Those were wonderful times in the world of endurance sport. Top motocross racers like O'Mara and Bailey were bringing fitness into their sport and merging their training efforts with top triathletes and cyclists. Jim Felt (founder of Felt bicycles) was O'Mara's Honda factory mechanic and on some occasions, I was allowed to participate in some of their anaerobic rituals.
It can be stated that Bailey and O'Mara were, without debate, two of the best motocross racers of their era. Much of that success came through fitness. They could simply outlive the efforts of many competitors, always strong and on top of their game.
I was never a world class athlete, never will be. Never even close. But I did get up close and personal with world class athletes. It's the mindset of being the best you can be, in preparation and mindset. Pushing the envelope to get that fraction of a percentage improvement. Experimenting with diet and exercise to get the best combination.
There were no limits on how far one can climb. I can remember evenings when everyone was showered and ready to head out for dinner, but just prior to leaving, it was discovered O'Mara was missing; he'd slip out the back door and onto the trails, grabbing a quick 6-miler (sometimes his second or third run of the day) to cap his mileage and "win" the day's training.
It's 25 years later and I still rely on that world class attitude to build my own program and train towards being the best I can be. I have been told I'm thin enough, I'm fit enough and that there's no need to strive for more. But when the front pack breaks away on the Bistro Roca ride, I want to join the climb. It would be easy to drop back and fall off, but that's not how the world class mindset works. It's a tool to take you higher and farther than you may have thought possible.
I'd challenge every master competitor reader to grab onto a world class plan. Your "norm" doesn't have to be average. Get lighter, stronger, faster. That's world class, it's deep inside you. The years may be rushing by, but it doesn't mean we can't reach for the stars.