This blog-post was originally conceived as a bit of expanded internal documentation for the tables produced by Prino's lift program, and more specifically those in the "summ.h-h", file, and had Prino left it that, it would never have seen the light of day.
However, when during a ride the name of Douglas Adams popped-up, and the driver asked if Prino ever had had rides of 42 km, or of 0:42 hour, this piqued Prino's interest, and he decided that it might be interesting(?) to enhance the documentation to include actual data (in this case up to 2019-12-31T24:00), and to highlight all occurrences of 42, and add some historical or interesting(?) information, where that made any sense.
The result is a page with a size of half-a-megabyte, that you can load in its entirety by clicking here. Or you can just read the much smaller version below, just don't click on the links, because they only work on the big page, and Prino just could not be bothered to neuter them.
As most of the readers of this blog know, Prino has three great passions in life, in order of importance, Audronė, hitchhiking, and numbers, and there is an interesting connection between Audronė, Prino, and hitchhiking, in that Prino met Audronė while attending the 4th International Hitch-Hiking Congress in Vilnius during the weekend of 4-5 March 2000, having been invited by Augustas, Audronė's son.
When they met for the first time on 3 March, his first words to her were "Ah, you must be Augustas sister" (Augustas had told him that he lived with his mother and sister), to which she replied "No, I'm his mother". The rest is history, and they got married on 8 September 2001, unbeknownst to them that Douglas Adams had died a few months earlier, on 11 May 2001.
Of course every hitchhiker should know who Douglas Adams is, and if not, have a look at The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the book which originated as a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, and the number that's forever connected to hitchhiking, 42. Why 42? I'll leave the explanation to the Douglas Adams himself.
Now that we have a (another) connection between numbers and hitchhiking, Prino thought it would be a nice gesture to create a permanent "memorial" to the guy by incorporating 42 in some kind of meaningful way into lift, his program that processes the data he collects when he's on the road, trying to get from A to B, or just from A to A in a big irregularly shaped polygon…
A quick grep on the Pascal source code that's used to build lift showed him that there are already four occurrences of 42 in "hhcommon.pas", the unit that contains most variables and constants, but they're all in comments, and knowing that the variable "pATim" has the value 42 is of little interest. So, Prino went through the 120 tables the program currently produces, and eventually decided that only one particular set of 4 tables, generated twice, once for rides, once for days, would do. Those tables show the number of consecutive rides (or days, and neither of them necessarily in a single trip) that were done with the highest speed (Hurrah!), that were done with the lowest speed (Sad face), that covered the largest distance, and that, in a matter of speaking, didn't get him anywhere.
Having done so, 42 would appear eight times in the main summary output file, but when looking at it, Prino thought it would be fun, yes, his ideas of fun obviously are a bit "funny", to look if and where the "Douglas" number showed up in other places in this file (as of 2019-12-31, creating this blog entry took rather a lot of time), and a "f ' 42 ' all" command in his favourite editor showed no less than 48 occurrences! (Obviously 42 would have been the icing on the cake…)
Yes, unlike 42 you are allowed to pull the above number to pieces, and you should arrive at the multiplication of 42 and 48.
So where can you find all 48 occurrences of the number 42, in the snapshot of "summ.h-h" that was created on 1 January 2020, so includes all Prino's rides until 31 December 2019?
In general that's what will happen lots of times, if you're on your way to country A, find yourself in country B, which borders country A, it makes quite a lot of sense to be on the lookout for drivers from country A, as there's a pretty high probability that they will go that way!
It was in Kautokeino that Prino's luck ran out, he'd made it to Nordkapp on 20 June, one day ahead of the schedule he had set himself, but the fact that he never saw any sun out there might have been a warning… Two days later, he took a bus to Rovaniemi, having had no luck stopping any of the cars passing by every few hours.
