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Hitch hiking

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by domtyler, 11 Sep 2007.

  1. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    I think this one deserves its own thread.

    I used to do it regularly when I was younger, especially going home to parents when at university. It once took me a day and a half to get to Dorset from South London and required me sleeping in a bus shelter in the middle of nowhere. One of the worst times was being dropped in a lay by on the M3 in the freezing cold and rain with lorries belting by at 70mph. Truly grim.
     
  2. turbo tim

    turbo tim New Member

    Worst time for me was hitching from Cherbourg to St Malo. French just don't seem to get hitch hiking, took forever. Only decent lift I got was from a drunk in a 2CV who was determined to overtake everything. Very scarey.

    Best was getting a lift from Hilton Park services M6. Bloke took me to my door in Salford. Probably helped that I was travelling with a pretty girl. :blush:
     
  3. Twenty Inch

    Twenty Inch New Member

    Location:
    Behind a desk

    I hitched from Wicklow to Vienna one memorable summer 21 years ago. The experienced changed me irrevocably. Worst? Can't remember but probably involved being lost in the rain with no money. Best? too many - being fed by a German businessman, given a bed for the night by a French family, real basic human kindness stuff.

    Never got a lift in a VW Golf though. Ever. Does anyone know why?
     
  4. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    It used to surprise me the number of single women who used to stop for me, okay I never got two gorgeous blondes in an open top Ferrari, normally a 40ish drab looking woman in a hatchback, but even so. Maybe that says something about me?:blush:

    Once I was picked up by a bloke, late evening, he says that we were going to stop at this womans house and then both go in a shag her. I wondered what I had got myself into, but he went into her house and then came back five minutes later and got in a off we went without saying a word. :ohmy:
     
  5. hellenback

    hellenback New Member

    Location:
    Shipley
    I hitched from Leeds to Fort William for a climbing trip years back. Just as it was getting dark on a drizzly M6 just outside Carlisle I tried for one last lift in preference to spending the night on the roundabout in my bivvy-bag, the "wrong" side of the border.

    It was then that a car pulled up and those magic words "Where to, pal?", uttered as I clambered aboard.

    It was then that the peculiarity of an open sunroof in the gathering gloom and the whiff of alcohol dawned, as the driver wheel-span off the hard shoulder. The machine-gun rattle of grit on wheel arches and the velcro-rip of tyres struggling for grip setting the tone for what was to come. Within 5 minutes it was fully dark and raining heavily. The sort of driving conditions where the police advise us to avoid making unnecessary journeys and where the flatmates buried the body in the film "Shallow Grave". The driver slurred, "Ye alright with the sunroof, pal? Ah've had a terrible day". That'd explain the rum and coke in the pop bottle he'd offered me then.

    Accelerating upto the rear of other vehicles with horn blaring and screaming profanities before performing "committing" overtaking manoeuvres, my driver regaled me with tales of his weekend horribilis. This had involved watching Scotland lose abroad at the "fitbaw" and a multi-day drinking session which extended to the point of his arrest by Newcastle's finest on disembarking the ferry at the wheel of the hire car.

    His mates had deserted him as he sobered up in the cells and awaited charge. On release, bereft of friends, in a foreign country (England) and the world against him, my driver had reasoned it seemed, "in for a penny, in for a pound" and continued in the manner to which he'd become accustomed.

    My palms sweating now and grinning fixedly, I noticed the spider's-web tattoo on my driver's neck and nodded in affable agreement at the unjust predicament now facing my driver in explaining the mess to his girlfriend and four-year old daughter. He told of a life lived in the less salubrious parts of Scotland's central belt: of gangs, GBH, drugs and thieving. A life it seemed, he'd not entirely left behind. I reflected on my own folly in not replying "Oh, just here's fine" to my drivers first question, within seconds of taking my seat. I wondered if here was a man who might kill me for my belongings and the drug money it might represent as opposed to simply as a result of a drunken accident.

    It was at Hamilton Services I was finally able to unclench my buttocks and relax the bear-hug on my rucsac which I'd kept on my knees as a sort of improvised airbag. As we pulled up and I scoped the shrubbery for a likely bed we exchanged pleasantries, wishing each other well and "safe journey". "At least ah'm off the heroin", said my driver as I hastily let myself out and walked shakily to a stand of sopping, litter-strewn ornamental conifers. It was still raining hard. While artics rumbled through what remained of the night, sounding horns and belching fumes, I snuggled down to my most welcome night's sleep for a long time.
     
