary Wharf that kept open an option for an even shorter time, but that was not to be.

Terminating in the middle bay at Canary Wharf in slightly over an hour was pleasantly in line with expectations and missing a cross-platform change for a Lewisham train from the western branch by about fifteen seconds had always been quite likely since I had seen it skipping West India Quay ahead of us beforehand. Thinking positively, at least that saved me from a later stressful dash upstairs at Lewisham which I subsequently saw online would have been fruitless anyway.

A relaxed arrival at Lewisham was mildly enlivened by a revenue protection check and learning that there's a small but annoying mismatch between the canopy and the staircase that only matters when it is raining. And it was indeed raining. I had aimed for a pair of services to Woolwich Arsenal only ten minutes apart. The first had unsurprisingly gone but, annoyingly, the second was delayed by a late-running service on the other Dartford branch in-between. The theoretically-good leap between the two stations was still decent, but a few minutes late and a couple of minutes slower than expected, which made me worry about easily dropping a long way down the table if things went badly at Woolwich Arsenal.

My lack of detailed knowledge of the Woolwich Arsenal interchange caused some stress. I somewhat-nervously omitted the back-staircase-and-along-the-road interchange and followed the DLR signs. I was genuinely impressed by the integration between Southeastern and DLR but then chose the wrong set of stairs which left me at the end of a long platform with a shortish DLR train far away in the middle ready to depart. Fortunately the train attendant showed me pity and allowed me to exert myself enough to leap aboard just in time.

After that it was a boring run to Canning Town and an unexpectedly-crowded transfer to the other platforms again in reverse. The evening rush hour was building and I was immensely relieved to make it to the Beckton train in time despite a perfectly reasonable theoretical window. From there it was another boring stretch to Beckton on a dark and wet evening to end in 2h13m52s before immediately heading back to the City and a train home.

So, a pleasant surprise at how it was possible to achieve a decent Docklands placing primarily by working around a pair of candidate weekday Southeastern trains. Email to follow.

First to 100000 in the 2015+ Tumbleweed contest. Winner of a few rounds of a diverse range of quizzes/games. Some decent times in alternative challenges as a fiftysomething who merely walks briskly.

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Re: DC's DC

Post by DavidC » 23 Feb 2020, 21:56

Where did those three years go? And how did all those people bump me so far down the list? Ah well, I'm delighted to be able to (doubtless-temporarily) resume a top-ten placing based on 2.06.23 on Friday 21 February 2020.

Last time my route included the somewhat-eccentric Lewisham to Woolwich Arsenal Southeastern manoeuvre that Geoff kindly mentioned recently. This time I went for a more traditional approach from Lewisham to Bank involving the 474.

I'm now even more of a fiftysomething and I still only walk briskly and I still wear a suit on weekdays (albeit without a tie). I have dabbled a bit since 2016, but not much until quite recently (when DLR signal problems ... twice ... made me regret bothering). However, the planets aligned on Friday inasmuch as I can realistically expect.

It was slightly after 10am when I started at Lewisham. The half term crowds briefly concerned me, but they largely departed for the Cutty Sark at, er, Cutty Sark. I was too late for a direct service to Stratford, but the change at Canary Wharf to the centre train went well. My proactive use of online live train information meant a more relaxed transition than usual at Stratford: the train to Stratford International was far enough away to enable me to stroll but near enough (and with no worthwhile alternative payback) to discourage transit above ground.

Just over the hour to Woolwich Arsenal was followed by a same train bounce back to King George V. On recent trial occasions I have been amused by the infinite loop reference at KGV to "Woolwich Arsenal via London City Airport", but I was too focused to hear it this time (or maybe it happened before my train arrived).

KGV involved my greatest exertion based on the estimated timing of the next 474 at North Woolwich Police Station. After the hassle of hurriedly departing the annoyingy-exhausting small station, I was soon able to relax as seeing the distant queue of lorries from a recent ferry arrival meant there was no danger of missing the bus. And then, after I neared the road junction, the lorry queue dissipated in time for the 474 to smoothly turn onto the main road. This timing made a real difference to my final time.

