My bathroom has so many jars of embro and chamois cream that my wife compared me—unfavorably, I should mention—to a woman with too many cosmetics. I’m not really in a position to rebut her charge. I had to buy an organizer to open up counter space. I switch back and forth, trying different stuff and have come to a couple of abiding opinions.
When it comes to chamois cream, I want something light, that spreads easily, rather than thicker and squeezed from a tube. Think baby food instead of peanut butter. Application is both easier and faster and if my administration has been imperfect, a thinner chamois cream can self-correct.
Similarly, I like my embro to go on quick and easy. I don’t want to have to work too hard to massage it in. It needs to perfume the air like I’ve just walked into a Provençal hotel and if heated, it needs to have a half life of at least two hours. I once tried an embro that fizzled like a water-doused candle on my way to meet the group. When I gave it a second try, I did so on a coffee ride so that if the same thing happened again, I didn’t run the equivalent risk of climbing off a plane in Chicago at Christmas, naked. The outcome of that event saw me order a larger than usual chai and I asked them to heat my muffin.
Last winter I received samples of Buckler’s Crème Fraîche chamois cream and the Lionheart embrocation, a special blend they did for the Ritte women’s team. The chamois cream I was able to use right away, but due to winter taking a pass on Southern California last year, the embro had to wait until some of the cool Sonoma County mornings we’ve had of late.
Regarding the chamois cream, I don’t have much to say other than the fact that this stuff is light and spreads easily, making a thorough application quick and easy. Think room temperature butter on a toasted bagel. The other detail worth mentioning is that I’ve tried a few chamois creams that have been overly medicated, to the point that I wonder if maybe I put a very mellow embro on my junk. If you like thrills, you may dig such an experience, but I generally prefer my surprises to come during movies I’m watching on TV. They can’t cause much discomfort that way. The other problem with overly medicated chamois creams is what happens on especially hot days, where a sweat-lubricated shifting of inventory can be accompanied by a shock that might as well be electric.
I most need chamois cream on hot days, incidentally.
With the embro, it’s described of carrying the scent of lavender, mint and victory. If this is what victory smells like, I wish I’d won more often. Hell, if I’d been wearing this, I might have. Lavender dominates fragrance, which is fine by me; the mint just adds a splashy zing that makes two notes seem like a whole chord.
This is a liniment for milder climes, such as California, or Boston in May. It’s more a match than a blowtorch.
What most impresses me about the Lionheart is that this stuff has a half-life of four hours. I rolled out one morning when the temperature was in the low 50s and didn’t enter the 60s until the half-way mark of a six-hour day. The afterglow in the shower reminded me of Mad Alchemy, the way Green Day’s “Dookie” reminds me of The Who’s “Magic Bus.” When the temperature started dropping again in the afternoon as I stood outside doing bike work, the fact that I was wearing shorts proved not to be a problem. Conservatively, this stuff provided functional heat for seven hours with a normal application. I’ve gone super-light since then and still got four strong hours out of the cream. I’ve never encountered a mellow-heat embro that had this kind of staying power. For me, it’s a weekend-only embro. It’s a natural go-to for overcast days where the temperature won’t rise a lot.
The Crème Fraîche chamois cream comes in a 4-ounce tub and goes for $18.95. The Lionheart embro also comes in a 4-oz. tub and goes for $17.95.