I figure I should chime in on this one. There is an email thread on the OBRA mailing list that I caught this morning:
I would like some suggestions on embrocation. Do you embrocate? What brand/type do you use? Where do you purchase it? What would work in Portland type weather?
I too, think using embrocation falls into the same line of questions as: “why do bike racers shave their legs?”
Part tradition, part function, part ritual, part sex appeal.
I am a critic and as practical as they come. To be honest, I loathe shaving my legs (too time consuming) and I don’t particularly like creams and oils (yo, I like my skin’s natural feel). Yet I shave. And embrocate the hell out of my legs.
Similar to shaving your bike-racer legs, there are logical reasons to embrocate: (some are quite a stretch in their justification of the fancy habits) you shave so that road rash is easier to clean, so that your massages are smoother and yes, so that you are more “aero”.
You embrocate to encourage blood flow in the leg muscles, for a warming (or cooling) effect, to protect your legs from the elements, to prevent chafing, to facilitate quicker clean up for the podium presentation (and/or post-race recreation), and to promote a generally high level of euro-ness.
If you are a curmudgeon and far, far too many in Portland are, you have already harumphed at most of the ridiculous things cyclist’s do. (except those you do yourself) And, I am right there with you, making fun of myself. (electronic shifting? plastic bicycles?!) Yet, I choose to encourage and embrace the beauty and spectacle of the culture we are a part of.
Please know I am also a leg warmer connoisseur. I love them and wear them religiously. Being a frail and weakly vegan (note: sarcasm), my body temp runs cold. Like real cold. I need to wear very warm gear when training. A training rule I gleaned from an old school, eastern bloc style, euro cycling coach: wear a warm jacket and keep your legs covered if it is colder than 70 degrees. 70 degrees! I still live by this rule on the bike. (off the bike, not so much. I’m known to wear as little clothing as possible, whenever possible)
However for racing, you don’t want to be carrying around any extra weight. Lose the leg warmers. Which will get heavy when wet. And, when clothing gets wet, it gets cold. Who wants to race with heavy wet clothes on? Use embrocation.
After an evening spent meditating on my race and well, you know, the standard cyclocross rituals; the virgin priestesses shaving my legs in a bath of imported mineral water, inflating my tubulars to 2 BAR with my own lungs and the blessing of my bicycles by a zen buddist monk (cyclocross is there is no cyclocross), I’ll wake up and have a bowl of plain pasta 4 hours before my start time.
I’ll use a light embrocation after my morning shower, applied under my leg warmers and put my warm-up kit on before traveling to the race, (you always want to arrive in kit, ready to pre-ride the course). Then, an hour before my start, I’ll apply my personal embrocation blend. (putting leg warmers back on if needed. With this said, you keep your warm up jackets and warmers on until you are in the start grid, hopping up and down for warmth with 2 minutes to start, then yank them off and toss to your team sognier) For years I was just using plain vasoline as, all I really wanted was protection from the wind and rain. I have even made some of my own embrocations but, now I just leave it to the professionals to make it for me.
I requested Mad Alchemy make my blend kinda thick with a little bit of warmth and a lot of minty freshness. I layer it on heavy and it wipes off clean with a warm cloth. You do bring two warm towels to the races right? Well, if you don’t, you must start. Nothing is better than being able to race, get covered in mud, then use warm wet towels to wipe the embrocation off your legs and then your face (with the clean towel, obviously).
Embrocation: vanity? eh, maybe. Functional, very much so. Yet another ridiculous thing cyclists do? Clearly. And come on, if you live in Portland, being a hairy legged bike racer is just about as original as… well it just is not really that different. Will not using embrocation keep you from riding satisfaction? Probably not.
But should you embrace the embrocation? Of course you should. Not to be like everyone else, or VDB, or the MC. But to create your own rituals and define your own routine for racing and riding. If you pay attention to the details, which most cyclists do, it is just another tool for you to use as needed.
ok, some home made soba curry awaits. I’m out.
(I need to post these a little more timely.)
Whoa. Feeling super emotional today! And, fittingly the Portland weather obliges. Rain, grey and rain.
I am also completely freaked out about the trip to Japan. Wrapping up the details, making it through the UEF open house, getting the work schedule dialed, paying the bills and packing has taken a toll on me. Oh packing. I hate packing.
I am freaked. It is long time to be away from home, not that it is unusual for me to travel for racing but, to Japan… JAPAN?!
Just go ahead and take your mind out and put it in the blender. Because once you watch this video, your brain will be scrambled.
Too much in this video. Just too much. I mean, the girls that are tied up to the tree are still dancing while tied up.
I think…… I think I am taking the weekend OFF!
I’m 4th in the Cross Crusade overall standings but, I think I need to skip it tomorrow to prepare for the trip to Japan. Check out the photo! I’m just cracking up on the first lap!
