I rode my first 400k yesterday, my longest ride ever. It was quite flat, only 5000' of climbing, so it was a good introduction to that distance. I rode it on my old Trek 5200 with the standard Ultegra triple of 52-42-30 and 12-25. That was good gearing for that ride, as I used every gear except the bottom two. I rode Vredestein Tricomps pumped to 140. My group was the third to come in, about an hour behind Jan's group. We worked hard and calibrated our effort well, as we were pretty shot by the finish, though we rode the last 30 miles in 1:33. Overall time was 15:03 with an in the saddle average of 18.8. Not too shabby for a geezer.
Since it was a before dawn start, I used two Cateye HL-EL530 lamps and of course two taillights, a Cateye TL-LD270 (very cool with red LEDs and a clear lens) on a seatstay and a Performance Bike Shop Viewpoint Flashpoint lamp on my Detours High Tail bag. Yellow lenses in Rudy Project glasses with Optx stick-on reading inserts were great. I wore them all day as I never had time to change them for dark lenses. Didn't matter. I carried my cue sheet in a Cyco Active BarMap holder velcroed to my aerobars. The 'bars came in very handy both for long pulls on the front, chasing to get back onto a tandem group after a needed arrete pipi, and for some impromptu fartlek during a rolly stretch. They relieved my tired shoulders quite a bit.
I went through 4 pints of my maltodextrin/soy protein powder, one Clif bar, one turkey and cheese sandwich (Yumm!) and one pint of chocolate milk. One of my buddies in the group was telling me that Real Randonneurs drank a quart of chocolate milk and ate a sandwich for lunch. So I tried the pint at the last control, just in case it didn't work out. Let me tell you, if you are the least bit lactose intolerant, don't drink chocolate milk during a long ride! I wasn't able to drink much of my last bottle of malto mix because my stomach was in such turmoil. Working out the math, if I had finished that last bottle, I would have been right on my target of 250 cal./hr. Definitely didn't bonk. Next time I'll eat another sandwich somewhere. Eating that one sandwich made me realize I was hungry so I drank a bunch of malto and ate the Clif bar, too. Good tasting food is an appetite stimulant, and that's a good thing.
Technique: I got better at doing controls. Before I got to each control, I made a mental list of everything I wanted to do there and prioritized it. I stayed focused on my tasks, but kept an eye out for the others. When they were ready to leave, I left with them, whether I had gotten everything done or not. That was good. The comfort range for this type of thing is quite broad. As long as you get your card signed and tend to your absolute physical needs, you'll be fine.