On 25 May 2000 Prino's got his first ride with someone from Ukraine, taking him from Plymouth to the Exeter Motorway Services. That trip was pretty memorable, it was, doesn't he love numbers, the very first trip where his average daily distance exceed 1,000 km, it was the first time that he succeeded in hitching from John O'Groats to Land's End, but it was also the last time that he visited John O'Groats…
Did that matter? Actually, not really, because John O'Groats, and likewise, Land's End, are just places people go to to say that they been there. Both are regular tourist traps, but then again, they happen to lie in two parts of the UK, Cornwall and Scotland, that are well worth a visit!
And there's another trivial 42, the number of that trip.
For what it's worth, since that trip Prino's short waiting times have gone down by about two minutes, his long waiting times by about seven, and his total average ones by eight-and-a-half minutes, from 0:57:13 to 0:48:42, and the short to long ratio had been going up from 2.17-to-1.00 to 2.82-to-1.00, do old men hitch faster?
In the year 2001 Prino had 42 waits that lasted less than one hour, averaging 0:23:43. As might be expected, he also had a few longer than one hour, and a few in 2001 meant 21, and they were really long, on average 2:08:31, but three of the ones that were (more than) partly responsible to this were a 4:11 wait in Calais that included the actual ferry crossing, and two long waits at the German-Polish (4:05) and Polish-Lithuanian (3:16) borders, countries that at the time weren't in the EU or Schengen. Next to that, trying to get a ride, as he did at the PL-LT border at 04:31 in the morning, is, to put it mildly, not the best thing to do, nowadays he's more likely to disappear in the fields or forest to get some sleep!
One figure in the row for trip 25 stands out, the entry for the highest speed, 178.6 km/h, which is the seventh fastest ride on record, and the only one in the top-20 of fastest rides that wasn't in done in Germany! The driver, a manager for a US fast-food company, was on his way to a meeting and took Prino very early in the morning non-stop from the Exeter Services to the Strensham Services, a distance of 122.1 miles. Yes, it was in the UK, and had he been caught by the police, he would almost certainly have lost his licence and might even have gone to jail!
He broke the previous record of 177.5 km/h, set in, where else, Germany. However, that record was also a bit unusual, as the driver was a retired guy from a country where the maximum legal speed at the time was just 55 miles per hour, in other words an American. At times he drove the BMW 7 he had bought from BMW Germany, while still in the USA, but to be delivered at Frankfurt Airport (in)to its limit(er), and that limit was a bit less than three times the 55 mph in the US, and, whether that was true, or just to comfort him, he told Prino that he used to drive in NASCAR races when he was younger and that "my reflexes are still pretty good!".
The lowest ever average velocity for 1000 km was 55.7 km/h, from trip 11, ride 39 to trip 11, ride 42, when Prino covered 1,017.6 km in 18:16. The juicy (or more like bone-dry) details?
The driver had stopped himself next to Prino when he was walking towards the exit of Kars, and asked him, in in German, he had worked in Germany for many years, if Prino needed a ride, and then proceeded by actually telling him to take a "seat". The next 12 minutes were spent quietly watching the backside of the horse drawing the cart.
The slowest 2500 km started a few rides earlier, at trip 11, ride 20, at an exit for Geyikli, south of Çannakale, from where Prino had visited Troy a day earlier, and finished with the same ride 42. The 2,574.8 km were covered in 39:50 driving time.
In trip 11, the trip that took Prino from De Bilt in the Netherlands via Stockholm all the way to eastern Turkey and back to De Bilt via Greece, he found out that average speeds in Turkey were low, especially on unpaved roads in trucks that seemed to be well past their sell-by dates.
The highest average speed ever experienced by Prino in a set of 42 consecutive rides was the speed the German government advises you to drive on the Autobahn, 130.0 km/h. The set was made up of seven rides in the UK, four in the Netherlands, one crossing the Dutch-German border, and 30 in Germany.
The lowest average speed ever experienced by Prino, when only making his second hitchhiking trip, was set during a set of 42 rides, one in Denmark, five in Sweden, 23 in Norway up along the, at the time, unpaved E6 to the Nordkapp, and closing off with 13 rides in Finland. The average speed over those 42 rides was a measly 70.1 km/h.
