The One That I Didn't Quite Finish

So what happened? Well ... the first six hours of the day went like a dream. I was (on average) about fifteen minutes ahead of the scheudle, due to some amazing luck on the District Line. I'm not sure whether I caught a late running train which went in my favour, or if the timetable has changed, but quite early on I was making connections and getting trains several minutes ahead of my schedule.

This picture here (right) is somewhere quite early on, except I'm not saying where! Actually it's not that difficult to work out, but I do love a good sunset photo - or sunrise in case - so it was nice to get.

There was even an amusing moment when a District Line driver spoke to me whilst I was standing by the door of a train waiting to leave. I was getting confused because the display board was changing and showing conflicting information about what train was leaving next.

Then a train came in on the adjacent platform, and as he walked down from one end to the other to take it back out again he seemed confused (as I was) by the fact that the train that I was waiting on was there! According to the timetable, it shouldn't have been. "How long have you been there mate?", he asked. "Came in two minutes ago", I said "Do you know who's leaving first?". "No!" he said, and at that point, the driver of my train appeared, the two of them had a conversation and my train left first - early - allowing me to make an earlier connection than expected furthur up the line. Nice!

You're not alone

At Uxbridge later on, something most bizarre happened - I met some other challengers! Hello to Steve and Gary of who I knew about as I had been swapping emails with Steve over the past few weeks, and I knew that he would be out here doing it (but I didn't tell him that I had already planned the same day), but didn't expect that I would meet them as the chances of being in the same place at the same time are quite remote!

They told me that they had started at Chesham and that there they'd met two other people who had come down from Manchester who were doing it as well (although they might have just been doing a full 'recee' for the day).

So we swapped banter, and I even beat them on the run down from Ickenham to West Ruislip .. I made the Central Line train with about 60 seconds to spare ... they with about 20 seconds to spare!

So I'm still ahead of schedule - and this carried on all the morning, ahead all the time, getting some good connections and some not so good ones, but still averaging out so that I was about fifteen minutes up. I couldn't believe my luck. Would this hold out all day? Or would it go seriously wrong? Even if something went wrong now, surely being ahead would help, right?

Well, things did go wrong - come on, this is the tube we're talking about - and I'm becoming more convinced that the poor old system is becoming more and more unreliable as something seriously seems to go wrong almost every day.

This time it was a points failure at East Finchley. And it was right as I was due to go up that section on the Northern Line. I had to change at Camden Town, and was treated to a sign saying "Delays on the High Barnet Branch", and the display board telling me that it was eleven minutes for the next train (which was a Mill Hill East one which was a bonus). Either way, my time got eaten up.

Then I had a really bad bus connection at High Barnet when I eventually got there and wasted more time.

Note to all future challengers: Don't ever ever take the 384 bus. Hold out for 307, even if the 384 comes first. The 384 really does go all round the houses to get you to Cockfosters, and I shall never take it again!

Also, it had started to rain by this point, and I got seriously wet whilst waiting for the bus, which didn't do anything to lighten my mood.

Even so, I was still only a few minutes down, so I'm confident that things would be fine. Until I got onto the Central Line again. I fecking hate this part of the sytem now.

Delay of the Day

I went to Epping first (first train in, within a minute), but on the way back down to Woodford to change for the Hainault branch, the train sat outside the station not going anywhere for 5 minutes. Then .. a train going north went past - to Hainault! And to add insult to injury, the moment it went past, my train moved off and within seconds was pulling into Woodford.

I walked over the footbridge and asked the station assistant when the next train to Hainault was. "Oh you've just missed one" she said helpfully. Yes I bleeding well know that I thought .. and so then, as per last time has to wait 16 London Underground minutes for the next Hainault train to arrive, which was actually 19 minutes in reality.

The only nice part was that it was a 'straight through' service, (Got your number 118!), and at Hainault it changed into an Ealing Broadway train.

At Leytonstone coming down I thought I'd pulled a sneaky trick .. I changed trains to another southbound train on the adjacent platform, which left first leaving the train I had just been on behind. But! That then stopped! At Leyton station one down the line it waited for 8 minutes whilst "An incident on the line ahead is investigated" and all I could do was sit and wait.

