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Michael Schroder: my home route
Michael Schroder: my home route
Swabian home run
Nothing beats your personal home route. Why? Nowhere do you appear more confident, is self-confidence greater, is it so easy to steal prey. No other course is more historically valuable and has so many stories and anecdotes to offer. For these reasons alone, you should never, ever deviate from the route you have chosen.
Summer 1993. The first ride into the Swabian pampas. Gilles, graphic artist at sister magazine PS, kidnaps MOTORRAD newcomer Schroder on a joint after-work trip. It was followed by three hours between heaven and hell, between knees on the ground (with my colleague) and completely twisted curve radii (with me). Place names never belonged to that and what felt like 500 changes of direction per kilometer. My senses rotated (I would never have found my way back on my own), Gilles, on the other hand, seemed to have merged with the asphalt, was one with himself and the world that flew by as a hallucinogenic wipe effect. We moved on his terrain, on his home route.
For a few years we regularly repeated this trip through the Swabian Forest to Abtsgmund and back again. Always on the exact same route. No detours, no experiments, no tough discussions about where to go. Even the breaks always followed the same pattern. Coffee at Ebnisee, curry sausage in Gaildorf, amazed at discarded fighter planes in Seifertshofen, which were parked there on a meadow. Everyone knew where he was and what to expect around the next corner. Something like that works even without many words (or precisely because of it), welds the opponents together for a short period of time in the evening or on the weekend to form a perfectly acting team. The rest of the world? Is completely faded out, only the moment counts. Just great.
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Swabian home run
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Incidentally, this course was indelibly burned into my memory – even as a lone rider, Gilles had meanwhile ended up in Luxembourg, I was always drawn to the same path. The familiar suddenly seemed more attractive than the foreign: the curiosity that usually drives me on my travels no longer played a role. Why also? Curves and hairpin bends were perfectly arranged. Once the sequence was internalized, the fun factor rose to the limit, followed by the pursuit of the perfect lap (and each time the tragic realization that such an undertaking cannot work at around 150 kilometers). Besides, it was about the honor. Another biker in front of the bow? An unbearable state. Sneak up, lay down, strike (preferably in a passage that is as demanding as possible, as it hurts particularly). When things went well, my wife could tell by her eyes at home. At some point I spoke of MY home route.
May 2007. It may well be that 100 laps have come together to date, maybe there were 200. Something like that is difficult to understand. However, lately we’ve become a little bit estranged, my track and me. Too little time. With two children, the word after work takes on a completely new meaning – you are already satisfied when you have enough time to look into the garage in the evening. All the more precious the moment when the Ducati approaches the eastern city limits of Stuttgart. A bit along the Neckar, the sharp left bend on the B 14 (in fact the first test of courage), immediately behind it vineyards in a spacious semicircle. Probably no other big city ends so abruptly in the green as the Swabian metropolis. 20 kilometers of expressway to Winnenden. Two lanes, straight ahead, compulsively meditative. It’s good when things get really hectic in the office or at home.
In Hertmannsweiler, a tiny traffic island marks the exit from the town and, at the same time, the end of the, one could almost say “introductory round”. From now on (kilometer 0) it applies. Take a deep breath and recharge. Pik-fine asphalt uphill and a perfect, long loop through dense forest up to Stockenhof. Breathe a sigh of relief and eyes right. The elevated position allows a fabulous view of the distance (kilometer 5). With friends from northern Germany in tow, anchor is regularly dropped here for the first time. At the sight of the blurred contours of the Swabian Alb, the lowlands are always as surprised as if the Himalayas were there.
Immediately afterwards the path disappears again into the forest. Fast curves in slight ups and downs, flanked by a dark wall that, now in summer, has grown together just above the hat. The rays of the sun do not penetrate through there, at most a few points of light that dance on the asphalt. A roller coaster ride in the tunnel would be the closest thing to this. The paths that branch off into the botany next to the route – an Eldorado for mountain bikers. The hand twitches on the brake. Once a cyclist carelessly crossed from right to left. We were both very lucky.