Prino never covered more than an amazing 12,553.2 km in 42 rides. What's also amazing is the fact that they date back to a very grey past, starting with ride 44 (out of 56) of trip 6 on 1985-05-04T11:02. All 20 rides of trip 7, the trip that for more than 33 years held the record, 295.2 km for the longest average ride, are included, and the first nine rides of trip 8, the trip that ended when the Greek driver fell asleep, and "parked" his car sideways on the crash barrier in southern Yugoslavia, ending Prino's holiday before it even had started!
The minimum distance covered in 42 rides is just 1,612.5 km, less than 13% of the maximum distance in the same number of rides… What? How the?
Yes, it happens! Does Prino feel sad about it? No, in this case he doesn't, not in the very least! Why? Simple, these 42 rides, in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain contain some of his most cherished memories!
And almost as a PS, the same table also contains a row that tells you that Prino never hitched less than 113,219.7 km in 1,000 rides, with the first of these rides starting in trip 42.
Note that this table is a carbon copy of the previous one. This is caused by the sheer amount of data. If lift is run on smaller subsets, for example the data of just trip 1, the tables will differ, a little bit.
It is in essence copy of the "Maximum average speed over a set number of consecutive rides", with days substituting rides, just as the three items below are copies the three corresponding "rides" tables.
The highest average speed ever experienced by Prino in a set of 42 consecutive days was (obviously) lower than the speed experienced during 42 consecutive rides, but an average speed of 115.4 km per hour, over a distance of more than three quarters around the world seems pretty respectable.
The majority of the rides during these 42 days were in Germany and Belgium, but Prino also dipped his thumb in Luxenbourg, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark.
That said, it should come as no surprise that Prino's slowest 42 consecutive rides happened right at the beginning of his career on the road. From the final, 13th, day of his very first trip, to the first day of his fifth trip, his average speed was nearly 20% lower than it is right now!
Around the world in 42 days? Well, if you're called Alexey Vorov, you only need, 20 days, 1 hour, 31 minutes, and, Russian hitchhikers care about the details, 17 seconds, during which period he must have covered, Prino hasn't actually traced the route via all intermediate stops, around 19,000 km.
So are the achievements of Alexey and Prino, 38,056.4 km in 42 days comparable? If you look at both distances, yes, but if you start thinking about it in more depth, then you should realise that Alexey leaves Prino utterly in the dust: he went from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, about 9,600 km according to Google Maps in a "mere" 168 hours, Prino's best achievement for seven days is way less, "only" 7,992.3 km. Alexey hitched on Russian roads, and, correct me if you want, they're unlikely of Autobahn quality, whereas Prino covered most of his nearly 8,000 km on a motorway that basically runs straight from Oostende to Białystok.
Alexey is the master, Prino might be one of his better pupils, but still has a long way to go…
where Prino can repeat what he wrote just a two list-entries before,
about days in a long gone past.
The very first day of Prino's very first real trip was in a way quite exceptional, he covered 638.2 km, a distance that even now would not be considered too shabby, but after that? Hmmm, and so it may not come as too big a surprise that day 2 of that first trip marks the first of the 42 days during which he covered only 15,056.7 km, a distance he's hoping to never undercut in the rest of his days on the road.
The Douglas Adams number appears twice in the table, because the longest distance in five days was done in a single trip, trip 42, and what makes trip 42 also stand out is the fact that it was the first trip where Prino covered more than an average of 1,000 km per day for a whole trip, a feat he's since repeated another 14 times.
Both the entries for two and three consecutive days also comprise of whole trips, and if you were to scan the "Basic information per trip" table below, you would find that among the 1,000+ km per-day trips, trip 183 shattered Prino's previous 1,268.8 km per day record by a Beamonesque margin.
