I know I'm a bit young (38) for the fifty plus threads. But I figured people here would be bit more intelligent & experienced than the more 'elitist ego driven' road racing forums. Figured the advice here would be much more efficient and practical for my particular situation. brief athletic history - I was a competitive distance runner as a kid, never took to the bike. mile pr 4:50, 2 mile pr 10:45. decent enough, probably could've held my own at a small division III. but 20 years away from competition is a long time. Took up cycling about 8 months ago. Started out with basic mountain bike. found myself putting in over 100 miles a week within 1st month. That muscle memory phenomenon was an amazingly crazy concept to me. all the hours upon hours as a kid training, the muscles started remembering, took over my brain and just started doing their own thing. it was like my brain was just along for the ride if that makes any sense. This was just supposed to be a hobby for nice days. I wasnt planning on investing any money into it. But I was pretty enamored with this whole 'muscles doing their own thing'. and the endorphin highs didnt hurt either. So about a month later I upgraded to a hybrid Giant. Much lighter, professionally fit at the shop, built a bit more for finesse & could handle the increase in the miles that the muscles kept demanding. This was in July. I started this journey in May. August, I did my first half century in 3 hours solo. I wasnt even really pushing myself although granted it was flat terrain. But Im still a novice here. Sep/Oct/Nov were rainy & cold so I backed off a bit maybe 50 miles a week average. but by dec/jan, the muscles caught fire again and I now find myself hitting 20 miles (15mph pace) every other day in temps of 10-20 degrees. so the hobby is apparently is not showing any signs of fading out. My next goal is do a century. Im currently in New England and their all looking at me crazy that nobody even thinks of doing anything like that until mid-summer. But Im still trying to figure out if its worth trying to get involved with the elitist road racing folks and pursuing the different race categories. I've been monitoring my pace/mileage through this whole thing. In warm weather, I can hit a 17/18 mph pace on the 20 mile trail I ride that has some decent rolling hills. And thats riding solo on a hybrid that is not completly built for speed. and theres about 10 different stops where you lose a lot of momentum. So I dont think its reaching to think I could hit a 20-22mph average with a group who knew what they were doing using the right equipment. I have not had any formal training whatsoever. Put in about 1500 miles these past 8 months. So the effort is there. its just wondering if the base I created myself just off instinct would show enough promise to dish out 2k-5k on a real road bike to pursue this even further to get maybe a cat 2 or cat 3 level. Any intelligent thoughts would be greatly appreciated. thanks!