Parental advisory: We’re talking about alcohol consumption, freedom on two wheels and the art of winemaking. We met an aristocrat with a rock’n’roll past, discovered a cellar full of wine, explored hills with hidden pathways, and found out why ebiking is so much more than just riding trails – and why wine is not the only drug keeping our spirits high on this ride.
Just half an hour north of Stuttgart, trail paradise awaits: Welcome to Beilstein, a region renowned not only for its extensive and extraordinary legal trail network, but also for its exquisite wines. We grabbed our ebikes for an after-work ride with a local winemaker, culminating in a delicious wine tasting. Our conversations went far beyond wine, delving into topics such as barrel ageing, essential bike gear, and even exploring philosophical questions about life and freedom. But don’t just take our word for it; read on to discover the full story.
With a small vineyard comes great responsibility
Our local winemaker and trail guide was Felix – or to use his full title: Felix Graf Adelmann von Adelmannsfelden, which roughly translates to: Count Felix Nobleman from Noblemansfield. That’s quite a lot of nobility in one name, but to us, he was just Felix, as the trail is a great leveller, and bikers are always on a first-name basis anyway. Not to mention, Felix, with his unorthodox and down-to-earth character, is so much more than just a title.
He took over his father’s winery and turned it upside down: Felix introduced new varieties of wine, gave it a fresh label, and made it all organic. The latter was driven primarily by idealism towards health and mother nature, rather than for economic reasons, as the output per hectare of vines fell to less than half of that of the average German winery. Embracing organic practices also meant more manual labour, leading Felix to shoulder the responsibility of managing a dozen employees and a heap of obligations – everything the mid-forties bon vivant never actually wanted.
So, with all of that in mind, how does freedom still fit into his everyday life? The answer is the ebike, and its promise of quick and guaranteed relaxation without breaking too much of a sweat. Out into the woods, along the vineyards and onto the trails, where freedom winds its way down the hillside in narrow pathways. Worries are not drowned in fermented grape juice; instead, they dissipate with every turn of the pedals. Felix took us on such a “brain-juicing ride” but in the end, we still had the wine anyway 😉
The ebike as your key to freedom – Fire up the brain-juicer
Not all of us are lords of the manor, but many of us can relate to a career path similar to Felix’s. After all, life is a journey made of phases and many transformations. In his teenage years, Felix made the shift from MTB to electric guitar. Living the rock’n’roll lifestyle: concerts, alcohol, limited sleep, late-night rehearsals, and partying until the break of dawn. Perhaps this resonates with many of us, at least a little… rebelling against parents, the rigid system, and ebikes. The only thing that really matters is to be against it.
But before you know it, you are conforming to conventions and society’s expectations, getting some form of formal education, settling down and committing to a partner or dog. Sure, living in a castle like Felix would be nice, but since that’s probably rather unrealistic, most of us are happy enough with an apartment and a basement full of bikes. As you go through these stages of your life, sooner or later you’ll realise what you’ve sacrificed for them. Life is a whirlwind of activities and events, but the freedom and independence you once cherished seem to have been lost along the way. This often leads to what’s commonly known as a midlife crisis. But to reclaim a bit of freedom – and in Felix’s case, to break free from those oppressive castle walls – you don’t have to go to extremes and kick the dog out. Some people opt for a fast car, a motorbike or an ebike (the price tags aren’t as different as you might think 😉). Whatever “tool of freedom” you choose, the ebike surely is the one with the lowest follow-up costs, such as insurance, registration or a roadworthiness certificate – in other words, more of the very obligations you were trying to escape from in the first place.
Just hop on, whether in swimming trunks and a t-shirt, or in proper bike gear with a mobile phone holder on the handlebar and rear light on the saddle; none of these details matter on your tour through life. The important thing is to get out into the vineyard, the woods or to the ice-cream parlour in town. It doesn’t matter if the battery is fully charged or half-empty: it’s still a bike, and you can use it without the motor. The more power you put into those pedals, the less energy you have left to worry about life.
No alcohol is not the solution either
“In vino veritas” (Alcaeus of Lesbos); “For sorrows, the dear life provides. And worry breakers are the vines.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe); “It’s a pity you can’t caress wine.” (Kurt Tucholsky (the old chauvinist)). Whichever poet you choose, they have all philosophised about (or under the influence of?) wine. But wine is not your typical anaesthetic like other alcohol; there seems to be much more to it than that. Maybe it’s just what we attribute to it, but behind wine lies culture, science, and the whole world of trying and failing – just like in real life. There are countless wineries around the world. But centralisation through large suppliers, such as the Coca-Cola Company in soft drinks, has (fortunately) never worked in the wine market. The exclusivity of the product and the individual character of the wines and winemakers are imperative for its success. This leaves room for free spirits like Felix, who prefers to order a beer at a wine convention and doesn’t pay too much attention to labels (except on bottles). The ebike community is as diverse as the wine world – everyone rides how, when, with whom and, above all, for as long as they like. The motor can act as a balancing element between different fitness levels, but it will never be the core of the activity. Because what it’s really about takes place in your head.
At some point in the day or in life, we all reach a moment where we crave a deeper connection with ourselves, yearn for more freedom and excitement, or simply need to clear our heads. While owning a whole winery or just enjoying a few glasses of good wine can provide temporary release, a ride on your ebike can be even more invigorating, taking you to new places and experiences – without the hangover the next day. All you have to do is to get on and go!
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Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Julian Schwede