Records are there to be broken…

So what do you do when you're unemployed? In my case, my wife sends me out to do a bit more hitchhiking :)

Trip 79, three days, 16 rides, a lousy 995.5 km in 8.31 hour of driving time, which makes the average speed of 116.9 km/h the only thing worth mentioning.

Which brings me to trip 80…

This trip started off in its (more or less) usual fashion, with me cycling to the President Kennedy round-about in Oostende at about half past six in the morning. Just for a change, the first ride was with a male driver on his way to Brugge, who graciously dropped me off at the Total petrol station in Jabbeke. The wait here was bearable, five minutes, the destination wasn't. The driver told me that he was on his way to Gent and that he could drop me at Drongen. I falsely assumed the motorway services with the same name, but alas, it turned out to be the exit, about one kilometre before this motorway services. Now I knew that there was a back road into them, but not wanting to waste time making a detour, I decided to skip the pleasantries and walked through a cow-excrement splattered field to it, which was a bit faster. In the end it didn't matter too much as I still ended up waiting for well over 40 minutes, which is bloody long. In the end I accepted a ride to a kiosk just on the E17 towards Antwerpen with a lady.

Normally I try to avoid these non-petrol station places like the proverbial plague, as they are far less visited than petrol stations, but this time I hit the jackpot, four minutes later I was back on the road with a Briton who took me to Raststätte Rhynern, just over 320 km down the road, and well into Germany.

Now the purpose for this trip was just to cover a few hundred kilometres (as in at least 1,472.8 km) to cover at least 10,000 km for the year. Having arrived in the country without (if only that were still true…) speed limits, the next logical destination(s) were Hannover and Berlin, or should I say Raststättes Garbsen and Michendorf respectively?

Both of them were visited during the next ride, Garbsen for a coffee, Michendorf as my final destination, the driver, a Polish guy was going into Berlin and that was a no-no for me as it was only 17:24, far too early to stop! So I walked out of Michendorf Süd to the other side of the Autobahn (there's a pedestrian bridge) and having never done Berlin-München, I decided that now would be a good time to give that route a try.

And then things started to happen. It took me 13 minutes to get a ride. The ride was to Raststätte Köckern. The odometer distance between Michendorf and Köckern was 103 km. It took 35 minutes. I love hitchhiking in Germany!

The next ride was a bit slower, but if you cover 389 km in under three hours, you should not complain too much. I love hitchhiking in Germany! It took me to Raststätte In der Holledau, and a short while later I got a ride to Fürholzen, the driver was somewhat puzzled by this destination, as it's only a parking on the southbound side of the Autobahn… We arrived at 22:33 and I crossed over to the other side, the real Raststätte, via the pedestrian tunnel and after trying to get back towards Nürnberg for about an hour, I went into the restaurant, and got a bit of sleep on a bench, until I was woken up at about 6 o'clock by the staff. They had seen me, had let me 'sleep' all night, but now asked me to get up as more people were coming in. I had a coffee, and spent the next two hours inaudibly cursing the twits who told me that they couldn't give me a ride as they were driving company cars.

However, as every hitchhiker knows, at some stage someone will give you a ride and at 8:15 I got back onto the road. A young guy in a BMW took me to Raststätte Würzburg. Speed was OK, 150.6 km/h, would have been faster if it hadn't been for the roadworks and trucks overtaking each other on a two-lane Autobahn.

Fast forward to about 10:23ish.

A red Mercedes 350 SLK pulls up at the pumps. Out comes a woman who looks like she'll never even talk back to a hitchhiker, let alone give anyone a ride… Zap the prejudice! It turns out she's never done any hitchhiking herself ("Far too dangerous!"), nor has she ever picked up any hitchhikers, until I ask her for a ride. Sadly, she only takes me as far as Raststätte Weiskirchen, a mere 95 km down an Autobahn that has only two lanes for most of the way and is also "blessed" with a fair amount of roadworks, so our average speed over the distance doesn't even reach 100 mph. However, whenever she can push the pedal to the metal, she does, and, in a car like this, 255 km/h is pretty enjoyable. :)

The next ride is a bit slower, but it takes me directly to Utrecht in the Netherlands, where my father needs some assistance with his PC. I stay with him for the night. My 11 rides in these two days have covered 2,080.9 km in a mere 16:51, an average speed of 123.5 km/h, which is pretty good going. However, more astonishing are the figures for the six rides that were completely contained in the hitchhikers paradise called Germany, 1,271.3 km, 8:54 hours, and an average speed of 142.8 km/h. I love hitchhiking in Germany!

As for the record in the title of this article? Twelve years ago, in 1996, I did a little experiment to see what a determined hitchhiker can do in Germany and that led to a series of 21 consecutive rides with an average speed over 115 km/h and shorter series with even higher averages - in the first 25 rides of this trip I covered 2,775 km with an average speed in excess 135 km/h. That record still stands, and I don't expect to break it anytime soon as there are now simply too many restricted-speed stretches of Autobahn, but with series of six consecutive rides over 130, five over 135 and two over 150 km/h, this trip certainly breaks some of my personal records. I think I already mentioned it, but in case you missed it, I love hitchhiking in Germany!

Sadly, the trip from Utrecht back to Oostende was pretty disappointing, six rides for a mere 270 km and an average speed well below 90 km/h, taking my average for the trip down to a 'mere' 118 km/h, a fraction slower than that magic trip in 1996, six minutes less and that record would also have gone… :( However, the last ride was with a guy from Armenia, which means that I've now had rides with people from 63 countries and that my hitchhiking program is about to burst its seams.

I'm a happy bunny!

Note: This blog was originally posted on the site of Abgefahren e.V., the German hitchhike club, but is no longer accessible there. Compared to that version, this version has been updated to remove a number of typos.

Last updated on 20 July 2016 for move to Neocities