The One With the Ice
With a very short amount of notice, Chris realised that he had a few days off between jobs and that we were both free on the Monday. Coupled with the fact that we discovered that there was an exhibition service running to Olympia, we took an old route - tweaked it a bit, and came up quite quickly with something on paper that worked.
Now we just had to test it out ... so it wasn't a real attempt, but a test day, right? Right.
It was cold, still cold .. and there was still lots of frozen ice on the ground from the snow over the past week.
We started in the top left hand corner at the latest time that I have ever started a challenge - here we bumped into the friendly Al who out on the network for the fifteenth time itself.
The day can be summed up quite simply: It was the worst day for the tube service that I have ever known in all my years of tube challenging. The utter worst. We couldn't have picked a more fucked up day if we tried.
The Evening Standard gleefully (but totally accurately) ran a story labelling it as a horrendous start of the week for commuters. I couldn't agree more.
The Metropolitan line started with severe days and no trains running past Harrow-on-the-Hill.
The whole of the Jubilee line was suspended and it wasn't until gone 9am that it started with 'Severe Delays'. It was still on 'minor delays' at 2pm in the afternoon.
The PIccadilly Line had a problem up at Uxbridge early on.
A Bakerloo Line train broke down at Baker Street and for a while the whole of the Bakerloo Line was suspended.
A 'Signal Failure' (Which could mean anything in TfL/LU speak) occurred at Parson Green, and the District was suspended between there and Wimbledon.
Another signal problem at Aldgate East affected the whole of the District, Circle and Met late in the afternoon, and they all went to 'Severe Delays'.
And that was not including the problem that we encountered ...
After starting 20 minutes after our scheduled time we carried on and got going. A late running Overground train got us a train back, an early change and we did connect onto an Olympia train at High Street Kensington.
Soon after we got onto the Central Line and got a good connection onto a Hainault Loop train. Those two things kept us going, as it was still touch and go to get a sub-17 hour time, which was my target.
But the the Central Line ('Good Service' advertised all the time) did not run well, and a delay on it costs us a crucial connection having a knock on effect to us missing our Mill HIll East train ... fifteen minutes down, at which point it was pointless to continue as we would never make the time back.
Chris & I retired to get some food and looked on in horror at the service pattern on the TfL webpage .. as at everypoint throughout the day there was something go wrong somewhere on the network. It was utterly terrible.
The only fun things were incidents that happened to Chris! He got recognised at Watford as 'The chap that supports all the world record people' and got let onto the platforms for free instead of having to pay for a Platform ticket.
He got chatting to a friendly Met driver who said that making the connection to his train might just be "The only good thing that he could do for people today seeing at the rest of the service was buggered".
My fitness held up really well which pleased me immensly, as I still undertook two lenghty runs, both of which I found easier than ever before. I'm continuing to do weekly Parkruns and getting 5K's under my belt, and come the spring and summer with warmer weather & lighter days, the fitness thing will make it happen.
I also had a nasty encounter with a big guy on a staircase. A whole load of people were walking up where a train had just tipped out, and I nipped up the outside, not immediately realising that this was a small channel left for people coming down the stairs. Just as I realised and started to move to one side, a guy about twice the width of me decided that he didn't like me jogging up the stairs in an oblivious state, and very firmly pushed me not once, but twice into my side, causing me to knock into the woman next to me. Outrageously rude, but I had no time to think about it as I just jogged on.
It was odd seeing so much ice and snow still about. Chris almost came a cropper at Watford which really hadn't thawed properly. And a lot of the corridors were wet and slippery and it was impossible to run at full pelt in some places just because it was slippy underfoot.
We quit in the afternoon when we missed the Mill Hill East train which would have given me an outside chance of coming in at under 17 hours, and perhaps equaly my personal best.
We still learned a couple of things though as you do on every attempt, and it all helps for future challenges, which of course there will be later on this year - and definetely when there's no ice on ground ...
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