This is my first year in the expert mountain bike category. At the start of the race everyone goes out so incredibly fast. I usually lose site of the lead pack within minutes, it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes before I get settled into my pace. But by that time there is no way I am going to catch up. I usually get stronger as the race goes on. What can I do to stay closer to the pack to be competitive at the finish? Any training tips would be great. Thanks
You really need to practice your starts. That means (after a warm-up similar to what you do befor a race) going full bore for the initial 10-15 minutes of a training ride a few times/week. This will get your mind, and body more acclimated to such quick starts. After the first 10-15 minutes of a race, the pack slows down, and starts doing more tempo work.
i just did my first road race this weekend, and the same thing happened to me. i got into my tempo only after i had been dropped at beginning. i never could catch up again. i was too worried about not hitting anyone or causing a crash that i didn't keep my speed up enough.