The open house last night was off the hook! And, I am truly, deeply mentally and emotionally wiped out!! So many great people to talk to, the future is going to be fantastic!! I love my life, my job and I love the cycling community we have forged over the last bunch of years!
I am flying to LA on Monday, then bouncing to Japan on Tuesday. I am racing the NOBEYAMA cyclocross race on Halloween weekend!
I am sure by now you have all seen this:
This is a pretty cute and accurate summary of cyclocross. Click on the image for the entire comic!
yeah yeah yeah, I’ve been having a rough go of it this season. Not looking for “poor molly!” sympathy but, if anything looking to vent and turn my scene around. The 2 most common phrases out of my mouth are “I’m so fucking tired.” and “I’m so fucking busy.” So, the insanity is not new to me. But, I am a planner and a communicator. I like to lay things out months in advance and then have the plans come together smoothly. I like to have a solid idea of what the future holds in store, what my agenda is and how I can budget my time. Because I do NOT have enough of it and, I’m smart about putting it where needed, when needed. I also like to be really good at the things I do. And, racing cyclocross is a big one.
Don’t really know where I am going with this. But, I am tired. Deeply, deeply tired. And, it is showing. I want to take a week long nap and reset. CX season has hardly begun and, I am already feeling haggard.
If I am good at anything, it is being honest with myself. And, I am telling my self to back off a little, recover + re-charge and look forward to Japan and beyond. I’m not even sure if I want to race a bike this week, I may just get caught up on work and see how the hell I am feeling. Well, I really should give the Blind Date another go on Wednesday evening. Man, it is going to suck once it starts raining and we have to ride out and race at night in the rain every Wednesday night.
Oh snap, rumor has it I’ve got a leader’s jersey to wear for that series!
So much awesome stuff catches my eyes. I don’t have enough hours in the day to take it all in, check it all out or experience. Pete just sent me this insanity:
Margaret Kilgallen is one inspiring lady. MLFYIASOH has a nice article and link to this video below. I was lucky enough to have known her, if only for a little while.
More inspiration, click the words below. This is a sentiment I absolutely share.
Jeff Curtes is a nice guy, an adventurer and photographer. Click the link and enjoy his little blog.
The VideoGamer nerd’s partners will enjoy this. Can’t remember who I saw this from.
And everyone caught this right? Ryan’s bike with some sweet-as tyres!
And, I have posted about these prints before but, you should check them out again. Because I can do whatever the hell I want. Except race my cx bike adequately this season, apparently.
Oh man. Bad luck continues. Got taken out of the lead group early in the race when someone crashed in front of me. Argh. Chased hard but, lost so many spots getting back on the bike…
Not stoked on 14th place today. Really not.
Looking forward to getting home and trying to get my life back together and straightened out this week!
YO check out this video:
Quick update here. I am down in Los Angeles chasing UCI points. A couple small races, put on by Dot Wong (long time CX racer) in San Dimas. I am staying with Jeff and Cara but, they are doing the 508 over the weekend so, I have the house to myself. Aaron Schooler is here staying with me too. Really, why do I always shack up with the Canadians?!
I had a rough week, if you could not tell by my most recent blog post and I was not feeling great on Saturday. Warming up my back was killing me and, 3 laps into the race it seized up and, I pulled the plug. Lots of stretching and lots of sleep were had last night and, I’m feeling pretty good about smashing it today!
Re-posting up this video I saw somewhere else because it is completely insane. Not safe for work, or anywhere really. Not sure if I love it or hate it, I love lady hip-hop and sex workers but, maybe this crosses the line into an offensive parody? Decide for yourself:
Dude. Seriously. For me, yes. I am close to cracking and I can’t keep up this pace anymore.
I’ll consider it a big success if I can even find the time to show up and start more cyclocross races this fall, let alone try to have anything resembling good results this season. I’m at peace with it, sometimes real life takes priority. And, while I am usually good at balancing the multiple facets of my life and careers, this time, I am overwhelmed.
I am spread so damn thin right now. What were well laid plans and preparation have been thrown to the wind when 2 of 3 of my friends/employees screwed me pretty good; leaving the Veloshop without notice, dumping 80 hours of wrench-time into my lap, timed precisely with the start of the insanity of cyclocross season and race travel kicking off; the renovation, move-across-town and build out of the Portland Bicycle Studio – Upper Echelon fitness training center in NW and the now time consuming interview and hiring processes of new high quality people for the Veloshop. It has been challenging times.
But, through all of the disappointment and insanity of the last month, so many shining stars.
Castelli USA has taken really good care of me this season and, before I try to start the necessary HUGE thank you list of sponsors, I wanted to point Castelli out. That’s why I’m racing in a Castelli skinsuit. I’ve not had 5 minutes to design my kit for this season! Crazy crazy busy times.
