Well, I'm finally underway. I'm sitting eating a knusperfisch sandwich in the Baltic seaside resort of Travemünde and in a few minutes I'll ride eastwards to the point where the iron fences marking the old border between West and East Germany ran down to the beach and turned into a line of buoys stretching into the sea.
I arrived in Lübeck just after midnight at the end of an epic train journey, tired but excited again about the trip. Having decided to go straight to my departure point, my problem was that the only trains from Belgium to Germany that take bicycles without complications are the overnight ones. But now I wanted to leave earlier in the day. So I got a Belgian train as far as the furthest station towards Germany, cycled over the border into Aachen, and got a German train from there. Or rather, four trains. Via stops at Dortmund, Hamburg and Büchen.
The 18 kilometre dash over the border reminded me how much harder it is to bike uphill with full panniers, how great it is to freewheel downhill through sunny countryside, and how I always overestimate the distances I can do before starting to get tired. But the turning leaves also confirmed that, photographically, I've chosen a great time of year to go.