Realistically? If you're single, don't have any commitments, and have a normal job, the upper limit, in Europe where people get on average about 25 paid holidays, and there are half-a-dozen of so public holidays, would be about 135 days. How much distance can you cover in that time? Well, if you're actually going to hitchhike for 135 days, it might imply that you're up to something, and looking at the final entry in the table, 53,088.4 km in 65 days on the road, would result in more than 110,000 km, and that's the distance the late Benoit Grieu claimed to have done several times.
As for Prino? His first trip lasted 22 days, the most days hitched in a 365-day rolling period is 65 days, and somewhere in de middle 42 pops-up again, not particularly interesting.
However, divide the distance by the length of the actual rolling period, you'd have to Cut&Paste the table into a spreadsheet, something pretty curious shows up, the result for the 22 day period on the first row is 135.5 km, and the result for the penultimate rows is pretty close to that figure. Coincidence? Prino hasn't got a clue, but if you want to analyse this further, all data is available on his Google Drive.
Of course, almost everyone who's been hitchhiking for even a relative short amount of time, but has done so across borders, won't be very surprised to get three rides with three drivers all having a different nationality. A 4-in-4 is a bit rarer, 5-in-5 rarer still and so on. Prino's highest is a 9-in-9.
However, a friend of Prino, Frank Verhart has done something even better, having
had a 6-in-5, drivers of six different nationalities in five rides. However, if
that had happened to Prino, he's had a ride with a couple from Uganda and Germany,
he would only have recorded the nationality of the driver driving the car when he
was picked up. In this EAU/D case that was the Ugandan male.
The procedure that currently generates this table was not written by Prino, but by
a fellow user of, at the time, Turbo Pascal, after Prino had asked, on 9 April 1998
in the comp.lang.pascal.borland Usenet
newsgroup if anyone could come up with something faster than he had written himself,
and which was slow, hellishly slower, slower even than a snail close to OD'ing on
Here's the original
by Prino. One person replied in the group, but after a clarification never came back.
However, two other gentlemen, Brent Beach (BB) and Paul Green (PG), replied in
private. The email exchange with BB, from 1998-04-15 to 1998-06-15, contained 10
emails, and in those two months he sent Prino 4 replacement routines. The exchange
with PG went on a bit longer, from 1998-04-24 until 1999-01-24, although that was
the date Prino sent his final roll-up email to him. His last email, with the sixth and
final version of his routine arrived on 1998-05-17.
BB's solution was fast, it took just 2 seconds, compared to the original
26(!) minutes of Prino's very first version, and the 26 seconds Prino had
brought it down to at the time. However, PG's version upped the ante even
further, by processing the data in a mere 0.25 seconds, in pure Turbo Pascal 6.
And, if you're still reading, that compiler generated rather crappy code, to
put it very mildly, Prino's optimized assembler about halved that time to about
Prino still has the Pascal programs from that time, but running them now on a
virtualized 16-bit system? Thanks, but no thanks. However, he does still have
the PL/I versions from that time, and one version of those programs contains
code to actually counts the number statement (or groups of statements) are
executed, and those figures are still updated after every trip, so sit back,
shiver, and positively freeze when you realize that these are only the PL/I
statements executed. Some of them, especially in my code, result in the
execution of rather a lot more assembler instructions!
But after all this übergeek stuff, let's go back to the subject of this blog, 42…
for some Geek-speak about this table…
PL/I instructions executed
The procedure that currently generates this table was not written by Prino, but by a fellow user of, at the time, Turbo Pascal, after Prino had asked, on 9 April 1998 in the comp.lang.pascal.borland Usenet newsgroup if anyone could come up with something faster than he had written himself, and which was slow, hellishly slower, slower even than a snail close to OD'ing on .
Here's the original "Competition anyone" by Prino. One person replied in the group, but after a clarification never came back.
However, two other gentlemen, Brent Beach (BB) and Paul Green (PG), replied in private. The email exchange with BB, from 1998-04-15 to 1998-06-15, contained 10 emails, and in those two months he sent Prino 4 replacement routines. The exchange with PG went on a bit longer, from 1998-04-24 until 1999-01-24, although that was the date Prino sent his final roll-up email to him. His last email, with the sixth and final version of his routine arrived on 1998-05-17.
