When I started racing, I had a solid year plus of getting dropped and lapped in the Cat4 races. For SOME reason, I stuck with it, got faster, and finally started to be able to stay in a crit or flat road race, and even RACE a bit here and there. It was a long, tough and very demoralizing road to travel. With a shift to "older" participants, and the reasonably high cost of racing a bike, bike racing is turning more into a "rich old guy" hobby, rather than the feeder system for the Olympics and Pro ranks that it might have once been, or maybe IS in Europe. With it competing with many activities, I can see less and less people being interested in the struggle to "fit in" and be able to even finish a road race in the pack. Lots of other things out there to spend your leisure time & money on that do not slap you ego around quite so hard.
There is a distinct and relatively high "Entry Fee" of skill. Speed and fitness needed to race on the road. Fall short of that, get dropped, and you are now in the "You Suck" category in a hurry. Go home. Leave NOW! it screams. Not a lot of fun, it hurts your ego, and no one wants to be there. Maybe that's why Cyclocross is growing SO much faster than road racing. While you may not be at the true pointy end of a race, you never fell "dropped" and left for dead. No one expects to be pulled (at least in the local races...) and have that lingering "you don't belong" feeling confirmed in Cross.
So, do the new Road Racers now have too high of expectations? Is there a need for an even slower "starter" group (Anyone remember Cat 5??)? Do they need to HTFU and race more, no matter how hard it is? Is pulling HALF a crit field a good thing to do? Is road racing on yet another cycle of decline? Is the ease of posting on the internet just make it too easy to whine? I don't know.
I DO know that even after all the years I did put in to racing on the road (Badly... for sure...), I have ZERO interest in getting back in there to race on a road bike. Riding the road for "training" is hard enough to motivate for. Frankly, it is just plain boring, at least for me. Even racing, while "tactical", no longer has any excitement for me. Guess I need the added challenge of having to drive your bike, corner well, and ALSO race, rather than just see who can mindlessly churn out the most watts for an extended period of time. Course, that just may be because I happen to SUCK at churning out a lot of watts for an extended period of time. Oh, and I HATE hitting pavement at speed, especially if it's not my fault. WAY too much chance of that in road racing. At least when I crash in Cross or on the MTB, it's usually my fault.
Hats off to the roadies out there. Go get 'em. For me? Cross season is "just around the bend".