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Beyond Adenau

Breitscheid and Fuchsrohre, Karussell and Schwedenkreuz – the places and the names of the famous, around 20 kilometers long Nordschleife are at least familiar to motorcyclists interested in racing. But the Eifel offers more than just the Nurburgring

Michael Schafer


The asphalt strip winds like a snake under the Moto Guzzi – not exactly the domain of the 1100 Sport with its long wheelbase. But she too is allowed to live out her talents, because the winding is interrupted by long, fast straights. This is followed by serpentines and town crossings – wait a minute: town crossings on the Nurburgring? Of course not. But the constant change of bends and the ups and downs of the roads in the Eifel conveys a lot of what makes the legendary Nordschleife, the longest permanent race track in the world, so attractive. It is no coincidence that the Nordschleife has such a varied route. Right from the initial planning in 1925, the ring was to be more than “just” a race track. It was called the “First German Mountain Race and Test Track in the Adenau District”, a kind of open-air laboratory for the vehicle industry. Today something like this would be called a simulation program for road conditions as they occur in everyday life. But it would be a waste when visiting the Nurburgring to limit yourself to this, albeit successful, imitation, where the original is on the doorstep. South of Adenau, a serpentine right behind Breitscheid leads left up the mountain towards Kaltenborn and Hohe Acht. The clip-on handlebars and the far-forward posture that the Guzzi demands of you are ideal for this steep climb. At the top you can still expect asphalt, as you know it mainly from southern countries: warped, cracked, patched, wavy. The 1100er drives over it unmoved. After many curves, the road crosses the ridge below the Hohe Acht, descends again into the valley, where it nestles against the course of a picturesque stream. Fortunately, the descent is quite flat. The handstand on the handlebars is still limited. Through Siebenbach, Lengenfeld and Mayen, the path meets the Laacher See near Mendig. The sleepy impression of the water is deceptive. A volcano is seething beneath the Eifel: a bubble filled with magma at temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celsius, which at this point could rise right below the surface of the earth. And here, at today’s Maria Laach Monastery, around 11,000 years ago the melt water from the last Ice Age seeped into the magma bubble and transformed the underground cathedral into a gigantic steam boiler. The following explosion tore the Eifel apart with the force of atomic bombs: the tuff hills that border the Eifel between Bad Breisig and Koblenz towards the Rhine – and which the enterprising Eifel building materials industry will soon be dredged down to the last crumb and in thermal bricks and baked paving stones – originally contained several cubic kilometers of volcanic ash from this eruption. It is impressive how close hell and heaven can be when you walk around the former explosive crater, that quiet Laacher See, in an hour and a half, and watch the swallows flying in the open cloister of the nearby Maria Laach monastery church in the south of the Basaltriegel and the other large Eifel river, the Ahr in the northeast, have also eaten into the surface of the earth: in the middle, this area is only gently undulating. In the central part, the landscape is almost reminiscent of a high plateau. The knolls are grassy or covered by fields. The forest, however, nestles in the peripheral depressions and valley cuts. With good reason: The Eifel is facing the first mountain range against the weather moving from the north-west, from the Atlantic towards Europe. And what promised to be a warm, sunny early summer day in front of the inn in the valley often turns out to be a drafty late spring on the first hilltop, which blows the warmth out of the leather suit in spite of the bright sunshine, so quickly back down to the next valley. The Guzzi, the “thing from the ring”, drives – after the first familiarization – very well. The nickname for the sporty Guzzi comes from the moor bike journalist »Klacks« – Ernst Leverkus. When the first high-performance motorcycles appeared in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s, good chassis and brakes were far from being taken for granted. That is why the machines were chased through all gaits for the test on the Nurburgring. A predecessor of the Guzzi 1100 Sport, the 1971 Le Mans I, had established itself on the Ring as a reference class in chassis construction for many years and earned this nickname. The strong V2 heart effortlessly pushes the yellow Italian back up the next slope. The winding ascents and descents belong almost alone to motorcyclists during the week. On the weekends, however, the hiking and coffee tourism from the nearby Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan areas and the Benelux countries strikes mercilessly. Buses and caravans, hikers and bicycle tourists everywhere. Fortunately, there is also the quiet, quiet Eifel. And the best way to get to know this Eifel can not be marked yellow and thin enough on the map. Such a route leads to Monreal, southwest of Mayen, on the way to Daun. The muffled roar of the two-cylinder dies away and gives way to the contemplative murmur of a weir. In the small town, wedged into the Elzbach valley, lovers of half-timbered art and cobblestone pavement fall into a frenzy. From Monreal, the Guzzi follows the winding country road, always along the course of the Elzbach, in the direction of Daun. 60 kilometers southwest of the Laacher See then again circular openings that break through the earth. Here, too, it was volcanism. But the approximately 10,000 year old maars are little more than geological pits compared to the former steam explosion at Lake Laacher See. Five kilometers south of Daun, there is no longer lava flowing today, but bronze with a temperature of 1200 degrees. The Eifel bell foundry Mark is located in Brockscheid. When the glowing metal runs here every four weeks for the glory of God in forms of clay and horse manure, it is always a victory of centuries-old experience over pure science. Because why the bells of the Eifel masters produce such a wide range of tones is still opposed to mathematical-analytical calculation today – but enough amazed. We continue on the road towards Kyllburg. At the height of Manderscheid, a little road branches off into the picturesque Kyll valley. The next 40 kilometers via Gerolstein to Prum belong solely to cornering in the flat river valley. The center of Prum is characterized by the »Eifeldom«, the basilica of the Benedictine monastery. The baroque “new building” built from 1721 goes back to a church, for the inauguration of which in 799 even Emperor Charlemagne and Pope Leo III found their way to the winter-cold Schnee Eifel – the Schneifel. A tip to avoid unpleasant surprises: The splash guard on the rear wheel should not be missing. Especially in spring, the Prum traffic lanes are more papal than the Pope. Prevention can save several Marks in indulgence fees. There are several attractive routes to get to the lovely town of Monschau in the northern Eifel. A path leads in the Prumtal along the direction of Ormont, in order to take the direction Hellental, Schleiden and Monschau over the Kronenberger See. But there are also recommendable routes in a north-westerly direction. But you have to look for it, because the wild and romantic Belgian Eifel, which begins ten kilometers further behind the border and soon merges into the high moor of the High Fens, is little developed. The road from Prum via Herscheid to Schonberg in Belgium is worth a detour. At the T junction there, you can choose between Sankt Vith, Ambleve, Bullange and Butgenbach and the Venn and Lakes Route towards Monschau, or right through the Our Valley to Hellental / Schleiden. The Eifel town itself takes a few hours Time. Drivers will stay a little longer, however, because parking spaces in the old town are only available for motorbikes. The beautifully restored old town center, located in the narrow Rur valley, overflows with half-timbered houses, stucco putti, restaurants, street cafes – and also with tourists on weekends. For this reason alone, it is advisable to visit on a Friday or Monday. But even more because of the next 40 kilometers around the Rursee. Hardly out of the Monschauer Gorge, a dream road begins, which is unfortunately closed to motorcyclists on weekends and public holidays. From Imgenbroich down to Einrur am Rursee, then via Rurberg and Steckenborn up towards Nideggen, and from there back into the valley to Heimbach – such a combination of route, curves and views can only be found in the Alps. You don’t want to stop cornering here – the most beautiful connection between two bends is just a bend – even in the Eifel. From Heimbach in the direction of Gemund, even more dream serpentines lead up the mountain. Halfway up on the right, white baroque buildings that are worth seeing interrupt the rhythm again. The Mariawald pilgrim monastery, whose canteen is famous for its pea stew, is right on the way. But stay away from the Trappist beer with the soup: the strong beer brewed by monks has more rotations than some wine. Saint Christopher certainly has no objection to a few bottles in his tank bag for the evening after the tour. The next 30 kilometers of the Eifel tour are accompanied by witnesses from 30,000 years of human history. From Gemund via Kall and Kallmuth ever narrower roads lead east to Weyer. The impressive Kakus stalactite cave is right next to the route. Cave bears and Neanderthals once lay on their bear skin here. In the immediate vicinity, at Kallmuth and Vussem, the remains of an aqueduct testify to the architecture of the ancient Romans. And from here the Guzzi starts again via Bad Munstereifel in the direction of Bad Neuenahr / Ahrweiler directly into the 21st century: In a basin near Effelsberg, the huge parabolic antenna of a radio telescope rises up – like a large, mobile space ear into infinity. Even the Guzzi is silent in awe – and because the vantage point can only be reached via a staircase. The road through Effelsberg comes in sizeable serpentines to Altenahr, where you then turn right back onto the B 257 to Adenau. The “thing from the ring” passed its round in the Eifel with flying colors. No wonder, because anyone who has a predecessor like Le Mans I, which has already proven itself on the “First German Mountain, Race and Test Track in the Adenau District”, does not need any problems on the model of the race track – namely the real Eifel roads to fear. Except for those not really getting to drive. Because even if the route and the elevation relief of the ring imitate the Eifel roads pretty closely: The track builders at the Nurburgring have left out the many half-timbered houses and the bell foundries, the architectural monuments, the serpentines and the romantic town crossings of the original Eifel. Otherwise the Moto Guzzi Le Mans I in 1971 would never have become a myth on the ring, because “clack” would not have achieved a reasonable lap time for all the strolling, looking and being amazed.

Info – Eifel

Around the legendary Nordschleife of the Nurburgring, countless winding roads lead through the varied landscape of the Eifel, an Eldorado for motorcyclists – if the weather cooperates: the region is considered a notorious rain hole.

How to get there: The quickest route from Cologne to the heart of the Eifel is via the A 61 motorway in the direction of Koblenz and then via the A 1 to Blankenheim. Those arriving from the south should turn from the A 61 near Koblenz to the A 48 and drive to the Daun exit.Accommodation: Few regions in Germany are as well developed for tourism as the Eifel. Quarters of any quality can therefore be found practically always and everywhere and are often surprisingly cheap due to the fierce competition. A night at the campsite is available for 20 marks per person, simple boarding houses cost from 35 marks per person, and a neat hotel can often be found for 60 to 70 marks per night. But even those who want to spend 250 marks and more per night will find what they are looking for: for example in the Dorinth Hotel directly on the Nurburgring and in the classicist palaces around the casino in Bad Neuenahr, except for major events such as concerts and Grand Prix weekends on the Nurburgring The search for a place to stay up to 20 kilometers around the Ring can be unsuccessful – or, thanks to »special prices«, it can at least become horrendously expensive. It is therefore advisable to find out about major events at the Tourist Information Center at the Nurburgring, phone 02691 / 9206-0, fax 9206-14, before setting off for a long weekend in this area. Further information on accommodation and the region is available from Eifel-Touristik Nordrhein-Westfalen eV, phone 02253/6075, fax 5306 Literature: If you are looking for a well-founded reference work on the Eifel, please refer to the HB picture atlas »Eifel« or the HB volume number 121 “Eifel-Aachen”, which was expanded to include the beauties of the imperial city, not around. Price 12.80 marks each. One of the best maps of this region is the Mairs General Map, sheet 4, on a scale of 1: 200,000, for 14.80 marks. The ADAC also offers a very detailed Eifel map on a scale of 1: 200,000, the double sheet 12/15 Federal Republic of Germany (free for ADAC members).

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