Well, actually, first of all I returned my UL library book, and got my UL card activated for the Betty and Gordon Moore Library, but then I went down to London (waiting at Cambridge station for the best part of half an hour, because Network Rail Card discounted tickets aren't valid before 10am on weekdays). In a bit of a surprise I got stopped by a BTP officer inside the barriers at LKX tube, who wanted to see the expiry date on my Railcard (presumably having noticed me waving it around whilst I crossed the barriers).
We met up, as intended, at Oxford Circus tube station, between the old station frontage and the Argyle Street exit (Photo) amid a lot of banter and
so, that's what you look like!(and some
where's the mask then?and
want to buy a CD?). Jack Welsey then proceeded to pull the starting station out of the hat and refrained from announcing Amersham!, but instead a more plausible St. James' Park (hmm, did anyone actually check that the other strips didn't also read St. James' Park?) and, after a few photos, we all buggered off in that direction; which led to a little confusion among those of us who never leave the tube system (leave the tube system??) at Oxford Circus as the signs in the intersection corridors and those hanging from the ceiling are contradictory – I should pop down with a camera and produce evidence for this. Still, Full Metal Anorak and I managed to make the first train out despite ending up on the wrong platform entirely (that was the plan, honest!), and I was able to apply the extensive knowledge of Victoria Tube that I've picked up over time (why can I never find a direct route from the Vicc'y line to the Mainline station?) to be the first one on the District/Circle platforms, and then immediately the train which had already pulled in – good practice here!
Then we waited for 30 minutes, and some people made up their routes (I had mine, start by returning to Victoria, which I'd scouted out the optimal place to be on the train for in the brief seconds I'd had on the platform just before), namely just behind the last carriage on a Circle line train (you can see the problem here). The plan was that we'd all start out at approximately the same time, on the first trains after 1pm, but in practice Geoff and Neil started us out a bit early, and I got on a District train (since sitting beyond the last carriage is a bit of a pain!) along with practically everyone else. About half of us detrained at Victoria for one reason or another, and a still smaller group headed off southwards to get Vauxhall out of the way.
I then left the pack at Vauxhall, racing out of the station I probably know 4th or 5th best, thanks to it being the eptimal route to Leatherhead in the early morning, and had to remember that I wanted Platform 7 not 8 (or 9.75). Fortunately this was made easy by the fact that the train was pulling in just as I crested the staircase, giving away the fact that it was Waterloo bound (Vauxhall, being practically at Waterloo, doesn't advertise Waterloo-bound trains on its display screens!), then I got 4.5 minutes rest on the train as we pulled into Waterloo. I believe three other groups took the mainline solution to the Vauxhall Problem, one other this way (but later) and two in the reverse direction.
Waterloo has to be one of my least favourite stations in the tube-running regard, and I had the bad luck to come out at a rightmost platform, so I had to go the entire length of the station to get to the Bakerloo (for Elephant and Castle), but from here everything proceeded like clockwork as I stepped onto every platform just as the train arrived (giving me just long enough to hop into the carriage I wanted rather than the nearest one). London Bridge, Waterloo again (just passing through!), Westminster, probably my favourite of the JLE stations, because it is all Wide Open Spaces, but they've still built the Jubilee platforms in the same county as the original District/Circle ones, and then out along the southern Circle to Embankment where the most stressful bit of the route came in, three changes in under 10 minutes to run out to Charing Cross and back on the Northern line. If my luck hadn't held out that could well have been more like 20. What's better I returned to Embankment to find a District on the platform (weasily weaconised by being "Also Available In White") which took me out to Aldgate East for the Aldgate dash.
Aldgate, on the other hand, and even if you're waiting for a northbound train, is utter boredom; and my first long wait of the day (while sitting on a Metropolitan train). When I've done this in practice a Circle has turned up in the meanwhile and it's a hasty detrain to get to the Circle which will inevitably come out first. The Met takes me up to Kings Cross, where I curse as I remember that this means I have to run around the building works in the wrong direction (if I come at this in the opposite direction then there's an easy cut through to the SSL platforms, but the barriers there are one way only). "'scuse me, 'scuse me, SORRY, 'scuse me, 'scuse me, phew that BTP isn't still here, now which line did I want? oh, ****, Northern".
