my friend simon, keeper of the most excellent blog la gazzetta della bici has something of a sideline in hand-crafting embrocation and massage oils. he recently sent me samples of the pre-ride embrocation and post-ride massage oil (rossa – i’m guessing, there were none of these neat labels on the pots i got).
i am only a fairly recent convert to such wizardry having only used chamois creme since the start of the year. that has been a revelation making long rides far more comfortable.
the benefits of these preparations from simon are less obvious, but just as significant in my opinion.
the embrocation has a similar appearance to tiger balm and smells similar too – maybe not quite as strong. i’ve been using it for the last week or so. this fine weather has meant cold mornings when i leave the house at around 6.30am. my technique is to rub a small amount of this into my calves, knees and thighs before putting on leg-warmers. by the time i’ve finished my bran flakes, my legs are already warm – they feel like they’ve already done 5 miles.
while riding in leg-warmers, you don’t really notice the effect other than this ‘headstart’. however, this morning i had a puncture and had to wait for the team car (my missus) to collect me. when you stop, you really feel the effect. legs are hot, but it doesn’t feel like your skin is burning (think fiery jack), more of a deep-down sensation.
the other thing i likle is when i get to work i shower and remove almost all of the smell of the embrocation, but it is still working. i can sit in the first meeting of the day and feel my legs still glowing…
the post ride massage oil is great. it smells fantastic and is slightly thicker than the usual baby oil (or whatever the missus has in her cupboard). this means you have to work harder on the massage to work it into the skin, so doing more good. i’m sure the benefits of massaging after riding are pretty well known. you don’t even really need to know what you’re doing, just that 10 minutes of manipulation is enough to move on some of that lactic acid and keep your muscles fresher. the oil also rubs in well and doesn’t leave your legs oily all day.
most importantly of course, and like many things related to cycling, it’s how stuff makes you feel that counts and using embrocation and oils is such a PRO thing to do, it has to be worthwhile.