Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Which I Try Badger Balm as an Embrocation

A Dawn Ride this morning at 7:20 led me out in temps in the upper 20s, thinking that the March sun would take the edge off and make the RealFeel or whatever they call it more like mid-30s. I forgot that we live in the headwind capital of New England, and the wind off the river, unimpeded by the flat farmfields in-between, can be brutal. It was cold. I should have gone running. In fact, that's what I kept telling myself as my fingertips grew ever more painful.

However, my legs were warm. I once again protected them with something more than just clothing.

In my new adventures with all things balmy and unguential, I recently bought a tin of Badger Balm's Sore Joint Rub. It's kind of spendy, but I had a gift certificate to Whole Foods, so it was happily free of charge to me. I kind of hedged on my choice of Badger products; they have a Sore Muscle Rub that includes more capsicum (extract of either cayenne or chilis; the stuff that makes most embrocations feel hot) but I chose the Sore Joint deal because I already have a hot embro... and because the zippier Muscle Rub stuff smells a lot like those odorous herbal ointments for repelling mosquitos. Not very enticing.

The Sore Joint balm, on the other hand, derives some of its heat from ginger extract, and let me tell you, it smells delicious. I love to rub down with it first thing in the morning, before a ride or run. That spicy scent zips right up my nose and gets my brain all kinds of charged up.

However, no matter how much I rub on, it doesn't give more than a slight warm glow. That's not really what it's for. So the cold protection I derived from it this morning was more due to the heavy, waxy nature of the balm (hard to remove from the tin, therefore, but also better at staying on the skin). It kept the windchill off the gams pretty well, though I'd say my Vaseline-embro home brew is the most effective recipe yet. (Last weekend, I rode with that in the upper 30s, and, with knickers on, my calves and shins felt comfy and energized.) (I should mention that Badger has an Extra Strength Sore Muscle Rub, which, while still smelling bug ointment-y, claims to have extra heat and might make a more suitable cold weather embro.)

I'll probably stick to using the Sore Joint Rub for its intended purpose. It's got arnica extract in it, and I have had miraculous results with that stuff when dealing with aches, pains, and especially bruises or swelling. It's even healed slightly torn muscle overnight, once or twice.

Well, I admit it: I'll probably also pull the stuff out in April, when it's in the 50s and I don't need heat as much on my legs. Sometimes I even slap it on in the moring before work (on the pretense that there might be soreness later if I don't rub it up now). I just can't resisit a vigorous, aromatic rubdown.

I'm even spitballing ideas with Mrs. V. about creating my own, home-brewed embro sometime in the next few months. If you have any ideas for a product name, use the comments section. I'll consider all submissions.

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