I did my first elite WORS race back in 1999, The crusty bluff hunkerdown. I still remember the torrential rain, the mud, and pushing the car out of the field afterwards.
It sure is interesting going back and looking at results from then and seeing names that have long disappeared, and other names that are a surprise. Back then I was so inconsistent, one week I'd be 14th, the next week 2nd, the following week 18th, and I never knew what I was doing wrong or right week to week to get those results. I remember being super pumped after getting that 2nd place behind some New Zealand guys later that year, and then coming home totally bummed the next week after getting smoked in like 18th place again.
Each race back then I'd do everything to make the front group and then I'd usually blow up and finish in the second or third group if I didn't bonk, but my main goal was always to ride in that first group. Eventually I was able to hang longer and longer and then I remember eventually winning my first WORS race at the Wor at Wilmot WORS race in 2000. All of a sudden riding at the front was easier, the races seemed easier, and I was consistently up near the front of races and winning more often. It just clicked at the Wor at Wilmot. The next two seasons I won the WORS series twice and have won 18 WORS races since.
My point is that at every level there is a time when something just clicks and it becomes "easier" to ride at that level. Jeremiah Bishop was telling us last year how he was struggling for top tens at NORBAs for years and then he did the trans rockies one year and all of a sudden it just clicked and he felt comfortable riding at the front of big races. I think the last few years I've been racing NORBAs trying to get top 50s, then 30s, now 20s and never forcing myself to ride to the front like I did years ago at WORS races. I think without at least riding at the front a little each race, you never will, but looking back at my early success, it came after many failed attempts to ride at the front - but eventually it catches up with you - that's when it clicks. This is my goal this year at the NORBA series, to ride at the front for a long as possible, possibly forfeiting a top 15 for an all or nothing attitude like back in the day.