Then came the most exciting bit. In the context of this being the Tube Challenge Forum and you bothering to read this forum, that is :-)

I wonder whether the recent references elsewhere involve a clever Mediterranean diversion rather than use of GR? Suffice to say that an extra thirty seconds may have led me to go for it at the copper island, especially because of the easier same-side transition from the 474 in that direction, but I am glad that I didn't attempt it: the lack of anyone getting off or on the 474 meant the bus passed by the allegedly-compulsory stop unchecked exactly as the train appeared. Runners might have made it if they had previously rung the bell, but a brisk walker like me probably wouldn't have. So, I didn't regret staying on the bus per se ... but I did then spend a painful few minutes wondering whether I would make the transition from Beckton Bus Station to the DLR station in time to catch the bounce back of the unit that I had just seen.

Well, thankfully I did, despite mediocre timing of the bus arrival at the Beckton traffic lights and a fairly slow circuit of the bus station. Slight exertion and jaywalking led me to arrive as the unit was pulling in. This was soon followed by a fairly quick departure towards (thankfully) Tower Gateway rather than the Spaghetti Junction that is Canning Town.

From TG I went for the simple approach of waiting to bounce back to Shadwell. A Tower Gateway train was there as I arrived but it wasn't long before a Bank train arrived. A spirited (train) run led to me setting foot on Bank platform at 2.06.23, which I am very happy with as a fiftysomething who only walks briskly (apart from when leaving KGV).

I am unlikely to achieve a faster time unless I start to run, but I am very pleased to have learned more about the pros and cons of various Beckton-related options. I also love the LCY runway view from the Bascule Bridge!

Email to tangy to follow.

First to 100000 in the 2015+ Tumbleweed contest. Winner of a few rounds of a diverse range of quizzes/games. Some decent times in alternative challenges as a fiftysomething who merely walks briskly.

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Re: DC's DC

Post by tintin » 05 Mar 2020, 20:04

As one of those who beat your original time (and am still ahead of your new time) I think the 474 is a risky strategy. A bus which runs only five times an hour, and which can take 20 minutes to get to Beckton if the traffic's bad, could kill your attempt dead.

You're right that it is never faster to run between Stratford and Stratford International though - I did that on my second attempt and then realised the train I boarded at SI hadn't reached Stratford when I started my run.
Tramlink: 2:07:14 (301219)
DLR: 1:56:33 (130320)
South of the River: 2:05:58 (050220)

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Re: DC's DC

Post by DavidC » 06 Mar 2020, 22:00

Thanks tintin. I think you trigger really interesting thinking about our diverse individual goals and motivations.

For me, achieving a top ten placing in any challenge is something that I am personally pretty proud of ... and, realistically, likely to be satisfied with.

In that context, my very high placing for South London underground stations is especially pleasing ... albeit immediately tempered by recognising that the challenge is quite unpopular. I am, however, genuinely very pleased with my deliberate use of the fast Richmond to Putney service to optimise the Kew Gardens/Richmond/Putney segment regardless of the overall outcome.

As for the Docklands Challenge, I have several feelings.

Firstly, I am delighted that Geoff recently mentioned my rather unusual 2016 Lewisham-Woolwich manouevre.

Secondly, I am happy with how I originally wrote up that journey and with the then outcome, making the top ten at that time.

Thirdly, this time around I am obviously delighted with regaining a top ten position.

Fourthly, I am also personally pleased to have learned much more about the detail of the KGV/Cyprus/Gallions Reach/Beckton area options, even though I have consciously chosen not to pursue GR options and didn't actually implement a Cyprus option.

Then there's the most generic topic of all. To me, there's a big difference between trying a route with a tightly-bounded inevitable outcome versus repeatedly trying a route with significant potential variability until the wonderful day that the planets align.

I totally agree with tintin's comments about the 474 option, and my own narrative recognises some of the potential downsides. But, for me, when it works it works well ... or at least well enough for me. I probably won't try Docklands again in a hurry [ambiguous phraseology!] because I am happy to rest on my personal laurels.

I also appreciate tintin's comment about the S/SI/S approach: realtime monitoring is very valuable.
First to 100000 in the 2015+ Tumbleweed contest. Winner of a few rounds of a diverse range of quizzes/games. Some decent times in alternative challenges as a fiftysomething who merely walks briskly.

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Re: DC's DC

Post by RJSRdg » 07 Mar 2020, 12:05

DavidC wrote:
06 Mar 2020, 22:00
I probably won't try Docklands again in a hurry [ambiguous phraseology!] because I am happy to rest on my personal laurels.
Remember though, it's one of the rounds of summer Tube Olympics...
Currently 4th place in the Bottle Challenge league table
Currently 3rd place Zone1/Zone 2 Challenge

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