I remember thinking I could take a short cut to riding with the best by training in the big ring from day one.
Twenty minutes into my first ride on my brand new bike an experienced racer stopped and asked why I was sitting on the side of the road on the verge of tears.
After taking a look at the gear I was riding in, he told me to switch to a 42/17 and invited me to follow him. Thirty minutes later, before taking his leave, he suggested I build a base of at least 1000 km before even thinking of doing short intervals in a bigger gear. "High cadence in an easy gear," he said.
Best training advice I ever received.
Two years later I accomplished my goal of racing cat 1/2. But if not for him, I swear I would have sold my bike the next day.
Also, I'm far from expert on these matters, but I didn't wait to have 4000 km's before entering in novice/cat 4 races. Sure, I got shelled early on; but it didn't take long before I could hang in and not cause stupid wrecks.