I don't really race. I mean that not only in the entering races standpoint (with the exception of LOTOJA--but then, one could argue that LOTOJA really isn't a race for most people), but also in the I don't care if I beat you up that hill standpoint.
Actually, that probably isn't true. Now that I think about it, I really want to beat everyone everywhere--I just normally can't.
When riding up a hill, I really want to show my stuff. Hills are what I like and I feel like I can really suffer through them better than most. (Actually, I probably can't, but I don't really know--and that's what keeps me happy.)
On the flats, I also want to win. Of course, to accomplish this, I need to just pull longer than normal when in a group, or volunteer that we should go further. When riding with people, I never want to be the one who picks up the pace just to show how fast he/she is. That's what the hills are for (see above). Another acceptable option is to ride to the starting point, and point out the ride you plan on doing afterwards. I've seen this in action many times.
Descending. Well, I'm never in front in this case (except when they give me a head-start--and then it isn't for long). Off-road or road--it doesn't seem to make a difference. My best bet here is to be off-road on an unfamiliar trail. I love to pull out the "I didn't know what to expect or where I could open it up" card. It happens to be my best excuse. (Though, not as accurate as saying, "I'm really bad at descending.")
This is why I need to apologize to those who I rode with over lunch. One of your number was introduced to me as "a strong rider." That same rider proceeded to tell me how he plans on doing an ironman next year. I felt pretty strong, and I had to find out. I'm sorry for keeping the pace up. I'm sorry for pushing it harder than I ever have up those hills. I just had to do it.
I'm not a racer. I just play one in my mind.