  6. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    I used to hitch everywhere as a youngster. Never thought twice about it. Used to hitch through France to the Alps climbing every summer with a huge rucksack without any problem. On another trip, I remember getting to Hendon roundabout at the start of the M1 and being 30th in the queue out of there, but being gone within the hour.

    I even remember turning down lifts in the Ogwen Valley that were only going to Birmingham as I thought one would go closer to my destination in Ipswich. Sure enough in no time, I got one to Cambridge!

    But about 10 years ago we were off to Scotland for some event. I hadn't quite finished all the work I needed to do, so I suggested to Mrs TB that she take everyone up in the car and I would hitch up the following day when I was done. Despite being down at the motorway junction near here in time to catch all the lorries setting off (5am) from the truck stop, I crawled my way up north picked up by a succession of elderly people in their cars, who all said "you don't see hitch hikers around much these days do you? I remember in my National Service days. . . . . ." Finally got the last train from Perth to Aviemore to ensure I would complete the equivalent of a 5 hour car trip in one day on the road. Pathetic!

    I was talking to some female friends the other evening who had travelled overland to India and on to Australia in the 1950's and 60's. We contrasted their freedom and ability to go off and see the world with the current generations of our families, who now feel their 'roaming footloose and fancy free' can comprise little more than flying off for a year in Australia with thousands of their own sort.

    It's sad that despite all the 'progress' and sophistication that young people have these days, they are denied so much of the great pleasures we had. I think it's a great shame that 'your thumb' is no longer the key to limitless adventures.
     
  7. hellenback

    hellenback New Member

    Location:
    Shipley
    As an impecunious student some 15 years ago, I've had great hitching experiences too. Long distance "door to door" lifts, generous people who've stood me lunch and even been picked up by nubile lovelies who've entertained me with their conversation.

    It is a shame that our social climate doesn't seem to permit the same freedoms to young people and modern individualistic materialism paints hitch-hikers as despicable slacker, free-loaders.
     
  8. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Location:
    Thumberland
    I think for most people these days, it's "stranger danger" that puts them off hitching!
    Hellenback, your story sounds like a journey to "hell and back" hur hur. :ohmy:
    I was having a lift in a lorry once up the M1 (early 1980s), and the driver pulled over onto hard shoulder, fumbled under his seat and pulled out a hammer. Seeing I was about to sh!t meself, he explained that his accelerator pedal was loose, and he wanted to effect a repair. Happily, I was getting out at next junction.
    Also, I once myself picked up a real psycho woman who was at exit to South Mimms service station (M25) in high wind and pouring rain. Gave her a lift into St. Albans, all the time she was babbling about how she'd met James Brown (I had a JB tape on) and sh@gged him... er... she was a total nutter....:blush:
     
  9. gbb

    gbb Legendary Member

    Location:
    Peterborough
    Hitchhiker in my yoof too....regular and all over..
    Worst experience, at 17, being picked up in a furniture delivery lorry by a grubby oldish driver. No problem, he seemed chatty enough....then the conversation turned to girlfriends and then sex...

    Then he propositioned me :ohmy::ohmy::ohmy: (perhaps i'd like to earn some money :blush: ...he said)

    Being young and naive, i told him to stop the lorry and got out pronto :biggrin::ohmy:!:eek:

    If i had been a bit more switched on, i'd have took his number and reported him...or lumped him one if i were a violent person.

    As a hiker, i always returned the gesture when driving, but that goes wrong sometimes.
    Once picked up a reasonable looking guy on the M11...who promptly rocked and mumbled to himself for the 40 mile journey :sad:

    Another time picked up a foreign chap (long before the immigrants)...who didnt speak English...and didnt convey where he wanted to go..

    Oooer.....took him 20 miles and droppped him off at the nearest junction :ohmy:
     
  10. Dayvo

    Dayvo Just passin' through

    Location:
    O' slO'
    Worst!

    Hitching from Västerås in Sweden to Oslo (in Norway for those who didn't know :o) in Novemeber 1993. Waited 18 hours on the motorway for a lift. Started at 13:00, retired to 'bed' (a sleeping bag in a small wood with ALL my clothes on) at 22:00 and woke up the next morning with a couple of inches of snow on me! Got a lift at 8:00. Took a couple of hours to thaw out. :blush:

    Most direct!

    From Aachen to Brentwood in one go.
    From Milan to Brentwood in one go.

