On the road with Maximilian Semsch on the Alb-Cross
Crossing the Swabian Alb with an eBike
The Swabian Alb is certainly one of the most beautiful uplands in Germany and stretches from Donauwörth to Tuttlingen over an area of almost 6000 km². The challenging Alb cross leads across the Alb hills, which I rode for 250 km, covering 4,200 metres in altitude. Anyone who likes it sporty and loves a challenge will be thrilled by the Alb crossing.
Arrive comfortably by train
I travelled comfortably by train, first to Stuttgart, then by S-Bahn to Kirchheim unter Teck. From there it is only seven kilometres to Owen, where I spent the first night of the trip. Owen is situated directly below Teck Castle, and the cycle path, which is marked with yellow 'X-ing' signs, passing right by my accommodation.
The history of the pretzel
The first day started with a few comfortable kilometres in the valley via Beuren to Neuffen, directly followed by the first climb with a 15% gradient up to Hohenneuffen Castle. Despite being on an eBike, I worked up a good sweat and was rewarded 20 minutes later with a magnificent panoramic view. From the 12th-century castle complex, you have a magnificent 360° panoramic view. The Alb-Cross runs along many unpaved paths, mostly far from the road and through rugged, beautiful nature. After a rapid descent past a crystal clear stream, I reached Bad Urach, where I met my first native Swabian. Heiner Beck (56 years old) is a master baker and owner of 18 branches of the bakery 'Becka Beck'. He uses organic ingredients from the region whenever possible, even the caraway seeds come from the Albs, and I had a lunch date with him to try some white sausage. During the meal, Heiner also told me the history of the pretzel, which was invented in Bad Urach in 1477: "The master baker at the time had fallen out of favour with Count Eberhard and had been sentenced to death. He could only save himself by baking a loaf of bread within three days, through which the sun would shine three times. When the master baker saw his wife with her arms folded, the shape of the pretzel was born. Unfortunately, the baker dropped the pretzel into the lye used for cleaning before baking. Since he had no more time, he simply baked the pretzel with the lye. And the count was delighted, the master baker was saved, and we've been eating pretzels for over 500 years."
Good thing I had Nyon with me
I cycled on via Reutlingen, Mössingen and Genkingen to my stage destination in Lichtenstein. From my room I had a wonderful view of Lichtenstein Castle, or was it rather Lichtenstein Fortress, perched 300 metres above me on a rocky outcrop? I was able to talk about this the next morning with Eberhard Etter, who has been working up here as a castle administrator for ten years. First I had to find my way to the castle, which was not so easy in dense fog, drizzle and a visibility of 50 metres. It's a good thing that on my trip I also had the new Nyon on-board computer from Bosch eBike Systems for testing. As I had downloaded the GPX tracks of the trip in advance, orientation was never a problem for me.
As Eberhard explained to me at the beginning, Lichtenstein Castle is the only fairytale castle in the world. As a Bavarian, I naturally had to raise the objection that there was also Neuschwanstein Castle.
"We are the only castle here that was built because of a fairytale. In the 19th century, Wilhelm Hauff wrote fairy tales such as 'Der Kleine Muck', 'Das kalte Herz' and also 'Die Geschichte des Kalif Storch'. Shortly before his early death at the age of 25, he published the novel 'Lichtenstein'. This novel, in turn, was as successful in the 19th century as Harry Potter is today. It is about murder, manslaughter and love and the fictional Lichtenstein Castle appeared in the novel. Duke Wilhelm fell so much in love with the story, the Middle Ages and the castle that he unceremoniously rebuilt the castle that was described," Eberhard says by way of explanation. By the way, the impressive interiors can be visited on a guided tour.
Always enough energy – for the eBike battery as well
At lunchtime, I stopped by for a portion of spaetzle at Alb-Gold, a regional pasta producer. Who would have thought that Swabians have more than ten different types of spaetzle? This gave me a chance to recharge my batteries, since Alb-Gold and many other restaurants and hotels have public eBike charging stations, the Bosch PowerStations.
To finish the day, there was a five-kilometre descent down to Risiberg, a small village with five houses. Arriving at Landgasthof Waldeck, I stowed my bike in the garage and was able to store my battery directly in the lockable Bosch charging station and charge it at the same time.
"Hurry over, there's free beer!"
From Risiberg it was only 20 kilometres to Tuttlingen, the destination of my little journey. But before that I had a stop in Wurmlingen at the Hirsch brewery. At almost 83 years old, senior director Rainer Honer still works at the brewery, a family business for five generations. Mr Honer told me with pride that his beers had won several awards, and although it was a public holiday, he took two hours to show me around. There is a beer museum next to the brewery devoted to the history of beer brewing over the past centuries.
"I can still remember when I started here in the early 1960s, when the Albs was still a poor region which cannot be compared to today. Back then, when I went to an inn as the junior director, word spread like wildfire, and people said the junior director of the brewery is here, hurry up, because there's free beer," Mr Honer told me in broad dialect and with a big grin on his face.
My conclusion – It was a great eBike ride
As I cycled the last few kilometres to the station in Tuttlingen, I reviewed the journey and my conclusion was: a great challenging ride for the experienced biker. Wide, off-road tyres are a clear advantage. A spare battery can be helpful or a longer lunch break to use one of the many charging stations. And most importantly, don't forget your rain gear!
You can find more information about the Alb-Cross here: