Mountain road

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Mountain road

Mountain road
Life on the Edge

A maximum of two kilometers wide and 60 long – the mountain road alone does not lure a biker into the saddle with its data. But here it is the height of fall. Anyone who has once looked down into the Rhine Valley from Auerbach Castle will understand what it is about.

Annette Johann


A few more gentle hills, a paddock, and keep to the right in Wiesloch, then it should actually begin, the Bergstrasse. A central connecting route, as ancient as the Gotthard or the Via Appia, originated in prehistoric times, neatly paved by the Romans and flanked with castles in the Middle Ages – Broadway of the old world, so to speak, which leads dramatically along the steep eastern edge of the Odenwald. At the moment, however, it only appears down here between Wiesloch and Heidelberg as a noisy L 594 with the charm of the Ruhr Expressway and is terribly annoying. The sign “Bergstrasse”, touching in Sutterlin script, is lost somewhere between Cosi-Wash and Multi-Markt. Above it are the first Heidelberg satellite towns made of glass and steel, strange and cool like French ski resorts in summer. The country road is mutating more and more, finally flooding into the Neckar metropolis of Heidelberg in four lanes. Soon, increasingly dark-skinned faces populate the sidewalks, the cars have more and more American registrations on the bumpers, the Tom Sawyer-Weg branches off, four-story barracks line them Road. The headquarters of the European US armed forces are located in Heidelberg. The love of the American army commanders for the beautiful old town helped Heidelberg unscathed as in the eye of the hurricane by the bombing of the Second World War, while all the industrial cities were reduced to rubble and ashes. For the morning after, the winners wanted to leave a nice little spot for themselves: Weinheim and internal medicine straight ahead, Thorax and Eberstadt branch off to the right to the Neckar – Heidelberg’s signposts exude the charm of an emergency room. It is obvious that one of the most important German university hospitals is located here and that orientation about it is at least as important as the local geography. I leave the thorax and the lock on the right, follow surgery and internal medicine together with trolleybus line four to the north. As beautiful as Heidelberg may be, on a warm summer’s day the idea of ​​strolling through town in motorcycle clothing is as tempting as Tenerife in a jersey costume. The city disappears, and the Dossenheim sign, which always looks a bit like a typo, follows. Residential houses, gas station stores and used car spaces are not tearing down. The first vineyards are already appearing on the gradually building hills of the Odenwald, but according to the map there is no road leading there. Does not matter. I resolutely pave my way through the countless birch, finch and anemone paths of the single-family house areas, until I finally reach the vineyards via small farm roads and stand in front of an incomparable view over the Rhine valley. This is it, the actual mountain road, this edge between heaven and earth, which jumps over 400 meters between the Odenwald and the Rhine. Cool above, calm and clear, below hot, hectic and lively like at Karstadt on a long Saturday. The mega traffic artery of southwest Germany, with two north-south autobahns, an express train line, the largest river in the country, eight federal and countless country and district roads between Darmstadt and Heidelberg alone. The first autobahn was built here, Rudolph Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer held their races here, and the first automobile even drove here, as I later learned in Schriesheim from a landlady who told me about Carl Benz, who lived in as a neighbor of her grandparents Ladenburg was working on his first motor vehicle. “And his wife always had to try these things out,” the old lady explains proudly, having passed the house right here, “on the B 3 to Bensheim.” That was usually Berta’s turning point, because there was a pharmacy there with petrol. As phenomenal as Berta Benz may have felt back then on the B 3, a hundred years later the route is simply too full, too straight and too boring. Sorry, Berta, but I’m temporarily escaping into the curves of the Odenwald, which begins right behind the Starkenburg. The road climbs gently towards Wilhelmsfeld, next to me the small Kanzelbach meanders gently through the valley between willow bushes and meadows. The heat lingers in the Rhine Valley, I swing through the curves with a sigh of relief, enjoying the almost forgotten feelings of banking. I turn off to Heiligkreuzsteinach, the Odenwald adds a few more meters in altitude, the route becomes more difficult. I quickly let the agile Ducati tip into the curves, everything becomes a single, exciting opening and closing of the throttle, a lighter or deeper hiss of the twin. Two kilometers to Eiterbach, the road looks boldly small on the map and strangely gray instead of yellow in the middle section. Despite it. The poor stream with the turn-off name gushes brightly and clearly right next to the little car-wide road, behind it meadows that merge into dense forests at the valley edges. Shortly after the village, the asphalt actually ends, only a forest path that is open for use on working days continues. Well then, I wanted it small. The wide, easy-to-drive gravel path winds in bends through the forest, along ferns and wood collection points, possibly still offering hiking signs for orientation. A mountain biker rushes by, an old man pushing his bike up the incline gives me a friendly wave. I cross several branches a little disoriented, but it can’t get too complicated in the Odenwald. At some point the first houses, the asphalt surface is crumbling again and brings me back to life. And how! After just a few kilometers, just below the 577 meter high Tromm, I find myself in a wonderful labyrinth of curves, whizzing back west in quick alternating combinations. At Rimbach there is another minimal passage, I also find the branch to Albersbach, chug through extensive meadows, and then suddenly they stand in front of me: horses, beautiful, a whole herd, 40 or 50, black horses, gray horses, brown ones with me light and dark manes, all kinds, large, muscular animals and foals, still stalking around awkwardly. What a sight, I have never seen so many of these fascinating four-legged friends at once. It doesn’t matter that the path doesn’t go any further, I turn off the engine and can’t tear myself away from the beautiful animals for a long time. At some point I drive on, let the Odenwald carry me gently and, for once, without a hard tear-off edge back down to the mountain road. Like soft cotton wool surrounds me with every lost meter of altitude again its warmth and the now familiar hectic pace. I land in Heppenheim, its headquarters, so to speak, feeling my way through the access roads, shopping malls, bypasses and narrow old town streets into the heart of the city. A few more corners, then the little rubbish bin-wide street comes to an end and a beautiful medieval market square spreads out in front of me. The deafening chimes of the town hall clock tossed around like Casimodo, I step between the hundreds of years old half-timbered houses that surround the square. Above the gables and street canyons, the surrounding vineyards shine green into the city. When the bells fall silent, an almost medieval muffledness spreads. Despite children bathing in the market fountain, despite a duck that walks strangely out of place across the cobblestones, despite businesspeople discussing and ringing cell phones, despite bright brewery sunshades in front of the cafes – it doesn’t matter, this place has an aura, creates a tingly contact surface between old and young New. At the hairdresser “Palma Stilista” behind almost 500-year-old walls, the curls are easily twisted, the “solar and energy consultancy” places its collectors between the sandstone arches and the PCs of the city administration in the town hall from 1551 are rustling. It is already evening and the shops gradually close. Two old ladies pull up to their doorstep with a folding table and late harvest, a few editors of the local newspaper go through the latest local gossip at the Italian, a colleague from the balcony across the street shouts a few joking words. It’s not Siena’s Piazza del Campo, but it’s almost as beautiful. This space is enough in itself. I want to use the last light, drive to the highest point of the Bergstrasse, Auerbach Castle, directly at the 517 meter high Melibokus. It goes up in beautiful bends until long rows of parked cars accompany the last few meters. The Auerbach Castle is a very special kind of attraction – it offers real knight life, living history, as the people of the New World say. The first sounds of bagpipes and lyre can already be heard, theater dialogues emerge from the window caves of the ruin, junkers and damsels hurry across the courtyard with bowls and plates. Today there is the so-called Rittermal, for 89 marks feast and drink like d´oid knights, advance notice is essential. Eat with hands and daggers, drink mead from thick jugs, throw the bones under the table. “With a surcharge also with herald,” a damsel informs me. With Herold? “Yes, he will then show the menu card.” Aha. In order to cope with the rush, people move from the castle restaurant to large tents in the castle courtyard at peak times. No less than three companies dine here between chain mail and halberd. In the semi-darkness I feel my way to the tower stairs and climb the dark spiral stairs. At the top, the mountain road catches me one last time with its full broadside – the view is dizzying: the Rhine valley spreads out in front of me from horizon to horizon, gently transfigured by the last orange rays of sunshine. In the far west the silhouette of the Palatinate Forest and the cooling towers of Biblis are dark, south of it the metropolises Mannheim and Ludwigshafen, in the opposite direction, in the evening haze you can guess more than you can see the last foothills of the Darmstadt and Frankfurt suburbs. In between a green-brown checkerboard pattern of meadows and fields. A slightly recomposed song by Ougenweide is being played below, while the salmon volleys of the theater audience roar in the background. A tree grows right behind me. In the middle of the battlement. A sturdy crippled pine, the roots of which protrude from the ground like the veins of the back of a hand and claw far across the battlements. Incredible, she can have a maximum of ten to 20 centimeters of soil available. The sun is now sinking blood red, the small road to Seeheim-Jugenheim shimmers brightly again in the backlight – it is the last kilometers of the mountain road. Quieter, quieter and finally beyond the noisy B 3, allotment gardens will replace the vines there, the Odenwald mountains gradually get lower. But this incredible scent will still be in the air. Intense and heavy from the breath of innumerable flowers and fruits, pouring out of every pore after a warm summer day and merging into a bewitching mixture. This is the mountain road. Finally.


