Heidi instead of Corona

May I introduce myself? My name is Heidi, I am an NSU Quickly S from 1959 and I was built as a Swiss export model in Neckarsulm, Germany. My original colours are white and blue. (You might think: “Since when can mopeds talk?” But just take a closer look at vintage car drivers: many of them give names to their cars and talk to them as if they were human. This also applies to Markus Müller and his wife Petra.) In this travel report, I am going to tell you about our anniversary tour from the Technik Museum Sinsheim to Zug, Switzerland. I had never been to Switzerland before – due to the high demand, I had temporarily been delivered to a wholesaler in Munich. 

But let’s start at the beginning: After some detours, I eventually ended up with Markus Müller who I lovingly call “Patch!”. He had big plans for me and had me restored with a lot of effort. One of his reasons was his grandpa Heinz Stöpke, who, at the time, had to reluctantly exchange his beloved Quickly for an NSU Prinz for his family and his daily way to work. With me, Markus wanted to honour his memory. He also inherited his grandpa’s good sense of smell and his special sensitivity for the finest fruit spirits. This is where the Etter distillery comes into play. When Markus came to appreciate the product quality of the Etter distillery and noticed that he had a good chemistry with Gabriel Galliker-Etter, we both decided that we wanted to travel to the distillery for its 150th anniversary.

My current value exceeds my original value by far but in my opinion, it was worth it. During the almost three-year-long restoration, countless decorative details were added to me. Additionally, I am up to date due to my navigation system, my precise tracking system, and my jump-start equipment in case another biker needs help. You don’t believe me? Well, it’s the truth. 

Due to that and to my perfect history (original operating licence), I am the only NSU Quickly that is allowed to have a large “H licence plate” for vintage vehicles and be inspected by the German TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein, lit. Technical Inspection Association) every second year. To be fair, we would be allowed to drive on the highway if we wanted to but who wants to deal with traffic jams anyway?

Then, we took the above-mentioned trip. Originally, we had planned to be in Zug for the 2020 Chriesisturm (a traditional race with ladders through the old town). However, Corona put a spoke in my wheel but that didn’t stop us from going to Zug – rather the opposite in fact: it made us think “Now more than ever!” and our motto was: Heidi instead of Corona!

On Thursday before our big trip, we had the last test ride on the museum’s premises where we met Hermann Layher, the president of the museum. He congratulated us on the successful restoration and smiled about my licence plate. We took a nice group picture and he gave us some helpful travel advice. However, we still had to adjust one or two screws that night.

On Friday morning, June 19th, 2020, we started at the Technik Museum Sinsheim and completed the more than 500-kilometre-long trip on my own wheels in order to arrive at the Chriesmärt (Swiss cherry market) three days later. When we started our trip on Friday morning, we couldn’t have anticipated what would await us already in the first few kilometres.

The first road hog wasn’t a long time coming. At first, he kindly signalled us to pass – although we had the right of way anyway – but then, he decided in the very last second not to let us pass after all. My driver had no other choice but to brake energetically and perform a daring driving manoeuvre in order not to hit the rear of this nice fellow road user. At least that gave us the chance to test my brakes. I don’t know if I put him off his stride, however, he stopped and then turned around to drive off in another direction. Unfortunately, in this manoeuvre, my trailer’s towbar got twisted which led to my trailer starting to list on its right side. We then decided to take the cycle path, if possible, in order to get to our first service point in Baden-Baden as fast as possible.

Just before arriving in Karlsruhe, we had to drive on a rural road for a little while in order to get to the next cycle path. Suddenly, a truck brushed me – although the road was straight and there was no oncoming traffic – and the shock wave forced me to drive on the grass strip. Miraculously, we didn’t hit the crash barrier. After that, we needed a break. We finally arrived in Karlsruhe at around 5 pm but weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to the designated destination for the day: Lörrach, Germany. With a full tank, we at least tried to make it to our first stop: Baden-Baden. We were about to leave when the phone rang. We could tell by the phone number that it was someone from Switzerland calling: the radio station wanted to know if we were making good headway. We decided not to show how hard the day had been and gave our first interview. At midnight, we arrived in Baden-Baden – we were both tired and exhausted and the circumstances had left their mark on us. For the night, I shared a garage with my best friend Elsbeth, a Zündapp C50 Super.

After a short night, we desperately tried to repair the trailer’s distorted towbar with the help of my driver’s sister Jennifer as well as his brother-in-law Timo. Since we weren't able to repair the damage, we reluctantly chose to only take the most important things with us and leave the trailer behind. Around 3 pm, we continued our trip from Baden-Baden to Zug. My driver had refilled my tank and I heard him say “Heidi, today we drive as far as we can” and that’s what we did – until late at night. Around 3 am, we happily arrived at our second service point at the Düster Family’s Rührberger Hof – happily, because we had gone for a few quick laps on a kart track to let go of our frustration. Unfortunately, we had not been able to beat the track record due to our baggage.

