Abs, our guide, giving a pep talk at the start of the tour:
"You CAN all ride a bike, can't you?"
But I suppose you can't really do a tour of Munich's history without touching on a much darker chapter of German history, and Abs is already preparing us for this. "Sorry to dampen the cheery mood, guys", he says, explaining we're standing at the scene of the notorious Beer Hall Putsch. This is where Hitler unsuccessfully attempted to storm the Bavarian Defense Ministry in 1923. Just before I'd been humming that Tina Turner tune to myself, and everything had looked so peaceful in the sunshine. But suddenly a chill runs down my spine. We move on.
You don't HAVE to leave your hat on. Or very much else either, actually. We're about to enter the no-clothes zone of Munich's best-loved garden.
Originally from the USA, Abs has been in Munich for just a year but can already quote chapter and verse on the city's history. I'm impressed too by his "insider" knowledge of the English Garden, the biggest park in Munich - larger than even Central Park NY. As we ride into the 37 sq-km park he tells us to look out for one or two "local celebrities". I'm wondering which TV stars he's referring to, but it soon turns out he has something else in mind. There are six nudist "zones" in Munich, and we're already smack bang in the middle of the biggest. "You can't miss the Human Tripod", he says, explaining that this nudist enjoys waving to cyclists. But not necessarily with his hands. Hey....
Cyclists' heaven comes with five storeys in Munich. And if you're lucky, you'll even get serenaded by the in-house brass band.
Refueled, we continue the tour, stopping off next at Surfer's Bridge, at the top entrance to the garden. Strangely, I hadn't been here for over ten years, even though it's not even 10 minutes walk from the centre of Munich. Crowds of spectators stand admiring athletic looking Münchners as they queue to ride the 4-foot wave. It looks dead easy, but I guess none of the seasoned surfers dare try out their stunts there before practising elsewhere - without an audience. See amazing video.
The four hours are over far too quickly, and after cycling along the Isar ̶ passing some of the city's other five nudist zones on route ̶ we turn back into the main thoroughfare, winding back at where we started. All told, the 31 € fee (21 € students) is excellent value. You really do see far more on this tour than you could ever hope to see by foot in a whole day, or say on just a one-hour open-top bus tour. And although the guides tell some jokes you perhaps might not wish to repeat to your parents this tour definitely offers something for all ages. The just-retired couple from Sydney certainly seemed to enjoy the joking around. And, given the leisurely pace we rode at, no one is expected to perform like Lance Armstrong either.
After handing back my bike I return to the nudist "zone", joining the crowds for a quick dip near the Eisbach or "ice brook". The fast-flowing water - usually bitter cold just like the name suggests - feels gloriously refreshing.
Strip off, cool off ̶ just 10 minutes from the centre of Munich.