Kilometer 10: Kallenberg. Magnificent residential areas on the left side of the slope. Gardens as big as soccer fields, children on horses and the view over the hills and the forest as a bonus. Swabian Bullerbu. Maybe move to the country after all? I would finally have a reason to buy one of those ride-on lawnmowers that I always sneak around in the hardware store, and I could start some exciting off-road adventures with my son right from the terrace. The sharp left bend behind the last house immediately suppresses any thought that is not about driving. If you don’t immediately hit the gas here, the jump over the hilltop will be ruined immediately afterwards.
Lutzenberg, Althutte, the razor-sharp valley depression (kilometer 14), which, passionately taken, goes powerfully into the chassis, finally Ebni and there, shortly before the end of the village, the junction towards Hagerhof. Hardly as wide as a car, the way, and on the map at a scale of 1: 200000 just recognizable as a hair-thin white line. Colorfully speckled flower meadows alternate with dense coniferous forest. Freshly felled trunks lie next to the route and give off an intense smell of wood and resin. A touch of Canada, every time a pleasure after steaming in the Stuttgart city boiler. For this moment you like to slow down. Maximum third gear and the right hand just above idle. If only because of the many strollers with children and dogs. Under the weight of countless trekkers, the pavement has long since brushed its sails and is only partially the terrain of a Ducati. It doesn’t matter, you drive a long way here because it’s just beautiful. A long way after the fantastically located Hofgut Schmalenberg, you finally think you are on a climbing path: free fall to the country road just before Welzheim.
Ten kilometers north, take the third exit at the roundabout and down to Ebnisee. A parking lot in the valley, a log cabin-style kiosk, a couple of benches and tables made of heavy wood and a pot of coffee for an unrivaled one-fifty-five – a motorcycle get-together could hardly be more typical. Many are already there, the bikes arranged to the nearest centimeter. The sense of order seems to be very pronounced in two-wheeled circles. It is definitely a love of rituals: You drive here on weekends or on public holidays, end of the discussion – the small kiosk on Ebnisee as the culmination point for an estimated 1000 different routes in the Welzheimer Wald.
And an eternal stage for Gilles. No maneuver without a stoppie or wheelie, although the short straight between the lake and the parking lot is actually no place for tricks. Does not matter. Somehow it always worked. Only once had he exaggerated it mightily. A burnout like out of a picture book. The engine of his Fireblade screamed for his life, the tire had practically forfeited his. In the biting smoke, however, even the most die-hard fans of such inserts seriously ran out of air this time, and the applause, well, sponged it. Gilles has been generously circumventing this place for a while.
Back up to the roundabout, on to Kaisersbach (kilometer 36), Kirchenkirnberg (kilometer 42), Reippersberg (kilometer 49), and finally the “Zapfsaule” chip shop just before Gaildorf (kilometer 55). The partially unrestrained route up to this point tempts you to one or the other rash maneuver. May 1997. One turn and buddy Rainer very close to the stern. Just the old game. Ten meters further on we agreed on a tie, collected mirrors and footrests again and thought about how best to tell the test boss that two bikes from the long-term test fleet need some cosmetics.
But what annoyed us a lot more than the view of the Ruffel in the editorial office – we had failed shortly before the fillet of the route: the B 19 between Gaildorf and Abtsgmund. 27 kilometers along the winding stove. Hardly a straight meter and only three noteworthy towns. A damn lonely stretch of land by German standards. On some days we arced three times over this section. So intoxicated, you quickly forget the important things in life. For example, refueling. It’s annoying when you run out of fuel in a completely inclined position. Once it hit me pretty much in the middle, which Gilles didn’t notice until five kilometers later. By the time we had organized a canister of fuel, the day was over. As I said, there isn’t too much going on in this area. This is also reflected in the prices for building land: “50 euros per square meter”, seen on a sign in Sulzbach. In the direct vicinity of Stuttgart, twelve times as much is easily required.
U-turn at kilometer 82. Abtsgmund remains down in the narrow valley of the Kocher, from now on the path runs a good part over the Frickenhofer Hohe. The loveliness fell by the wayside somewhere halfway up here, suddenly it’s four or five degrees cooler. Every few kilometers there are small, half-timbered villages that stand up against wind and weather and sometimes also against modernity like sympathetic fortresses: they still exist here, the rustic corner shops, and people meet under the maypole, in front of the neat church in Hohenstadt or at the annual Lanz Bulldog Festival. Certainly the most questionable highlight in the province’s annual calendar: the tank show on the extensive grounds of the Technology and Farming Museum in Seiferts-hofen (kilometer 99). There you inevitably go into the irons. A weathered Sikorsky helicopter (the model from the TV series “A Trio with Four Fists”) high above the portal and, depending on how business is going, various fighter jets, tanks and cannons in all stages of decay in the front yard. The boss, according to the in-house website, collects things that others throw away. understood.