Well-rested, just before taking off on Sunday morning, the mobile phone suddenly rang. No, it wasn’t the radio station, it was his sisters, Sabrina and Jennifer, who told him that they had spontaneously packed up the trailer and the other stuff we left at their place in order to accompany us to Zug as some kind of service mobile. Having started the day with only fuel as baggage and with great weather, and knowing that there were only 150 kilometres left until we would arrive in Zug and I could finally see Switzerland for the first time, I speeded up joyfully and we almost flew past the villages.
No need to say that Swiss mountains are steep but we still overtook one or two tractors and e-bikes effortlessly on the way up, not to mention down-hill. Possibly because we have the same airbrusher as Valentino Rossi. From there on, we only took breaks to quench our thirst and even though one or two ascents were a little steeper, it was still a lot of fun. For the last few kilometres, we slowed down a little because my driver already had tears of joy in his eyes due to our imminent arrival. It had been his big dream – no, our dream.

When we turned into the street of the distillery, we could already see Gabriel Galliker-Etter from afar, dancing for joy and waving at us with a bottle of Williams pear spirit. He was very excited because he had never seen me before. I understood right away why Patch! admires him so much. Of course, as a start, they drank a glass to our arrival.

Afterwards, I got a wellness treatment. I think I deserved that. And in the spa area (the washing station), I had the best company: a Rolls-Royce Phantom I of royal descent just got his tank refilled. Spotlessly clean and sparkling, I was allowed to spend the night in the distillery’s showroom and dreamt of all the fruit spirits and liquors around me.

The reaction of the Swiss was impressive. On Monday, June 22nd, 2020, I provoked a proper Heidi boom in the canton of Zug. All day long, Radio sunshine and Radio Central hourly reported about our activities in Zug. We visited the new city hall and the tourist office. On the way, we met several celebrities, business people, and artists – all in all, a lot of kind people who took pictures with us. I really liked that – feeling the photographers’ flashlights on my chrome. One thing was particularly charming: no one asked for my age.

Then, we gave an interview to the “Zuger Woche” (a daily newspaper). At 3 pm, I was allowed to officially inaugurate the Chriesimärt. Afterwards, we went to the old town for a photo shooting with Charly. Also, a visit at the Berglihof in Menzingen, the first location of the Etter distillery, was scheduled. Another highlight of the day was the invitation to Patch!’s favourite restaurant: the Blasenberg restaurant.

On Tuesday morning, we had a top-class start into the day yet again. We met very important politicians in front of the government building. I was surrounded by the majority of the cantonal parliament and they all said lots of flattering things about me.
Around midday, we had an extensive boat trip on Lake Zug. Our ship was called Rigi. Usually, no motorised vehicles are allowed on board. However, Philipp Hofmann, CEO of Zugersee Schifffahrt AG told us right in the beginning that they would make an exemption for me and I even got my own parking spot on board. They even provided security. Still, Patch! checked up on me every now and then. As he was starving, he was looking forward to Swiss delicacies and a little break but as always, it took a different turn. All I am going to say is: it was a great boat trip.

Afterwards, Patch! pushed me along Lake Zug to the distillery. It took us at least half an hour. A German saying is “Wer liebt, der schiebt”, which literally means “Those who love their cars, push them". It’s not like I wasn’t still filled up with ethanol but I wasn’t the only one: Patch! had had a real Swiss ice coffee for dessert (with quite a lot of kirsch). Additionally, one of his principles is “don’t drink and drive” because he says we are too mature for that. Just because we take fruit spirits and liquors with us, it doesn’t mean we drink and drive – we always stay sober.

Having arrived at the distillery, I was brought back to the showroom by a lift. Half the staff, led by Eveline and Gabriel, had remodelled the showroom in no time only to offer me a nice parking spot. The only thing missing were the autographs of Etter’s three sons – they are like a tattoo on my luggage rack box now. I secretly hope to get a chance in the race for the title “Zug’s person of the year”, even though I am a moped or, as you would say in Switzerland, a Töffli. 

For now, I can temporarily (until June 2021) relax in the distillery’s showroom and present myself in the best way possible. After the 2021 Chriesisturm, I will start my way back home. However, my anniversary tour continues because I will be showcased at the anniversaries of the Technik Museen Sinsheim Speyer (40 years/ 30 years), provided that I am not busy delivering fruit spirits and liquors during the museum’s events. And let’s see what Patch! comes up with next – maybe next time, we take a tractor tour together? I can already hear him say “Heidi – I’m going to pick you up with a tractor”. On Tuesday evening, Patch! lovingly said goodbye to me and went home by ICE.

I would like to say thank you to everyone along the way who helped me get here (companies, experts, colleagues, friends, family, masters of their fields). Even if I can’t name all of them, they know I would have never become this unique without their help. Because, believe me, a restoration of a Quickly is not a piece of cake. Something we heard quite often in the past two and a half years was: “We are not interested in working on a Quickly – you can do that yourself”. When a bereavement stopped the project shortly before my assembly, Manfred Fink was my knight in shining armour. I will never forget about that!

Pssst... I’m going to tell you a little secret: If you want to find out more about me, you will have to be a little patient. Petra and Patch! are using their “Heidi-free” time in order to write a little book about me.

See you soon at the museum,
Your Heidi

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