TCI Friday

TCI Friday works best if you read and weigh in, but which I mean express an opinion, not step on a scale.

I don’t shave my legs, because they are very hairy and doing so lets me in for all manner of complications and displeasures. I also don’t have the time or patience for that, and my wife has expressed the opinion that she doesn’t find it sexy. In the pantheon of people who get to weigh in on my potential sexiness, only one vote really counts, so…hirsute I remain.

Now, if you’ve made it to the second paragraph after that whopper of an opening, you’ll be wondering why I imparted any of that information to you and why you should care. Well, because we’re on the backside of the autumnal equinox and temperatures (at least here in New England) are now in the 40-50F range, it is embrocation season.

What is embrocation? Well, it’s goo. It’s goo you smear on your legs (and maybe other body parts) to keep them warm without recourse to tights or knee warmers or other forms of textile doping. Embrocation is like a liniment crossed with an unguent, not to be confused with ungulate, and there are a variety of embrocations that warm, that cool, that lubricate, that smell nice, etc.

I myself only partake of these body greases sparingly. I have a nice tub of Mad Alchemy Warming Cream and Muscle Rub, which I mostly use on my lower back when I’ve been riding a lot and the sinews there have grown as curmudgeonly as their owner. I don’t really feel cold like most people, so slathering my knees with goo is a much less common solution for me, but I do know people who are great fans of the goo-slathering lifestyle.

This week’s TCI Fridays wonders, “Do you even embro, bro?” I’m sorry. I couldn’t not write that. But seriously, do you have a medicine chest full of creams and unguents, or do you just pull on a pair of knee warmers like a normal person and get on with your business. If you do embro, where do you put it, and how do you get it off once you’re “done with it?”

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Join the conversation
  1. Wyatt says

    Never tried it. Always seemed too good to be true and I have clothes that do the job without too much fuss. That said, I’m not anti-embro per se and if it gets even one person out on a chilly day when they otherwise wouldn’t have gone then that’s good enough for me.

    1. albanybenn says

      Don’t embro and don’t shave. Layers work for me.

  2. tcfrog says

    No embro for me, it seems to overly complicate things when knicker- and full-length bibs exist. I’d rather have a few extra grams of clothing on than deal with the additional cleanup of goo smeared on my legs, because while I sweat quite profusely, my knees are one spot that usually remain dry. I’m in Northern Michigan, so the time when a thin layer on the knees is enough is extraordinarily fleeting, and I’d rather invest time and money in solutions that can be used for a wider time span.

  3. spokejunky says

    First, shaved legs: yes, and it just feels weird not too anymore. I’ve tried over winter to grow it, but it’s like a beard being scratchy or just weird feeling anymore. Second, embro: not anymore, full on knickers/knee warmers/tights. After reading affects of heat/cold on tendons I became the knee warmer king. You could always start the old argument of what temperature you should start wearing knee warmers and then stand back for the fists to start swinging.

  4. bart says

    I live in Minnesota and for me there is a big difference between “feeling warm” and actually “being warm”. I’ve bike commuted through 10+ winters and when it’s actually cold (50 degrees doesn’t count as cold for me) I’m focused on my core temperature as much as I am on how the skin on my legs feels. I’ve tried the embrocation approach, and all it does for me is draw blood to my skin to make me feel warm but leaves me vulnerable to actually being cold on the inside. As a result, I stick with layers of clothing as my main solution. I wouldn’t want to try to convince anyone else that my approach is correct for them. I think it’s really all about personal experimentation and figuring out what works for you.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Bart – I remember once about 20 years ago pulling up to an intersection in Cambridge. It was about 40F out, and I was in shorts and a t-shirt. This older dude next to me, all bundled up, looks over and says, “It’s a little cold for shorts, no?” And I said, “I believe, to be warm, you gotta get a little cold,” and he, all of a sudden became incensed and said, “I think I know what I’m doing after 40 years of doing it!” And I just smiled and said, “I’m sure you do.”

  5. mattdwyerva says

    No thanks, I have some nice knee warmers (well ok, there a bit torn I guess, I’m pretty loose with the word “nice. “). They keep me comfortable and I don’t stain furniture (well sure ok, that blood stain is not good, but, yeah, never mind.)

  6. Jeff vdD says

    Never embro’d. Never chamois butter’d. Therefore never mixed the two up.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Never chamois buttr’d!!!! Jeff, you must have the loins of iron!

  7. alanm9 says

    I’m in the nope column for shaving and embro. Shorts in the 40s, knicks in the 30s, tights below that.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Alan, you sound like a man of my temperature. I’m glad I’m not alone.

  8. Dan Murphy says

    Never. Never even considered it. I just put on whatever clothes on I think I need and hope for the best. Being an older guy, staying warm is a bit more challenging than, say, 30 years ago.

  9. Hautacam says

    Ah the Belgian Knee Warmers. I fooled around with embro substitutes (Tiger Balm!) back in the waning decades of the 20th century, along with shaving the legs, gluing on tubular tires. and filling my waterbottles with hot tea with honey on cold winter rides because Eddie B said so. No time for any of that stuff now. Knicker length bibs or actual fabric leg warmers and i’m gtg.

  10. Julie Snyder says

    Wooly tights. DIY neoprene knee warmers if the trick-knee is feeling grouchy.
    Embro products probably aren’t snake-oil, but they trigger my incredulity faster than anti-aging creams.

  11. TominAlbany says

    Hair on legs. Shave for a hot second in the ’90s and it just took too much time to have to do it again.

    Never tried embro. I have some. Never tried it.

    Chammy cream I’ve tried a couple of times. It works but, I rarely need it. Maybe I’m not riding hard enough. Far enough. Long enough.

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