What is MotoSoul?
A special place.
A unique atmosphere for people who enjoy the art of riding motorcycles.
A gathering place where riders can be surrounded by the love and comfort of their people.
A place to learn, grow, and experience all that life has to offer.
Where did the idea come from?
I think the real history of MotoSoul is my Dad’s garage. I recall describing it to my riding friends Thomas and Luggi in 2010. They instantly wanted to go there and see it, be part of it, experience it. When I think back to being in my Dad’s garage, I recall conversations about motorcycles, of course. But I also recall talking about life, about love, about heartache, about joy, about the “old days” and about the memories of riding. Which bike, what place, who was there, it all became so real and the stories grew and the connections between the people became real and tangible.
My Father was the heart and soul of the vintage riding community in Michigan and people still feel the loss. His spirit will always be part of MotoSoul though. Some of the treasures of his garage will be part of MotoSoul. His energy and enthusiasm will embrace us, and I will be sure that those discussions, real conversations, and shared memories continue at MotoSoul.
My good friend and riding partner Thomas and I have been dreaming of MotoSoul for 5 years. With every hotel/motel we stayed at, every restaurant we ate at, every road we travelled, every piece of new gear we tested, we thought about how we can bring this all together so that others can share the joys we experience when travelling by motorbike. It started as a concept, and with time it grew more and more. Bigger ideas, more thorough research, and finally one day I decided it’s time. There is no guarantee that I get to do this when I am “retired.” I have the energy and the enthusiasm to do it now, there is no time like the present.
I have wanted to live in Europe since I was in my early twenties. Whenever I set long term goals it always included a historic old house in a small town, motorbikes, and a comfortable community of friends and conversation. Of course like every girl, I dreamed of a castle, but not a Neuaschwanstein, more of a Manor House really, that was warm and cozy inside, more like a large family home. I wanted enough land so I could walk on my own property, and ideally some water too, perhaps a small lake.
As a Mother of two children, including them in my goals was very important to me. When I told them about MotoSoul, they grabbed their paper and markers and started drawing. Alden drew a 3 story house, a small lake behind, a bridge and a tower. Keaton was focused on the restaurant. He thought there should be a way to give people really good food and let them pay what they could afford. We talked about where it should be and when I told them Germany, they were surprised.
Executing on this idea has been an interesting journey. Being an American that presently speaks no German, you can imagine the disbelief that many people express when I tell them about MotoSoul. Wanting to bring my children along on this adventure has resulted in a long, painful, not to mention expensive court process with their Father. Managing a house with two school age children, an existing business consulting practice, a court case, researching properties in Germany, negotiating on the property with the Government entities that own it, and still finding time for a motorcycle ride myself once in a while has been what the last year of my life has entailed. All that said, I know I am doing the right thing.
Every single break that could happen for MotoSoul to become a reality has come my way. After an exhaustive search via the internet and riding around on two wheels all over the Czech Republic and Southern Germany, Thomas told me to take a flyer and check out the old East Germany. Until that time, I had been to Berlin twice and ridden from Berlin to Prague once on a nice ride. I searched the internet for properties and saw one that looked very interesting. I tried to reach the real estate agent without luck, so decided to hop on the bike and go see if I could find it. All I had to start with was a town name and a couple of pictures.
Schloss Mutzschen was promising enough from the pictures to entice me to visit Leipzig, the closest big city, since part of my vision was to be near enough to a big city and airport so that Americans would come. My first stop was to see the International School in Leipzig, and to see the area around the school. It was summer, so school was out, but from the outside I could see it was a special place, and the neighborhood was my kind of area. OK, so now I can rest assured there are options for the kids, let’s go see this Schloss.
I like to prolong the reward as much as possible, so decided to get off the autobahn one stop early and take the back roads. I came across the wonderful town of Grimma, and stopped for a coffee. World class espresso macchiato, friendly people in the restaurant – hmmmm, this is getting more interesting by the moment. While I was sipping my espresso, I notice a shoe store across the street. In my haste I realized that I didn’t bring a pair of shoes suitable for exploring the grounds. A quick stop at the shoe store, where I was met by the second friendly local, grab my shoes, and it’s Mutzschen time!
The back road to Mutzschen provided me with a beautiful view of the historic bridge and river front of Grimma. Just a short way up the road, I see a traditional German beergarden – with a motorcycle on top of it’s sign post! OK, now I am really getting goosebumps! I come to the sign that says MUTZSCHEN and realize it is directly off the autobahn – easy access, gotta love that!
Remember, I still have no idea where the Schloss actually is, but figure it can’t be that hard to find, right? I follow the signs to the town center – which is really just a few buildings set around an oval shaped market, and see a sign that says Schloss – ok, I found it! But the sign pointed out of town. I follow the road and circle around the town several times and can’t see it, so I decide to go back into town and ask. The friendly woman at the bakery points to the sign I saw originally and says to go down that street – the opposite of the direction the sign points…
I ride up slowly and what do I see? The exact building that my son Alden drew! The bridge, the tower, the 3 story castle, and an added bonus – a clock tower setting on top a lovely little building in the foreground. I found it!!
The gate was locked of course, and the realtor had still not returned my call, so I was left to my own devices… Donning the new shoes, I take a little walk. Around the town I go. I found a path that appeared to lead to the grounds, and before you know it, I am standing beside the lake looking up the hill at the Schloss. I see no one during this entire time, so I figure they won’t mind if I take a little hike up the hillside and see if I can get to the castle! I amuse myself by saying “Fabio, Fabio, let down your hair” (because of course the person trapped in the castle in my fairy tale must be a man!!) After a few scratches, a couple of slips on the mud, and dirty fingernails, I arrive at the top of the hill and WOW! This is it! I instantly can picture the front court yard filled with motorbikes, the clock tower building as a café serving the best coffee and pastries you can find in the region, and the tower as some sort of very special suite…
I take some pictures, one that shows I am on the inside of the gate of course, and slide back down the hill. Back to town to that bakery where I attempt to talk to a couple people about the Schloss, but my lack of German and their learning Russian instead of English makes it futile. I decide to spend the night in Leipzig to get a feel for the city and the entire evening I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I have found the right place.
The next morning I return and do a more thorough look around the grounds and buildings and the more time I spend there, the more I can see the vision coming to life. I return to Bamberg and meet with Thomas and his wife Sabine, who happens to be an architect, and show them what I found. Thomas does his best to try to convince me against a castle and encourage me to build something brand new, but Sabine sees what I see, the romance, the allure, and the ability to make it a home. It’s time to return to the states again, but I leave knowing that this is possible.
I finally reach the realtor and he informs me that the City owns the property so I must negotiate with them directly. I reach out to the Burgermeister and arrange a meeting for the following month. In the meantime, I begin my business plan and financial planning while solidifying the overall concept.