As it turns out, the HITT is the largest indoor time trial in the world with about 260 participants competing in heats of 24 at a time. It is kind of like riding the trainer in your basement but with 23 friends all hooked up to computers that measure speed, distance, and wattage. Too bad it didn't measure BAL also, but we'll get to that in a few paragraphs.
The technical side was handled by Fast:Splits, a shop and training facility for endurance athletes in Newton. They seem to be quite popular with the triathalon crowd, a scene I know very little about. Fast:Splits brought the 24 computrainers and the computers to monitor and record everyone's output. Capron lighting and sound brought 9 big flat panel screens so everyone could see their progress in the race. And Harpoon provided the venue and the beer - lots and lots of beer. On tap they had their IPA, the seasonal Celtic Ale, UFO Pale, and UFO Heffeweisen for everyone to try.
We started the first heat at 12:30 PM with the first 24 riders. I don't think any of them were USA Cycling types, at least I didn't recognize any of them. They turned in some impressive times, finishing the 8 mile course in around 20 to 25 minutes. I was still trying to figure out this whole "indoor time trial" computrainer thing at this point as this was my first exposure to it. In fact, this was my first exposure to the world of watts. I am old enough that all we had in my day were heart rate monitors and we liked it that way. And that was only the last couple of years of my so called "career". Most of the time we just rode hard or rode easy, it was very subjective. So when I arrived at the brewery for the HITT, I had no idea if 400 watts is Pee Wee Herman power or Fabian Cancellara power. Turns out, it's closer to Cancellara and there would be a few who would come close to putting out 400 watts for almost 20 minutes.
The route was a simulation of the final 8 miles of the 150 mile Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride (aka B2B). It was mostly flat until mile 6 where a 5% grade kicks up for almost a mile then it's a downhill to the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor Vt. Last year's best time was set by Cort Cramer (Svelte Cycles) at 19:11 with an average power output of 362 watts. For the women it was Ironwoman pro and former US swim team member Dede Griesbauer at 20:57 and 282 watts.
Did I mention that Harpoon was giving away beer? In addition to two free beers to each competitor, they also gave away a case of beer to the mens and womens winner of each heat. Brian Quigley (Colavita) was the mens winner in the second heat and got to take his place on the Harpoon Hot Stool which was kind of like a wobbly life guard stand with two barstools on top. After saying "hot stool" a couple of times over the mic, I unofficially renamed it the Harpoon Hot Seat. I think that sounds better and led to fewer chuckles from the audience. Quigley's time of 19:52, although half a minute slower than his second place time last year, held up for several more heats. While on the Hot Seat, he was served as many beers as he wanted and got to wear the Mavic Red Vest of Courage, the "maillot jaune" of the day. He told me the secret to his success was a combination of lots of basement training, Rage ATM on the earbuds, and Harpoon IPA. Quigley won the Cat 4 race at day 2 of the Downeast Cyclocross in October so apparently he has some skills to go with the power.
Ethan Brown and Karen Smyers enjoying their just rewards
(photo by Harpoon Brewery)