    Most exciting!

    In Germany on the autobahn with a couple of stoned Germans driving a Merc at 180 kmh!

    Most hospitable!

    A lift from a lorry driver in France. Picked up late in the afternoon, drove me and my mate back to his place; his wife cooked a fantastic dinner, tons of wine, beer, cognac, she did our laundry for us, had a really comfortable night's sleep, great breakfast, wifey made a packed lunch for us, and the driver drove out of his way to leave us on a good road to hitch on.

    Happy days! :biggrin:
     
  11. Pete

    Pete Guest

    My experience is more of hitchhikers I've carried, than of hitching, myself: certainly not done it since my student days. I can recall one effort to get from Leeds to London, when the bus was full up and I couldn't afford the train. This was way back in about 1970-71.

    After what seemed like hours standing forlorn at the roundabout, fairly pleasant enough guy in a Ford Anglia (think: flying car in Harry Potter) stops for me. As we get going on the motorway it seems to me he's pushing it far more than you'd expect an angle-box to be capable of, also car's very noisy with a strong smell of petrol mixed with exhaust. After asking him about this, he admits to having prised in a 2-litre engine out of a totally different car, no mention of whether he did anything to the transmission or suspension (forerunner of Barryboys maybe?) ... anyway we're belting down towards Sheffield when there's a big 'clunk' and looking back I see a small pulley spinning off to the side of the road. Turns out the fan/alternator drive has come adrift, immobilising the car and he has to call for a tow. I have no choice but to stick with him, it being middle-of-nowhere on the motorway.

    He gets the tow to some small back-street garage, they (after a lot of sweat) manage to re-fit the pulley but warn him that the big-ends are about to crack up, at first they refuse to let him drive the car off but after a lot of argument they demur. I at this point want to leg it to the nearest bus-stop but he's very insistent I stay with him (why?). So back onto the motorway: despite warnings (and my protestations) he's up to his old speed-merchant habit again, the noise getting more and more unendurable.

    Eventually something's got to give and it does! Somewhere near Chesterfield, a piston-rod comes loose and stabs a hole right through the cylinder block, dumping oil, water, the works in a cloud of smoke and seizing the engine. Another call to the breakdown truck. At this point, since I can see the junction less than a mile ahead, I insist on parting company and walking up the slip road to the roundabout, where I stand and wait - and wait (it's getting late in the day now).

    Lo and behold, another car stops for me. I glance at the driver and think 'you look familiar'. Yes - he's had the car towed to another garage, abandoned it, and hired a car to complete his journey - and stopped to pick me up a second time.

    So we reach Coventry - his destination - without further mishap, and I take the train the rest of the way (costing me more than the bus from Leeds would have). I was out of pocket on this journey (I offered him a bit for the petrol, I felt I had to: but he refused). Goodness only knows how much this wretched driver was out of pocket. But I never heard from him again...
     
  12. jonathan ellis

    jonathan ellis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    London
    i used to thumb it from the pub when I was on crutches for a year.
    I always got picked up within 10mins. When I was ok (no crutches) I didn't get picked up, so I used to take a crutch to the pub for another few months so i'd get a lift back!

    and as I was in weymouth last month I gave a lift to a couple who were thumbing to a campsite
     
  13. Pete

    Pete Guest

    I once picked up a German couple, again this was as a student - the bloke had only half a leg and one arm as I recall. They were absolutely charming. They both climbed into the back seat - easier for him on his crutches, and so that they could sit together. As I drove along they were chatting away merrily: I could follow but little, German not being a language I understand. But I did pick up a compliment they paid on my car - old banger - and even on my driving. Nice!

    I never had a really bad experience with hitchhikers but once I had a drunk/druggie force his way into the car (stupidly, I left passenger door unlocked) while I was in a traffic jam on the Finchley Road. I took him as far as Swiss Cottage where I managed to drop him. All the way he was moaning about his recent release from 'inside' and he had no money, no food, no place to sleep. Of course he tried to cadge something off me and gave me lip when I refused. But he wasn't either violent or threatening, thank goodness.
     
  14. Maggot

    Maggot Star of BBC 5Lives Ballot Box Brigade

    Location:
    Cheddar
    I used to quite enjoy hitch hiking.

    My most bizarre experience was hitching to Aviemore from Larkhill, with a pair of skis, and getting picked up at Amesbury services by two lads.......going skiing in Aviemore:biggrin: