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Obvious noob q: 
My first CX season last year I rodea  series of 6 races, 3 of them 45+ , 3 of them Cat 4, mostly out of ignorance as to what category I should be riding. (ACA here in CO does not have a 45+ Cat 4 for CX...not sure if that's the same everywhere). 

I wound up with about the same finish position for all races, starting at the bottom and eventually finishing mid-pack.

The more I've learned, the more I think I should I ride Cat 4 exclusively this season. Yes, I have visions of grandeur.


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ride the harder category, with faster lap times. once you upgrade to cat3 (or race down an age category in 35+), it gets a lot harder. another factor for me would be start times. one of the crappy things about racing cat4 in some areas is that you're typically the first category to go off. that may or may not work for your schedule. it does leave the day more open. but it often translates to not having much (if any) time to preview the course (because it's not ready or not open, or because it's dark) and typically, at least here in new england, much larger fields, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but is a thing. at any rate, go with the faster field. if the masters are more experienced you will have better wheels to follow, which can benefit your technique.
RIde the 45+, learn, suffer and get stronger. The top of the 45+ in CO are about 15% faster than the 4's. In middle of the season, if you want to try to rack up some wins, drop to the 4's. Many of the sandbaggers will have up graded by then.


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