No one joined me for the crawl (see earlier post, here, for the details and the actual rules of the Underround challenge), in spite of their promises to the contrary. This was probably for the best since I was ready to quit after the first 20 miles and had there been anyone along with me that also wanted to bag it we would have probably stopped even earlier.
As it was, this was a fun if lonely project, the weather was fantastic, the beer was good, and I will not be doing it again. The totals were:
29.0 miles (by GPS, originally planned 24.7 but had to double back a few times to missed stations and inadvertantly detoured a few times)
The time was 6h 23 m 45 s including the 5 pub stops on the trail. If you take out the time spent in these (I took photo/time points at entrance and exit) then the net run was 5h 38 m 45s.
There were some nice features to this adventure. A couple of Aussies that have been occasional readers of the blog were waiting at the Zetland Arms and wished me luck, bought the beer and proceededto savage the poor quality of my prose. The 400th pub (and on to the 403rd) was added to my list of pub visits (I’m behind on the updates, the most recent posted was the 395th). And, I spotted a few interesting sights along the way, as well, and they are peppered into the slides below:
If you are going to do this yourself at some point, here are the things I learned the hard way:
1) Pick a route and stick to it. If you are using a map, make sure the side streets are all labeled in case you have to make an emergency change of plan.
2) Don’t go on the first sunny, warm Sunday of the year.
3) Don’t go on a Bank Holiday weekend.
4) Avoid the tourist clusterfucks like Oxford Street and Long Acre/Great Queens Street. A few extra steps to avoid these will save you a lot of extra steps zigzagging, dodging cattle, and crashing into penshioners, children, and the generally brain dead that have been released en masse and without supervision onto these roads and pavements. A taser wouldn’t be a bad idea, but you’ll draw less attention by just going around.
5) Plan around station closings. Many of these stations are closed for the near term (I knew about Blackfriar’s and used St Pauls as an alternate). Others are closed on late nights and weekends for some work but generally are open during the main part of the work week. Others, like Liverpool Street, have some entrances closed on the weekends and it is not worth it to run around looking for an alternative entrance (if you are like me and start to not give a shit about completion once exhasuted).
6) When a station has several tube lines to choose from, go to the platform that is nearest the surface. Circle Line is usually a good bet, but the City Line is usually pretty far underground. Those long, spiral staircases are murder after awhile.