My education in embrocation (say that three times fast) came not from some Dutch soigneur who had prepared the legs of legions of chiseled Euro PROs as near-freezing rain fell. No, I got the decidedly less sophisticated advice from teammates. They were smart guys who had raced in Europe, but as it happens with all third-hand information, there were helpful bits that either no one ever told them, or were simply omitted by accident.
When I began purchasing embrocations, sorting through some of the Euro product lines was as difficult as making Hollandaise sauce, something I’ve still never done correctly. There were the embrocations themselves, but there were also pre-sport oils and liniments. And then there was post-riding stuff, too. The great source of my confusion was in distinguishing between an embrocation and any other pre-sport sauce. I mean, you’ve got to put the embro on before sport, so aren’t they both, technically pre-sport?
Eventually I came to understand that sometimes you put on a little extra heat before using another embrocation to seal your legs from cold rain. God how that helped me during spring races. And if you have an actual soigneur to do a massage before your race, you live in a realm where embrocation takes on the complexity of calculus.
That was never me. Post-sport rubs and their mission continued to elude me for years.
Funny how one injury can change everything. There are times when you need to ice something. I’m thinking a body part, not a gangster. There are also times when either keeping ice on that body part will be impossible (driving is one good reason) or there is simply no ice available. That’s when I realized that a cooling cream can be handy.
That said, most smell like a Mid-Century Modern medicine cabinet and leave the skin greasy to the touch even an hour later. Not a fave. Recently, I’ve been using a cream from Sportique called (obviously enough) Cooling Cream.
It’s heavy on the peppermint, menthol, camphor and eucalyptus oils. Wearing this stuff while eating a Peppermint Stick Clif Bar leaves me feeling like I’m at a candy cane factory at the North Pole. A terrific feeling, on balance.
There’s probably even less science on how a cream like this will do the same good (or even nearly so) as actual ice. I consider it a hedge in my favor; it has got to be better than nothing. Any time I have to drive to the start of a ride, I pack this tube in my bag so I can hit my shoulder with it once I’ve finished my field shower.
The 6-oz. tube has a suggested retail of $19.95. As I use only a little dab at a time, it could last me a few years, or at least until Alberto Contador’s case is adjudicated.
Learn more here.