DC Metro Challenge

The Red Line Ramblers

Big news last week! Monica Li became the new record holder at 6 hours, 37 minutes – beating John Teneyck’s one-day record of 7 hours, 9 minutes. Look for more detailed coverage of both their attempts soon!

In the meantime, new challengers appear: The Red Line Ramblers. This Washingtonian/Michigander duo have their eyes set on dethroning Monica – and they’ve done their homework. Learn more about the Ramblers, “E” and “P” in their profile below, and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@redlineramblers) for the latest updates during their attempt today!

Tell us a bit about yourselves.

We’re in our 20s (because who else would want to do the DC Metro Challenge?!). One of us is a native Washingtonian, the other is a Michigander. I’m interested in politics, he’s interested in architecture, urban planning, and sustainable design. Come to think of it, “Washington DC public transit” is the perfect meld of these two interests.

When did your interest in Metro start? How does Metro fit into your life now?

I’ve been riding metro probably as long as I can remember. I love it. I think it far and away beats the other subways systems I’ve used regularly (notably Chicago’s and New York’s). It’s cleaner, it’s quieter, it’s more comfortable. I don’t take Metrorail to work anymore since a bus route is better for me, but I have commuted by metro for other jobs. I think public transit is great for cities and I wish even more people rode the Metro so it could be even more reliable and maybe add some new lines or stations.

What route do you plan to use in your attempt?

We do have a route planned. It’s similar to what Monica Li took last week: We both start at Shady Grove, ride the entirety of the Red Line, then turn back to Fort Totten and ride the entirety of the Green Line – but then we’re going to head east and hit up the Orange and Blue termini, then head around to Virginia and do the south ends of Blue and Yellow, before heading up to Rossyln and taking the Orange Line west to finish in Vienna. Here’s an animation of it.

I’m really not sure this is an ideal route. Monica’s may have been better. The theory behind this one is, the two longest spokes of the system are the ones ending at Shady Grove and at Vienna, so start at one of those and end at the other and avoid doubling back on the two longest spokes. Compared to Monica’s route though, it does mean we will be repeating the section on the Blue/Orange lines between L’enfant and Stadium-armory. Like Monica, we will have to repeat the Blue/Yellow between Rosslyn and King streets. We won’t be taking the Yellow Line bridge between L’enfant and Nat’l airport, but since there are no station on that segment I think we’re ok…right?

Or summarized for the insider: Use the Grosvenor Gambit as our opening play then if things are going smoothly use standard Totten two-stop to route us on the Green Line. Now our return from Branch is where is starts to get interesting. At the intersection of the the Green/Yellow and Blue/Orange we face our greatest decision, a L’Enfant Terrible. Our strategy dictates an east of the Anacostia approach but if the late track work is any indication we could in for a dreaded Stadium-Armory stand-off. The rest is simple logic following the Blue-to-Yellow approach and conclude on the Viennese Variation to a record time.

We will try to time the end of our route – which has the densest group of transfers – for evening rush hour around 5 or 6 pm.

Any specific plans for your attempt?

Mostly we are coming up with fun trivia and jokes to tweet. We are determined to break the record if possible, but if we can’t, so be it. If our twitter feed is not entertaining, however, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. Hopefully the ride will be a six and a half hour party…or maybe even shorter!

What are you most worried about for your attempt?

The same thing anyone would worry about – long transfer times between trains, broken down trains/track work, or anything else that could slow us down with nothing we can do to stop it. There will be track work during out attempt but if all goes according to plan it will be long over by the time we get to affected stations. I suppose I’m also a little worried about getting lost in the Rossyln station. And I guess I’m worried our tweeting-machines will run out of battery or not get reception. Also the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse weighs on our minds.

This is the big question: Why do it?

I know I am and always have been a very competitive person. Just reading about your attempt made me excited to try one of my own. I need an adventure these days – some project to work on and a goal to set. This fit the bill well. P. and I both have pretty flexible work schedules so why not spend the day with each other? And if it happens to be that we are in a metro tunnel rather than playing video games, so be it.

Do you think you’ll beat the standing record?

Honestly I don’t know. I think we have a chance, but Monica’s time really was pretty blazingly fast. Whether we do or not will probably be mostly up to chance, unfortunately. I do hope to beat your record, however, which was the standing record when I first decided to take the challenge anyway. Anyway if we don’t beat it this time we can always try again.

Describe your feelings about your attempt in one word.

Enter-train-ing.

Good luck, Ramblers! This is going to be a tough attempt, but you’ll be kings if you pull it off! The Ramblers will start their attempt this morning – follow them on Twitter (@redlineramblers) for the latest updates!

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