Not everyone wants or needs a plan. Some like to keep it as simple as ride, eat, sleep, repeat and that keeps them on track. However, I find it can help to quickly answer questions like: Have I got time to stop and chat for five minutes and take some photos? Can I afford an extra hour's sleep at the next control? If I look for a nice bakery off-route, will I have time for a nap later? Without some idea of where you are against the plan, tiredness can make these simple questions taxing! This is especially true on PBP when the riders around you are often riding on different schedules with different start times.
At the very least I think every rider should know how far it is to the next control and what time they need to leave that control to make it to the next one in time. Last time I failed even that basic check so I didn't realise how far behind I was getting.
I found the spreadsheet helpful when preparing for Mille Cymru in 2018. To make following it simple I scribbled my expected average speed and ETAs on the route sheet. Inevitably the reality doesn't match the plan very well, but having made a plan, it easy to see when the time is slipping. When I started to drift from the plan, I knew what I had to do to regain time - in my case that meant skipping the shower and having a shorter sleep. For PBP I won't have a route sheet, but will probably still keep these targets to hand, maybe taped onto the bike somewhere.
For anyone who'd like to do the same, I'm sharing the link here
To use the spreadsheet for other events you'll need to make another copy and edit the control names and distances in columns A and B.
Apart from that the instructions above should still work.
* I've worked out the minimum average speed that makes the finish time work for the 90hr starts and put it in B19 - if you're in the 84hr or 80hr starts, you'll need to increase that number accordingly and make sure the finish time in C17 is correct.
At the very least I think every rider should know how far it is to the next control and what time they need to leave that control to make it to the next one in time.
Inevitably the reality doesn't match the plan very well, but having made a plan, it easy to see when the time is slipping.