@BattIeBeard is absolutely right that if your goal is to be (or remain) competitive in the game, the only way to do this is through Atlas. A L30 dark flak takes approx 14 days to level (without research). This goes up to 20 days at L40, 44 days at L50 and 57 days at L60. If you think you have it rough now, it’s only going to get worse, as you can only forge so many timers between build events (even if you don’t use any, ever, for any other purpose). Even marginal effort in Atlas will provide an exponential increase in timers.
And it’s not only about clocks. The disparity between Atlas gear versus the gear that can be obtained with the seasonal riders is very significant. A defensive rider with upgraded Atlas gear can increase the AP and HP of towers it buffs by 100%. An offensive rider with upgraded Atlas gear can increase the AP and HP of the dragon it buffs by 100%. Against a similar level opponent, your base with non-Atlas gear will be no match for a drag with Atlas gear, and your drag with non-Atlas gear will be no match for a base with Atlas gear.
@Jonesy has written much on the forums on the unfairness of the 2-tiered system in the game, advocating that Atlas be made available to everyone so as to level the playing field. Until (if) that happens, the chasm between the have and have-nots will continue to grow. As this utopia is likely a long, long way off, you have a decision to make - Do you wish to be (or remain) competitive, in which case you should be moving to a team with Atlas, or are you more content to remain in a team without Atlas, where I assume you are enjoying the social aspects of the game? Keep in mind that these are not mutually exclusive. The best of both worlds is out there. Might be time for you (or a group of you) to make a move.