How many of us will spend 5-6 hours in the saddle during a sportif with a group of friends. Maybe it's because I raced a lot in my youth, but I generally try and keep the group together--"No man gets left behind". Well, that's unless they are really slowing down the group!
So, lets get down to the basics of making our bikes comfortable. Even the most rigid speed machine can be tamed. Starting with the saddle, some of us like the flat saddle some like the more rounded ones. I think Prologo are very good at offering something for everyone. Some retailers offer a service where they work this out or you can try different types of saddles. if you are pushing back looking for width, your saddles is too narrow.
Good cycling shorts, you need to pay a bit extra for the pads. I really like the offerings from Elastic Interface and Dolomiti pads. You can cut corners when it comes to jerseys, but shorts are a different matter.
Tyres--700x25c or even 700x27c if you can fit them. The best thing is they don't slow you down. Professional riders are now riding 25c. Keep the pressure at 6 -7 bars and you will notice a huge difference.
Handlebars--you can get some gel inserts fitted under the bar tape, I have never tried this, but some riders do like them.
Shoes--select a shoe brand that suits your foot, some brands like Fizik and Giro are a wider fit as are Specialized although the toe box seems to be smaller on some of the newer s-works models. Sidi is a good choice if you want a narrower fit.
Finally, bike fit. This is really worth investing in. You will get more from a €2000 bike that has been set up properly for you than a €10,000 bike that is not. Balance is important, you don't want all the pressure on your lower back or on you wrists and shoulders. You can also use these dimensions if ever you are hiring a bike.
So, stay comfortable, stay safe and stay with your mates...