“Embrocation” – What’s up with that?

One of the reasons I was keen to join the Fiera Race Team when Joe and Shari suggested it, was that I hoped to glean some wisdom from more experienced racers on some of the finer, less obvious points of racing.  Mostly, this is in the hope of not looking like too much of a dork (hence my earlier question on bike helmet visors: cool or fashion faux-pas?).  I guess a secondary objective is that some of this experience can also help me go faster… which actually I guess should trump the first objective since a lot of what cyclists and runners and triathletes do kinda looks silly (spandex? really?)…

Which brings me to embrocation… what’s up with that?

If I wiki it, I get redirected to “Liniment“; which is apparently “especially useful in hot weather to help a hot horse cool down”.

However, embrocation obviously has some role to play in cycling, given that when you Google it you get this and this.  And last year before the Ontario provincial cyclocross championships I saw some guy putting something like this in his shorts.

Can anyone explain?

Get this guy some liniment!


One response to ““Embrocation” – What’s up with that?

  1. For a general overview, look here: http://bikesarethenewblack.com/index.php/embrocation-everyone-is-talking-about-it

    I agree with his general sentiment:
    “You know that stuff you rub on your skin and it contains Methyl Salicylate and smells minty and makes your skin feel “warm.” Embrocation is essentially the same thing, but with a sheen. Why a sheen? Because a pair of well toned and shaven legs are a beautiful thing, but well toned and shaven legs that are all oiled up are even better.”

    However, I’m not sure that I completely understand where this point comes from: “Bike racers or bike enthusiasts are a vain bunch and like cowboys we’re always checking each other out. We’re always sizing up one another, specifically we’re looking at the other guy’s legs and butt, even though the climb will begin and the road will do the job and cruelly separate the pretenders from the contenders.” That is, unless Josh and Stefan have something they want to tell me (specifically about my butt in spandex), as I rarely drop to the back of the peloton to chat with them. 😉

    I mean honestly, if you really wanted to “size someone up”, you’d look for the team in red spandex: http://www.alivewithlove.com/cyclists.html

    …Or maybe acid-washed spandex (nope, not kidding): http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2270/2503453576_f41863a5cc_o.gif

    Digressions aside, there’s really only one rule about embrocation that the cycling gurus should be passing along: order of operations. Runners also are no stranger to this, buttering their proverbial bread with Tiger Balm, XX Warmup, and other spicy products. And there’s the rub (so to speak): addressing your bread-needs in the right order. Between the Chamois Butter, the Mad Alchemy Madness, and the Hammer Gel, you have to keep your lubes straight.

    Much like BEDMAS in high school math, you’d better memorize this:

    1) Food
    2) Bibs
    3) Heat

    FBH sucks as a acronym. How about GST: gel, shorts, uh…nope. Maybe BJS: Bibs, Junk, S…hmmm. Nothing there either. Okay, FBH it is.

    Fix your bars, gels, bottles, etc. before you get going. Nothing like a little Tiger Balm transfer onto a water bottle nipple or gel package to really spoil your nutrition plan. Then you can move on to the shorts. Much like step one, there’s nothing like a little hot balm transfer to the chamois to spoil your day (and your shorts). Last step always: embrocation.

    Something odd about warming (or cooling) products: they have been designed to stick nicely to your skin, so will surely stick nicely to your hands. Before a nice long run, if you choose to vaseline your crotch and nipples after you lather the Tiger Balm Red on your legs, well, that’s your prerogative. I would just advise that you treat this exercise as you would with any other fitness experiment and always test it in training before you try it out on race day.

    And let me know if it’s good. I’ve never had the lubed-up balls to give it a go myself.

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