The Bergstrasse is a beautiful, but not an easy tour destination for motorcyclists. Here it is important to create a clever route between the Bergstrasse and the Odenwald.

Arrival: The Bergstrasse region begins in the north around 30 kilometers south of Frankfurt and ends in the south near Heidelberg. The easiest way to get there is via the Rheintal Autobahn A 5 / A 67 or, in the south, via the A 6 in the direction of Heilbronn. The route: The Bergstrasse runs largely over the B 3 from Wiesloch to Darmstadt. Simply following it offers hardly any driving experience value for motorcycle travelers. However, to cross them again and again on a tour through the adjacent Odenwald, to experience them in stages and to enjoy their old half-timbered towns, castles and the fabulous views from them, is an extremely delightful weekend tour with great contrasts. Depending on the time allotment, the little bends of the Odenwald can be included more or less extensively. Travel time: The Bergstrasse wine-growing region offers good conditions from April through October thanks to its mild climate. At most in the Odenwald it can still or already be cool. In return, its wooded mountain ranges and stream valleys offer a wonderfully fresh program to complement the heat in the valley in summer.Overnight: The Bergstrasse / Odenwald region is well developed for tourism and has hotels and guest houses in almost all of the larger villages. You can spend the night there from around 40 marks per night and nose. Except in Heidelberg, no special pre-planning of the tour is required. The foreign traffic authorities in the individual locations will send out room certificates. This is responsible for Bergstrasse in 64646 Heppenheim, Grober Markt 3, phone 06252/13171. Activities: A special attraction of the tour are the many castles along the mountain road, almost all of which are managed and are always worth a visit. Auerbach Castle near Bensheim offers a remarkable calendar of events, with an open-air theater, knight games and knight’s meal. Information on phone 06251/72923. Literature: There are only hiking guides on Bergstrasse and Odenwald. A detailed map is sufficient in this case. Our tip: The general map of Marco Polo, sheet 18. The mountain road, all castles and the streets mentioned are listed in it. Distance covered: around 250 kilometers Time required: long weekend

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