I want to offer a response to Charlie Lamb's article, Five Reasons to Take the 5 AM / 84 Hour PBP Start, at PBP.
I started in the 90-hour group in '95, and suffered all the drawbacks that Charlie notes. I would also add another; the danger of crashing. Riding unfamiliar roads in the dark, surrounded by hundreds of others, means that it is very easy to make contact with another rider, probably leading to a fall. This happened to one person, and I witnessed several others.
Despite all the drawbacks, the 10pm start is a grand spectacle. If one is going to ride PBP, the 5am start makes sense. If one wants the entire
PBP experience, the 10 PM start is not to be missed. The sight of the road filled with bicycle lights as far as you can see in either direction, simply must be experienced to be believed.
Having done the 10 PM start, I am debating whether to do it again or go for the easier 5 AM start this year. But I would recommend to anyone who has not been to PBP before, seriously consider the 10 PM start, sensible or not.