Surfing in the city

Just one more discovery…

Munich is hundreds of miles from the sea – and yet it manages to have a thriving surf scene. No, really.

At a couple of points along the river, a certain configuration of bridges, banks, currents and coincidence has created permanent natural waves – and on a sunny day, you’ll find men in wetsuits (and one or two women) queuing up along the banks with their surfboards.

When their turn comes, they’ll toss the board into the waves, jump onto it, and attempt to stay up, sometimes for several minutes; sometimes only for a couple of seconds before they lose their balance and are immediately swept downstream, whereupon they’ll swim to the side, and hurry back along the bank to rejoin the queue.

Apparently river surfing has its own special set of skills, and even some world champions, used to the massive rollers of the Atlantic or the Pacific, have had difficulty staying up on the humble Isar.

I could have watched for hours. In fact, I think I probably did.

And I started to notice that some of the techiniques a surfer uses are – surely – similar to those used by a cyclist. The balance, for a start – and using every muscle in the body manipulate the centrifugal force that pushes you firmly onto the road, or the wave. The little twitches of the waist, and the careful movements of the feet – I know all that.

If I’d stayed any longer, I’d have insisted on having a go. And who knows – maybe in a couple of years I’ll find myself with a few weeks to spare in Australia or California…

Leave a Comment


  1. Don
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Cool! Reminds me of riding on rollers, only looks much harder!

  2. Jon Day
    Posted September 30, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Emily,

    This is great: very much enjoying your adventures. Still haven’t picked up those books…

    Hope the bike’s bedding in well,


  3. Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    You are meant to have a few spare weeks in a few years in California so I can join you! Aram can take you surfing.

  4. Jamie
    Posted October 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I was with some folks once in a small place in Austria doing something like this. They were surfing on a fast moving river by tying themselves to a bridge and just surfing from side to side. They claimed to have invented this. I had quite a few gos but I basically fell in straight away every time.

  5. Melanie Blake
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    There’s a similar phenomenon on the St. Lawrence:

    I look forward to following your adventures and hope to see you in San Francisco!