I tried searching the forums but don't know quite how to phrase my question. I'm curious about how good the rider has to be for fancier equipment to make a difference, if there are equivalences between training and equipment. For example, a professional time trialist would benefit much more from a skin suit than additional training. So, how good do I have to be before clipless pedals actually make a difference? How long a ride do I need to really appreciate chamois?
Right now I have a 25 year old road bicycle, high tensile steel frame, platform pedals, and I usually ride in regular pants and with my lock and water in a backpack. I have no trouble keeping up with the local bicycle club's 17mph, 75min social rides, but I got dropped pretty fast from one of their faster rides (maybe 20mph into a headwind).