BB's solution was fast, it took just 2 seconds, compared to the original 26(!) minutes of Prino's very first version, and the 26 seconds Prino had brought it down to at the time. However, PG's version upped the ante even further, by processing the data in a mere 0.25 seconds, in pure Turbo Pascal 6. And, if you're still reading, that compiler generated rather crappy code, to put it very mildly, Prino's optimized assembler about halved that time to about 0.14 seconds.
Prino still has the Pascal programs from that time, but running them now on a virtualized 16-bit system? Thanks, but no thanks. However, he does still have the PL/I versions from that time, and one version of those programs contains code to actually counts the number statement (or groups of statements) are executed, and those figures are still updated after every trip, so sit back, shiver, and positively freeze when you realize that these are only the PL/I statements executed. Some of them, especially in my code, result in the execution of rather a lot more assembler instructions!
But after all this übergeek stuff, let's go back to the subject of this blog, 42…
Prino has had rides with people of 93 different nationalities, and the shortest series that included 42 different ones spanned 313 rides, started with an Iraqi, ended with a Pakistani, and included plenty other non-European drivers, the full list, you can decode it using the International vehicle registration code article on Wikipedia is:
"IRQ PL NL B CHN RC J D H SO MA ROK LT TR GB ER F RUS AL UA ET CGO LV TN I CH GE DK RO E CZ SRB MD USA IND HKJ L AFG EST RL MK PK".
Final line for this occurrence of 42, the 9-in-9 contained drivers with these nationalities: "RUS LT LV MK NL D PK GB B", and the set came into existence in January 2019.
In this table 42 takes up its trivial role as the number of a trip.
The table tells you that the series of 4 consecutive vans that Prino once has started with in trip 42, with ride 18. Note that he also had a single ride in a van that was longer than those four rides combined!
The table tells you that Prino hasn't had a ride on a horse-drawn cart (PW stands for the Dutch "Paarden-Wagen") since trip 11, ride 42, and the "+" in the "#R" column indicates that it's an ongoing series.
One of the more remarkable rows in this table is the third, the one for T(rucks). After having had a ride in a not very fast truck as the final ride in trip 188, Prino decided to see how long he could avoid them, at least by not explicitly asking truckdrivers for a ride. He eventually gave in nine months later, when, after leaving Oostende (too) late in the afternoon, he was still stuck on a petrol station in the Netherlands at 21:05 in the evening.
However, Cut&Paste second half of the table, sort it descending on the "#R" column, and look at the third entry, and you'll see it's for RL, Lebanon ("Republique Libanaise"), and what's more its closed! Yes, trip 6, ride 42 started a long spell of non-Lebanese drivers, that ended nearly 30(!) years later. Almost as amazing, the ride that ended the non-RL run was followed directly by the very first ride with an Egyptian driver!
As Prino used to live in the UK and roam the motorways over there for some 16 years, the two longest runs, for 42 and 46 rides are in that country, but just above them there's an entry that's a bit more interesting, a run of 32 "natives" spread over three countries.
As to how this came to be? Well, if you look at a map of Scandinavia, and Prino gives you the hint that trip 2 took place in 1982, you might figure it out yourself.
This table is virtually always (nearly) identical to the previous one, but rather than tabulating progressively longer runs of drivers, it tabulates progressively longer distances covered by natives. The same 42 and 46 rides appear, but this time they're separated by an additional entry, a run of just 40 rides, that covered a marginally longer distance than the run preceding longer-in-rides run.
Trip 42, ride 49 was Prino's longest non-stop ride in a taxi, the driver picking him up on the Watford Gap Services, the oldest motorway services in the UK, and dropping him off, 170.0 km further on the Knutsford Services. Obviously Prino didn't have to pay for the ride!
To read on, almost seamlessly, you have to click here.
Last updated on 11 May 2020 (Initial version)