i guess that depends how you treat your riding: as a pleasure/leisure activity ( no matter the intensity) or as a training, a job to do?
i find it really helpful to ditch all those expectations and regimes and simply focus on having good time on my bike. back in the days when i presumed riding as a some kind of obligation, taking the break from riding and getting to ride again caused many problems, both of physical and psychological nature. it took time for me to find pleasure in it
what i did was throw all the computers away, stop pushing myself to ride even if didn't feel like, just take it easy. the result - i cover twice as much distance per year with much higher (estimated) avs, i'm not 'tired', i found out i can climb (i mean: i gotten to really enjoy it) and only thing i listen to is my body. its kind of finding your cycling ying and yang. when you do this, you treat cycling more naturally, therfore any need for dividing the year or months into riding and non-riding time seems unnecessary.
as for racing. i dont race at all, but that doesnt mean i dont hang with guys who do ( and who are really good at it ) so i ithink i have a pretty good idea what you need in order to race. i assume i could easily start to participate in cycling events with this attitude of mine, and i probably wouldnt be the last one to cross the line. i find it really funny how some guys identify 'serious' riding with buying all those powermeters and other stuff, comparing watts, buying on-line coaching sessions etc. i dont think of myself as a mean person but dropping them on any occasion makes me feel really good