Saturday, March 12, 2011

Leg Leavening

Heavy legs. Is there a more evocative expression in the athlete's lexicon? I knew I'd be suffering from that malady today, so I tried, for the tenth time or so, to use embrocation as a remedy. I'm happy to report I finally succeeded. 

A year ago, lured by the wonderful aroma, attractive packaging (sadly, recently changed) and, of course, the tradition and ritual, I purchased a jar of Mad Alchemy's Mellow Heat blend. Since I have only used it under tights or warmers, which increases the heat factor, it turned out to be anything but mellow. There followed many an antic caper involving hopping about in my kitchen post-ride, whimpering in pain.

One lesson learned the hard way: Dish soap is the best way to remove embrocation quickly, thoroughly and painlessly.

After a few experiments, I think I've finally hit on what to do if your embro is too hot. The answer is embarrassingly obvious: Vaseline. (Take it easy there, guys; I'll be filtering for inappropriate comments.) I first applied a goodly layer of it this morning, rubbing down the muscles and connective tissue just as I would with embro. (I love this part, like a combination massage and supercharge.) Once I had a sheen going, I dipped into the Mad Alchemy and layered that on, rubbing it in just as well.

Results were very pleasing.

I wore lighter tights today, allowing the heavy winds to penetrate a bit in order to lighten up on the friction factor, and also to test the brew a bit more than I have. I felt the breeze on my legs, but, even in the beginning, they didn't feel nearly as cold as they would have without the balm.  As I warmed up, of course, the heat factor rose a bit, and the legs felt even better. Nevertheless, I was, as predicted, feeling sluggish and uninspired by about halfway through. All of a sudden, at about 70% of the way, I felt that "tropical breeze" sensation that I've read about waft across my pins. My speed picked up oddly, and the realization came over me that I had an extra half-hour in me that simply hadn't been there 10 minutes before. It was like discovering an extra gas tank. What a treat! Certainly good enough to keep trying the stuff.

There are still variables to conquer: Learning at what temps I can ride bare-legged, how to manage the effects of the sun on embrocated legs (under tights, it's like turning the dial to Broil) and what the effects are over long rides. I look forward to these experiments.

As a little bonus, I sit now before the laptop, in a chilly house, wearing only a baselayer above and bike shorts below, and feeling the most cozy warmth emanate from the gams. You just can't beat it; it's like someone lit a toasty blaze in the fireplace.

Let me know your experiences with embrocation.

No comments: