Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock made one of the greatest pairings in TV and movie history, polar opposites who constantly butted heads but also perfectly complemented each other. These two personalities are also embodied in bike racers and can be fairly easily identified. Can you tell which character you are or which one you lean towards?
“Live Long and Prosper.” This quote has become part of our modern day lexicon. Who can forget the spread fingers and parting salutations from one of the most recognizable characters in TV and movie history – Mr. Spock. Spock, being a Vulcan, was cerebral and calculating, always deferring to logic in situations that required a decision or action. “That is logical.” He was the antithesis of Captain Kirk, who in his emotions and instincts was a natural leader and risk taker, gambling the fate of the federation on a hunch.
If you have had the opportunity to watch the Star Trek movie released in 2009, you saw how these two diverse characters developed from childhood. How different they were and how together, they perfectly complemented each other, after they learned to get along of course. Neither one is necessarily better than the other and both certainly have their place.
The same is true in cycling and training. We all know Kirks and Spocks. At Athleticamps, with all the different levels and ages of athletes that come through our doors, we are able to help athletes improve by understanding them as people and recommending approaches that can help improve their training and racing.
Mr. Spock Analysis rules and decisions are made based on risk versus reward. Mr. Spocks know their power numbers and stay within themselves in any situation. Attacks are calculated: so many watts for so many minutes. A Spock racer has studied the course and knows the best places to attack, where the course will be hard, which direction the wind is blowing, etc. They also are familiar with the competition and what they do well. Each move or counter move is screened through a filter of what makes the most sense. A win or placing is always the result of hard work and preparation.
Mr. Spock is obvious to spot during training and group rides. They are the ones that are serious, chatting only during warm up and cool down. During the ride they are highly focused and efficient, talking only when necessary and only about the training. Route selections and terrain are carefully selected to achieve the desired workout results, and when the right mix of route and goals do not align the trainer is the logical choice.
Captain Kirk Kirk, on the other hand, reacts. Everything is based on feel and instinct. Attacks are made when they feel good or when they feel something is dangerous. Kirk never wants to be bored and just sit in the field, even though that would mean conserving energy. When bridging to a break there is no calculation of time, distance, or effort, it’s just go as hard as you can until you get there.
Kirk grabs the race by throat and goes for broke. If along the way he blows up, Kirk will chalk it up to an effort attempted – the chips were all on the table. Kirk’s training habits are typically not as tight and calculated. Not that the training is bad, it’s just more by feel. If it’s raining he may just as soon stay inside and relax to save it for a nicer day. Group rides present endless opportunities to socialize and have fun. Laughs are always the order of the day, until the friendly attacking begins, then it is game on.
In the following clip from the movie, you see the differences in personalities. Spock wants to "fall back" and reassess. Kirk on the other hand, wants to "attack"........
Spocks and Kirks in the Peloton In the pro ranks the most obvious Kirk would be Jens Voigt. He is a bike racer cut from the old cloth, attack until you cannot go anymore. He may lose more than he wins, but he never goes down without fighting. On the other side, Bradley Wiggins makes a great Spock. Calculating, precise, strategic and cool as a cucumber. Picking races wisely, focused training that targets the main objectives, and staying with the plan. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks, but neither is wrong.
Who are you? Who are those people around you? And after you figure it out, try injecting a bit of the opposite into your training and racing. A Spock racer may benefit from keeping tabs on Kirks in the peloton, as the crazy Kirk attacks might just be the winning break that a Spock racer never considered exactly because it seems too crazy. On the other hand, a Kirk racer may need to hold back all that awesome form and enthusiasm once in a while so that they’re as fresh as possible when the race is certain to be decided at a critical hill or come down to a sprint.
Try being the opposite once in a while. You may be surprised as to how much it will benefit you!