[This article also ran in Checkerboard City, John Greenfield's weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]
Two Saturdays ago on National Train Day, my transit-racing brother-in-arms Danny Resner and I tried to write a new chapter in the saga of competitive CTA riding, AKA the ‘L’ Challenge. The rules are simple: you must stop at and/or depart from every CTA station by train, although it’s not necessary to ride every inch of track, and you can only travel by ‘L’, bus or shoe leather.
Several people, including Danny and me, have worn the CTA racing crown at various times. In October, ad men Chris Aubin and Garrett Sorrels set the current record for 145 stations: 9:12:39. We hoped to snag the title before the five-month shutdown of the south Red Line for a $425 million track rehab and station enhancement project, which started on Sunday. Here’s how our day went down:
10am We begin our journey in Wilmette at the Purple Line’s Linden station, a stone’s throw from the Bahá’í temple. Last week a seven-month, $2 million slow-zone-elimination project started on the line north of Howard and we see yellow construction vehicles parked along the track as we roll south. Just before we reach Howard to transfer to the Yellow Line there’s an excruciating twenty-minute delay.