Read the full write-up first.
Having attempted the tube challenge on Thursday, 17th July and written up the whole day, I think that it is appropriate for me to make some final musings.
Firstly, some thank you messages:
- My parents, for their support, and for dropping us off at Rickmansworth at 6am, and picking us up after midnight.
- Ben’s grandparents, for driving up to North Greenwich, the huge selection of food and for riding with us up to West Ham.
- Ben’s father, for coming out from work to Canary Wharf with food and water.
- Nicolas Weninger, for coming out and joining us for one of the longest stretches, the support and being great company. I really appreciated having another person to talk to for a significant time.
- Varun Jeyachandran, for waiting over 30 minutes, joining and chatting with us between Golders Green and Edgware, and for the water.
- Sam Turner, for listening to me rabbit on about trains all the time, getting up and meeting us at Ealing Broadway, and for giving us some sweets and crisps. Although you should have stayed for longer… and not run off without saying goodbye?
- Geoff Marshall, the Tube Challenge World Record Holder who has attempted the challenge 26 times, and from whom I gained some valuable tips, knowledge and advice. I have been talking to Geoff on twitter around two years now, and I’m sure we’ll meet again sometime, most likely on the platform at Acton Town. He makes an awesome app for tube challengers and commuters alike, called Station Master. I seem to spot all the mistakes, so I think I should be made a beta tester. Please?
- Yuki, for waiting and giving us the water at St. John’s Wood. I know you had other things to do.
- Back-up Trust, who Ben collected sponsorship for, and for some of their team coming out to say hello at East Putney. Just Giving page.
- The man on the 6.46am train to Amersham from Chalfont & Latimer who gave his email for a witness statement and got chatting to us.
- The woman on the 7.25am train from Watford towards London who gave her email for a witness statement.
- The man on the 8.32am Central Line train from West Ruislip towards London. I couldn’t quite read your email address, but what luck if you’ve found this.
- The man on the 8.07am Metropolitan Line arrival into Uxbridge, who recognised what we were doing.
- The male LU staff member who was an apprentice on the A Stock who was on the Circle Line and got off at Tower Hill. Thanks for chatting to us. Good old proper trains 🙂
- The man on the Northern Line Bank Branch heading to Watford Junction from Euston with London Midland, who recognised what we were doing and got chatting to me.
- The male driver of Metropolitan Line Train 405, which left Rickmansworth at 6:00am and left Chesham at 6.31am. We might have given you a shock heading north.
- The male Central Line driver who changed ends so quickly at Epping at around 4:30pm
Wow… Now, what did I think?
- Don’t choose such a hot day. It was the hottest day of the year so far on the 17th.
- Having people come out to greet us was amazing, and kept me sane.
- Get some business cards or print outs to hand to people who talk to you during the day. Mainly so they can find your site 🙂
- Know your toilets! Station Master really helps so you know where they are, while the back of a Tube Map is good for the initial check. Loose change helps if they charge (annoying).
- TFL Bus Arrivals was amazing. I used Citymapper to access this information. Favourite the stops you might be using.
- Tube Tracker was even more amazing. It works at most stations even the TFL boards do not work at, and provides train numbers.
- The working timetables are better than any other TFL timetables.
- Highs and lows. I was ultra paranoid at the beginning of the day.
- Door positions are important. Despite what Ben might say.
- Run. Don’t miss a connection somewhere where you’re going to have to wait 10 minutes+ because you think the train will leave on time to the quarter second (Central Line).
- Backup battery chargers are a godsend. I needed two, I borrowed one from my dad.
- Virgin Media Wifi. Use someone else’s login if you need, or I would seriously consider buying the day pass if you do this. Getting arrival information, tweeting, and messaging people ahead while underground was incredibly helpful.
- S Stock / London Overground / c2c Air Conditioning is amazing.
- Airplane Mode. Keep your phone in it while Underground, otherwise it’s constantly trying to search for a network and draining the battery. Obviously turn wifi on. I also find it reconnects faster when you return above ground.
- I hate Mill Hill East. We would have finished if it were not for that.
- Prepare your connections. Morden to Wimbledon has a lot of different options, but I lucked out with one I knew.
- Be very careful with buses. I should have got off the bus a stop earlier at South Wimbledon and Canons Park as we hit bad traffic within sight of the stations…
The tube challenge not only requires ultra commitment and the ability to literally sit on trains for ages (and ages and ages), but also to run and to get in the right places all through the day. It certainly is not for everyone, and it is an achievement, despite what some might think.
Will I do it again? Maybe. Ben will not, however, and in the meantime I need a new travelling companion. However, I have some great friends who will almost certainly come out again, and that will help in the future. Maybe I will do Walk the Tube next year, maybe not.
However… I have now been through every single London Underground station, and that is interesting in itself, to me at least.