Every now and then you slip down the rabbit hole and aren’t even aware how it happened.
Last fall, Byron from Bike Hugger referred a tweet to me in which the Twitterer asked just what embrocation is. I started to reply with a 140-character techsplanation and then realized (thank heaven) that I had promised the world I would try not to go all Dr. Spock on Twitter.
So I had some fun.
I suggested that embrocation is “heat in a jar, cream of courage, a forcefield of awesomeness.”
No sooner had I composed my little near-haiku that I realized I had an idea for Pete Smith at Mad Alchemy. As much as I love embrocations, start oils and chamois creams, the companies behind them rarely have any personality. They can be forgiven for that; giving a substance you rub on your body much personality can be like trying to draw a smiley face on a plank of wood. On the other side, if it had too much personality it could get creepy.
For reasons I can’t explain Mad Alchemy seems to have struck a balance between straightforward products and a brand with a sense of fun. So I fired off an email to Pete and suggested I had a name for a new product: Cream of Courage. His response: Let’s do a custom embro.
How could I say no?
I asked Pete to dash up something that smelled like a Provençal herb garden. Heavy on the lavender and rosemary and then improvise from there. He made several non-warming blends for me to try and following a second round we settled on a blend that leads with lavender, has a strong undercurrent of rosemary, plus dashes of sage and mint. It’s the sort of scent that lingers pleasantly in any room you enter. You become a one-cyclist air decorator.
Usually, we seem to be working the other end of the spectrum. Ahem.
Pete’s a genius. It’s unquestionably my favorite embro of all time, but then, it’s exactly what I asked for. (Though I gotta admit, last season’s Chris Jones Signature was distinctly amazing.)
Because it’s almost always chilly for my morning rides here in the South Bay, but rarely ever frigid, I went for a mellow heat which should be good enough to keep your gams happy into the 40s and has the staying power of the spring classics—this stuff will heat for six hours … more if you use it liberally.
Pete doesn’t seem to be desperate for business; he didn’t need this order, but I’ve really enjoyed doing this because I like him and what he’s about and this was way more fun than just writing another glowing review of one of his embros. This was a genuine chance to put my money where my mouth is.