Here are some videos to get you caught up on my racing of late:
I guess the biggest thing to take from the last month is…
…that I need a haircut. Badly. So if someone shows up to a race (probably the only time anyone will catch me in one place for more than 2 minutes.) with scissors and some clippers, I would appreciate a faux-hawk. thank you.
I know my mantra over the years is “oh, waaah, I am SOOO busy”. But, this time is very different. Back to the old-school MC days, working 10 – 12 hour days in the Veloshop cranking the bike work out and not riding a bike all week. Yet, so much good change will come from this hiccup to the cyclocross season. The Veloshop has been badly in need of some positive energy and a higher level of professionalism.
I’m canceling some of my race – travel. Still heading to Japan for Halloween weekend but, I’ve got to stay home and take care of business. I’ll be in LA this weekend and after that, home until the new Veloshop guys get up to speed and work becomes manageable again.
I’ll be turning the pedals over in fucking anger this fall, as a bunch of people deserve a good ass kicking at my hands but, in lieu of doing that, I’ll just try to tear some legs off in the bicycle races.
First, I’ve noticed a LOT of sick music coming from some awesome ladies. I hope the rest of Ms. Dynamite and Maya’s albums are as good as these singles!!
WTF, take me to the future!! It is like I am on Arrakis and high on Spice! And is not Katy B. a dead ringer for Sookie from True Blood?
Ok, hate on the electronic and the popiness of it all. Ms. Dynamite rocks like Major Lazer and that, I am feeling.
I love the culture I surround myself in.
I am also loving that I have a rest week and can find time to catch up on work, real life, do a bit of hanging out and enjoying of iced Americanos.
The Portland Bicycle Studio road team just participated in the Rapha Gentleman’s race yesterday. A 130 something mile gravel road heavy slog all over the coastal hills in Oregon. We had some guest muscle in the form of one Jason Riffle and the Miller Kid. I just did the driving, hauling bikes and gear to and from the event and finish. From all accounts, it was BRUTAL. Sager and Trebon schooled everyone, riding solo, dry heaving and finally collapsing at the finish, partaking on some Cobra Dogs + soda and telling me I should eat meat. jerks! (treboohoo, not Cobra dogs.)
My PBS guys were all pretty well shattered, I got to hear stories about pushing each other up hills, vomiting, passing out, cramping + close to a dozen flat tyres. Desperation. Sweat. and yes, maybe a few tears. Wives and girlfriends and babies and dogs were in attendance at the finish at Chris King co. I’m appreciative all of the things a family brings to the deal (of life!) Must feel pretty awesome to have what you love at the finish of a long day in the saddle.
The Cycling Tips blog put up an argument inciting post about the LBS (local bike shop) vs. Online retailing. Read it here. A decent read but, mostly depressing. Why the fuck would anyone want to own a small retail bike shop anymore. Almost makes no sense… yet, I still fight the good fight.
Speaking of small bike shops, one of the raddest of rads manages one. And passed this video on to me. Possibly one of my favorite videos of the year. Brilliant!!
Thanks NewAntarctica! PS: listening to the Queen discography right now. SO GOOD.
The last couple of weeks have been insane for me! Work, sleep, work, sleep. FML means: fuckmylife. Yeah, there are reasons I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed, holy crap I am slammed! In a beautiful yet, time consuming way. The Portland Bicycle Studio is busy, the Veloshop is jamming and cx season is ready to explode upon the world. Good times.
I found these images and sounds inspiring. If you have 30 minutes to kill, enjoy these videos, images and culture I’ve stumbled upon. I’m going to go ride my cyclocross bike after I get done working and arranging clients bicycles on this gray, sunless Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of cyclocross, Cross Junkie gives us a killer little video of our favorite socially awkward Belgian, K Pawls. Featuring a perfectly Belgian pastime: sprinting up muddy hills (on a farm) over and over and over again. With your disabled trainer in a sweet off road wheelchair, giving you the time-splits (with a stop-watch, who needs a power meter anyways?!) and a suave Belgian cyclocross legend hanging out, kicking the dirt, making small talk and observing you work. Classic.
I don’t know Liz but, I am a huge fan of Ludo. Bald doping bastard… the video is worth making it all the way through, a mix of vlaams and english so you can’t get too lost. Liz Hatch en haar idool Ludo Dierckxsens Click on the image to check out the video.
Rider’s Collective has a story on me in the July issue. Click through to download the .pdf and check it out!
Independent Fabrication is rocking it hard right now!!
My dear pal Cara Gillis is so PRO. And racing over in Belgium right now with the Canadian national team. L’original! She is posting up some videos and photos for the racing and travels on her blog. Come home in one piece Cara!