Keeping the beat. The road passes the schnitzel factory (kilometer 107) in Rotenhar (somehow there has never been enough time to stop in all these years), crosses Gschwend and after the place name sign again throws itself into the stuff. Full concentration again – the narrow zigzag course in the forest easily takes on any karting route. In Hundsberg (kilometer 116) a blue Subaru Impreza WRX is waiting in front of a courtyard entrance to be used. The Japanese designers must have had such routes in mind for the potent rally offshoot with the huge wing mechanism at the rear.
Welzheim, Ebnisee, Althutte, Stockenhof. The way home is the same as the outward journey. Yet not one meter like the other – you can hardly believe how strange the actually familiar path looks in the opposite direction. In fact, I once tried to rewind my home series the other way around. A company that completely failed. While I was able to come to terms with the curve radii to some extent, after a short time my sense of direction was simply overwhelmed with the many changes in direction. Your own fault if you rush through the botany for years as if by remote control without ever paying attention to a place-name sign. For a long time I could not even trace the course of the house route on a map.
The last swing. Via the village of Burg with its castle hotel “Schone Aussicht” (kilometer 144) down steeply to Winnenden. The slopes full of wine and a distant view until you drop. I slowly roll over the last golden spots on the warm asphalt, while the sun strikes the horizon like a glowing red ball of fire, only a few moments later it has completely disappeared. Maybe the best moment of the day. Gilles and I always took a short break here. Without a word and after this exhausting sprint with us and the world at peace. There are some things in life that really shouldn’t be changed.
The home route ?? a secret that you only share with your best friends? Perhaps. Maybe not. At this point, MOTORRAD editors will chat about their favorite routes at irregular intervals. One can be curious.
The loop described in the text does not claim to be the best of all routes in the Swabian-Franconian Forest Nature Park and on the edge of the Swabian East Alb. To the right and left of this course are countless no less attractive alternatives, flanked by a number of medieval towns. Especially worth seeing: Schabisch Hall.
If you are generally looking for interesting routes, we recommend the MOTORRAD tour planner 2007/2008: either accept one of the 800 tour suggestions or enter your own desired route on the screen, calculate it and print it out with all the information as a road book and / or map. Anyone who has one of the common GPS receivers (Garmin, TomTom) can also have their route transferred to it. Nice gimmick: the selected route can be exported to Google Earth and followed virtually.
The new Mercedes-Benz Museum in the Stuttgart district of Bad Cannstatt is a real tip. In the futuristic structure, everything revolves around 120 years of automotive history. The arrangement of the exhibits alone is worth a visit – technology can hardly be represented in a more sensual way. Info: Telephone 0711/1730000; www.museum-mercedes-benz.com.
A completely different approach is taken in the “Swabian Technology and Farming Museum” in Seifertshofen: The selection and exhibition of the exhibits (including a lot of scrap) is at best arbitrary. The military orientation is also questionable. Still a worthwhile detour for technology fans. Info: Telephone 07975/360; www.kc-itbus.de/kiemelemuseum.
Hunger, thirst, sleep? The cozy “Schwobastuble” (for North Germans: Schwabenstuble) in Ebni offers traditional Swabian cuisine (you should definitely try the homemade Maultaschen!) And arrange guest rooms in the village. Info: Telephone 07184/601; www.schwobastueble.de.
If it is too crowded at the motorcycle meeting point at Ebnisee, you should take your break in the »Laufenmuhle«: the restaurant on the route between Rudersberg and Welzheim has a great beer garden.
The respective sheets (here no. 16) of the waterproof and tear-resistant MOTORRAD general map in 1: 200000 are ideal companions: They also contain plenty of hotel tips and the addresses of motorcycle workshops. Price per sheet: 5.90 euros (in bookshops or at petrol stations).
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