My attitude is that it's all hype unless you race. The god's honest truth is 99% of us suck and that's OK.
Tomorrow, I'll ride another century I go to every year. It's not totally flat, but with less than 5k feet of climbing, the wind is a much bigger deal than the scenic hills. My preparation: ride 44 miles too hard today, drink too much wine, sleep 4 hrs tops, try to remember to bring water bottles, shoes, gloves, bike, and a helmet tomorrow. And have a good time like always.
To pretend I'm not slow, I'll just take my steel commuter with fenders and rack. The reality is that it has little impact on my speed, even on the climbs. But hey, I get an excuse to hang back, enjoy the scenery, and yak with the women while the fast dudes get a view of nothing but each others' asses and finish maybe 20 minutes faster than me on a ride that takes a more than a half day to complete.
Freds love distances and climbs. The aging process may be unkind to sprinting speed. But experience really helps on rides with considerable distance and climbing such as the Everest Challenge. It's the way God intended it to be -- and I will never take offense at being associated with such fine folk.