Nineteen Rogue

Posted: July 26, 2012 in Equipment

Lord knows that triathlon isn’t a cheap sport but, over my last three years figuring shit out, I’ve learned some valuable in’s and out’s on how to save some precious dough.  Typically, it’s my aim to spend the majority of my allotted tri-budget on the race weekends themselves to ensure a great getaway and experience.  However, now that I’ve gone beyond the point of this whole craziness being a mere ‘hobby’ and have established that this is something I want to do well (not to mention for years to come still) there will occasionally pop up the odd expenditure that I just won’t be able to justify not spending good money on. For example, I probably spend the equivalent to what Bill Gates might spend on maintaining his Xanadu mansion at Lake Washington on running shoes alone each year but, hey, preserving my running legs with the appropriate shoes is important to me.  Something’s you just don’t skimp out on.

Three years ago, it was my Cervelo P1.  I hemmed and hawed about purchasing a time trial bike but, in the end, figured it was worth having if I ever intended to be a contender so I saved up and purchased Lucille, and I’ve never looked back.  This year, I had need of another such major purchase that I’ve been saving up for; a decent wetsuit.

Four years ago (my first year in Triathlon) I purchased a basic entry level wetsuit, a Nineteen Pipeline, which has served me well for the past three seasons of triathlon but I’ve somehow managed to shrink out of it. Good problem to have, of course, but it also means that I have to now replace it with another and wetsuits aren’t exactly a cheap investment.  I suppose I could put on my ‘Tightwad Triathlete’ hat and attempt to fashion a wetsuit out of garbage bags and duct tape, but I’m not sure how effective (or streamlined) that would prove to be.

Whenever I use my current wetsuit now, it fills with water so that when I stand up I resemble a pregnant woman for whom her water has just broken.  Good look for a dude, right?  Hot?  NOT!   I remember being easily an extra 30-40 lbs. at the time I first went shopping for a wetsuit and so getting sized back then was, well, let’s just say it was quite memorable.  If you’ve ever tried to stuff yourself into a single sausage casing, you might know what I mean.  It’s not a flattering experience, particularly if you’re on the rather, shall we say, ‘rotund’ end of the spectrum body size-wise.  I still wake some nights shaking like a Chihuahua in a snowstorm after reliving nightmares of trying to squeeze my sweaty ass into a neoprene suit in front of a team of cute salesgirls; totally emasculating let me tell you.  When I emerged from the change room only partially clad in this rubberized strait jacket I recall feeling sad and pathetic like one of those crippled Dachshunds with no hind legs who drag themselves around in one of those little carts.  The dutiful salesgirls then had to further assist me by jiggling and shaking the suit over the rest of my fat guy’s frame until it was on successfully, kind of like you would when trying to get a head of wet lettuce into one of those little plastic bags at the super market.  That was then followed by a lot of prodding, pulling, kneading, and tweaking (not to mention grunting and groaning on my part) to get the suit into its perfect position on my Men’s XL body.  At the time, I felt not unlike a lump of dough being worked over by a team of bakers.  I also remember thinking I would rather be tied to a rock and have my liver torn out by an eagle at dawn than suffer through that whole indignity again.  What did I know?

Now, just over four years later here I am, again, willingly putting myself through the same trial of being sized for and purchasing another wetsuit.  Oh, the humanity!  But, ya know, it wasn’t so bad this time around.

The new Nineteen Rogue wetsuit. Sausage personified!

I made my appointment at the local TrySport Niagara multi-sport shop to check out the latest crop of triathlon-specific wetsuits available this year.  I had previously decided to keep my current suit for all my regular training swims, but I really had my heart set on purchasing another high end wetsuit in which to race all my up-coming competitions in.  Something sleek, sexy, comfortable, streamlined and, preferably, equipped with an outboard motor.  I will admit though, it was still with a great deal of trepidation that I submitted myself to this process of wetsuit shopping again as wetsuits do not necessary make me feel sexy or streamlined.  No, they make me feel like a Johnsonville Brat.  But, hey, an overzealous triathletes’ gotta do what an overzealous triathletes’ gotta do and, if humbling myself in a public building is what it takes, then so be it.

After some initial coaching through the fitting process from store proprietor and professional triathlete Wolfgang Guembel, I managed to stuff myself into a Medium-sized Nineteen Rogue  wetsuit (of Wolf’s own design no less).  Medium?   ME?!   Awesome!  It was love at first fitting.  Unlike my previous experience, the suit felt comfortable and seemed to offer me a wider range of mobility that I have been accustomed to with my original entry level suit.  Sure I still looked like a sausage, but a comfortable sleek-looking sausage.  And, hey, if it’s good enough for Simon and Paula at this year’s 2012 Olympic Games, it’s good enough for me!

The Nineteen Rogue utilizes a newly designed CSC Exoskeleton made of strategically placed Japanese neoprene and compression-fabric lining to provide improved core stability while providing a stable platform through which your body can rotate for an efficient stroke.  Likewise, years of testing and development has also led to the creation of the ‘Wingspan Elite’  stretch system which employs only the highest quality neoprene to offers the same mobility of a sleeveless suit.  I’m not 100%  sure what any of this means, but if it equates to being more comfortable and efficient in the water then I’m all for it.

Specific features of the Rogue include an ‘Uncollar’  which helps ensure an effective seal from water entry.  It comprises of a higher, thinner and smoother lip that creates that ultimate seal, specifically when combined with the reverse zipper.  The best part is, which I found out this past weekend at the Toronto Triathlon Festival, was that is also offered me no chafing issues on my neck at all.  In fact, I hardly noticed the neckline at all while swimming.  I’m certain this feature will come in super handy for enduring the uber-cold waters of Tenby’s North Beach.

It also comes equipped with an ‘elbow elevator’  integrated into the forearm panel to help sustain optimized arm position when making the ‘catch’ portion of my stroke to ensure maximum distance per stroke.  This was also noticeable in my weekend swim as their seemed to be an extended glide for each stroke which, I believe, probably assisted with my improved swim time as it felt as if I was swimming more effortlessly and able to sustain my ‘pace’.  Also prevalent to this improved efficiency is the incorporation of ‘catch paddles’ in the forearm to assist with overall buoyancy and additional surface area when making the ‘catch’ and ensure maximum leverage between my elbow and wrist.  In short, I felt like a torpedo in the water.  Winning!

So, I’m as ready for Ironman Wales now as I’m ever going to be.  At least I have the right tools to do the job as effectively as possible anyway.  I still have to endure the final month of long distance training as well as nail down my whole race-day nutrition strategy but I’m confident that, these things aside, I will be as best equipped as possible to give it my best effort.  And if not, I guess there’s always the opportunity to pose as Batman at next years’ Comic Con.


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