So now I've lost loads of time and I'm comparing it to before. Well - it was better than my fifth attempt by about 10 minutes, but behind where I'd been on the fourth attempt, and a good 40 minutes behind the schedule.

I carried on, but it's pretty miserable doing it by yourself. I was logging all the times, taking photos, and trying to do it all at the same time is quite demanding. And there's no one to talk to, no one to help your morale or just banter with, and I was now starting to feel tired and bored. I think I decided then that if I knew I was going to be on the same train as Jack again or worse, then I wouldn't bother going to Amersham.

I'd only see the whole thing through if I thought I could beat the time. I wasn't bothered about doing all 275 stations just so that I could say that I had at least completed the system. There's no point in that anymore - I just want the record!

Then, as I was doing a run between two station in the afternoon, I felt that my right knee was quite painful - it was very stiff, but I ignored it and kept running.

About an hour later I checked my times and was then behind to the same extent that I had been on the previous attempt. Half an hour after that and due to a bad connection I was five minutes behind!

Then - the biggest problem of the day, and it was nothing to do with trains. It was to do with me!

Just what I didn't knee-d

I was doing another run between two stations just after 6.30pm, and my knee suddenly gave in on me. I stopped, in agony, and for a moment couldn't even walk without it hurting. I rested for a minute - found that I could walk, tried running again - and it was bloody painful. So it was then that I decided that it might just be wiser to retire.

If I'd have been ahead, or on schedule, then I think that the old pain barrier might have been ignored (and probably maybe done myself some permament injury!), but that would have been silly, and so maybe it was a good thing that I was still 40 minutes down as it helped make my mind up that it would be a good time to stop.

So.. after a couple of calls to some people, I jacked it in, and got the tube to my mainline station to take me home during the late evening rush hour at about 7 o'clock.

Even then, that was tricky as there had been a 'one under' at Kilburn earlier in the day, and a broken down train at Barbican, meaning that a lot of the services were a bit screwed up anyway.

I got the overground train back to my local station. Even then I couldn't even walk from there to home, so had to get a taxi!

I had a beer, a hot bath, and collapsed asleep, hating the tube.

The next morning, my knee is sore but better. I check my eMail. I get a message from Steve. They didn't make it either! They had terrible problems and also ducked out at about 8pm in the evening. "Might try again in November" he said.

"So might I!" I replied.

Tube 6 stats:

Stations visited: 172/275
Start time: 05:02.21
Finish time: 7pm-ish. Retired.
Time taken: Incomplete
Number of people: 1
Support team: 2

Other attempts:

Tube 1 | Tube 2 | Tube 3 | Tube 4 | Tube 5 | Tube 6 | Tube 7 (World Record)
Tube 8 | Tube 9 (Tube Relief) | Tube 10 | Tube 11 | Tube 12 | Tube 13 | Tube 14 | Tube 15 | Tube 16 | Tube 17 | Tube 18 | Tube 19 | Tube 20


Tube 6

Wedneday 11th September 2003

Six UndergroundI'm still not bored of doing it ... it's still possible. So on the 11th September (an ominous date I know), I found myself back at Heathrow at 5am in the morning.

But I went by myself, as I couldn't get anyone else to come with me ... are my friends slackers or what? Peter though very kindly did give me a lift to Heathrow in the morning, and came with me for a just a couple of stops, and then he left me.

I did though swap some rather surreal text messages with Ross (from the first attempt) - he was back home in New Zealand 12 hours ahead of me, and it was weird communicating with someone the other side of the world as you travel up the Piccadilly Line in the morning while it's still dark!

I did also have a lunchtime visitation from a couple of people including Jono who met me as per on Tube4 with some much needed lunch, but apart from that, and a few text messages to help me along the way, I was by myself.

Other Attempt Writeups:

Tube 1 | Tube 2 | Tube 3 | Tube 4 | Tube 5 | Tube 6 | Tube 7 | Tube 8 | Tube 9 | Tube 10 | Tube 11 | Tube 12 | Tube 13 | Tube 14 | Tube 15 | Tube 16 | Tube 17 | Tube 18 | Tube 19 | Tube 20

Station Master

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