Just a few things noteworthy in retrospect…
Bike: Well, my wife’s bike worked well enough. Its parts are of reasonable quality and are serviced regularly. Nevertheless, after the ride it is showing severe signs of wear and tear. At some point in the rain the Ultegra derailleurs started behaving slightly erratically and by the end of the ride I couldn’t use all gears any longer. The rear wheel bearings gave up, too. As did the bar tape. The girlie sized components did not turn out to be showstoppers, the only really annoying bit were the narrow handlebars, I could not properly ride in the drops and the unusual positioning of my hands caused some numbness in the left hand. But generally the bicycle was a very good vehicle for the ride. The one thing I became aware of is how perfectly my carbon Canyon fits me.
Kit: As I set out I thought I carried too much stuff around but in the end I used almost all of it. In fact, the only thing I could think about doing differently the next time would be to carry less food. I brought back about half of my energy bars, after about half the ride I could not stomach them any longer. That said, I have to sing the praise of Sponser Liquid Energy gels. I could have used two or three more of them. They taste horribly and I only use them with the water bottle ready in the other hand, for fear the brown goo might eat away my palate. But twenty to thirty minutes later the miracle happens and incredible energy will flow through your legs again. This effect is reproducible even after more than 1000 kilometres and can be confirmed by independent observers, yet I have never experienced it with gels of other manufacturers. I might try the Overstim’s stuff sold at all the controls before I try PBP again in 2015. I can also highly recommend Assos arse cream. Practically no ill effects after 1236km. The Ixon IQ head light was fully adequate for the conditions of the ride and I used only about one and a half sets of Eneloop batteries.
General: Starting in the 84h group is fine as far as reducing the number of nights on the road is concerned. However, after reading a number of other ride reports I seemed to have missed a lot of the atmosphere of PBP by riding out of phase with the majority of riders. It will definitely be the 80h start again the next time. Physically, my body coped very well with the exertion. I could have done with more sleep in the week before the ride, but generally speaking good physical fitness will help to overcome everything thrown in your path. It was good to have a plan for the ride but, as my example shows, you have to be prepared to bin it after a few kilometres and start improvising. As I read in a sig on a German forum: The more meticulously you plan, the harder chance will hit you.
Finally, reading Tony Lonero’s ride report was definitely a humbling experience. After reading about the obstacles he overcame, it feels a bit weird actually that he should congratulate me on finishing my ride back in the hotel.