The Northern line southbound from Kings Cross feels execrably slow, even since the speed restrictions were removed, and it's quite depressing to realise that you're about to pass through Moorgate for the second time (offer up a quick prayer for the souls of those killed in rail accidents) before coming screeching into Bank (and the line around here still doesn't sound healthy), at which point it's back to maddashrush mode to get onto the Central westbound to Holborn, then southbound on the Piccadilly.
Wait, I almost forgot Russell Square! And there's a train there! Run! Phew. All these people are looking at me, oh well.
Run again at Russell Square and just catch the next Southbound train.... And relax. Next hurdle is Knightsbridge where I try and get a bus to take me down Sloane Street; a manoever that doesn't pay off this time as we get caught for two cycles at the same traffic light and I could just about have walked it faster (I can't run a whole kilometer at this point in the event, and it's a bad way to set me up for the rest of it anyway). Then to cap it all I miss a train because someone gets in my way on the way down to the platform "on the right please!"
It goes downhill from here. At least the next train is a District, which takes me to Earl's Court. Where there are no Wimbleware trains in sight (I don't in fact see a single one all day), so after a 6 minute wait I get on an Olympia shuttle up to High Street Kensington (the standard District stock isn't allowed to run past there with passengers, so they use the same stock for the Wimbleware as they do for the Hammersmith and City and some of the Circle services) and wait another 6 minutes to get a Circle to Bayswater. Once at Bayswater I should've carried on and reversed the rest of my route, but I didn't know that I was going to be waiting with Peter Miller for 8 minutes before a train arrived to take us back towards Notting Hill Gate and the last legs.
Queensway (shut), Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus (hey, we started out here! I've now visited it on all three lines...), Tottenham Cou... jump out here and go Northern ...rt Road, Goodge Street (what, run to here?, are you mad), Warren Street, Euston, oh dear, get out here, run&hellip ahh a gap in the traffic, dodge across the road&hellip no I don't want whatever you're selling, but have a good day anyway, I hate the entrance to this station,not designed with flow in mind!
Brief hop on the Circle to Great Portland Street (barely time to sit down, but I did), run to Russell Square (shortest outdoor trip on my route, but still two roads to cross) and get delayed by three young asians filling up the corridor.... Bakerloo north, girding loins to run across Paddington station and fail to miss any Hammersmith and City trains. One of the irritating things about the H&C at Paddington is the lack of platform indicators. Sit on the platform, update my documentation, turn my phone on, discover that </a></b></a>claroscuro's passed her driving theory test, text her back and them scramble onto the train. Only 6 minutes (could've been much longer). Sit on floor to avoid collapsing. Go "yay!" as I pass Edgware Road, and hit the "stop" button on the stopwatch when the doors open.
Then to the Pub, via Great Portland Street Again. It's obvious when I get there that I haven't won – there are too many people there already for that, particularly since I've ended at a reasonably close station, turns out I've come 14th (was originally 13th, but Jack misrecorded The Theydon Boys time, so it got corrected :) out of 18th; not a bad result, but I'll want to do better in future!
The official write up can be found here, along with everyone's routes and photos.
As it comments in my entry, I felt a little restless after a while in the pub, and departed to try another challenge, this time one that I'd had up my sleeve for the practice day but hadn't used because I was collapsing – the "travel on all 12 tube lines in the shortest possible time" one. Neither attempt was a record, but they were both respectible times on either side of 65 minutes, the outwards bound one suffering from bad luck, the return from the fact that I appear to have gained myself a groin strain (that is, a little muscle used for holding the leg on in the groin area is strained) during the day, and also started to run into the smaller service frequency of the evening. I think getting a record on the route is plausible (I'd like to start out at the Shadwell end at the beginning of rush-hour for an optimal, I think), but I'm looking into better routes.
As to the full zone 1 I'm now thinking about Project Dollis to automatically generate a route for me for next time...
I might even have a go at all 275 stations some time, but that's going to be a pain until they sort Heathrow out...