Embrocation.From the Oxford English Dictionary: (noun) A liquid used for bathing or moistening any diseased part; now usually restricted to applied by rubbing; a liniment.
As I think ahead to a weekend of riding in cold & wet weather, I can’t help but think that embrocation will be part of my pre-ride ritual each day. There is something very comforting in looking down at your shiny embrocated legs as they are being pelted with cold rain and realizing that you feel no sting whatsoever.
I started using embrocation during cyclocross season because I wanted to experience every nuance of the cyclocross culture. Applying embrocation has now become part of my routine whenever I ride in the rain and/or cold.
Embrocation is the essence of cycling. One of those things that just makes your world spin. Technically, you could do without embrocation, but that’s not living. Embrocation is the jam on your toast, the honey in your tea. Its hot infusing carrier oils with capsicum at 2:00 in the morning. It’s pure, it’s life, and it’s just plain good. Embrocation used to be just for race day, but lately has found it’s way into the daily routine. Wake, shower, dress, coffee, embrocate, commute. It helps you feel cool on the hottest days and warms through to your heart when the mercury dips. Embrocation is the panacea for a ho-hum day. ~ Pete Smith, Founder of Mad Alchemy Embrocations
In an effort to help those who have never indulged in the practice of embrocating before a ride, I thought I would share a few basics. I call this Embrocation 101.
DO’s - Apply embrocation using a powder-free disposable glove (Latex or Nitrile work). - Embrocation is not just for the legs. It works on the feet and feels especially good on the lower back. - It is perfectly acceptable to wear embrocation under knee warmers or leg warmers. In the wet, you can feel the embrocation creating an impenetrable layer under your soaked knee/leg warmers. - Choose wisely. If you are new to embrocation, try the “medium” heat before jumping to the “high” or “madness” levels of heat. - At the end of your ride, use Wet Ones wipes to remove the majority of the embrocation and road grime from your legs. Rubbing alcohol and a paper towel works in a pinch.
DON’Ts - Do NOT embrocate hairy legs. Your fellow cyclists do not want to look at your sticky, matted leg hair under a layer of embrocation. - Do NOT apply embrocation before stepping into your bib shorts. Always put your bib shorts on, roll the legs of your shorts up, and then apply embrocation below the legs of your shorts. This will prevent embrocation from accidentally being spread to the genital area as you pull your short into place…which would be bad. Very bad. - Do NOT double-dip into your friend’s jar of embrocation. This is not as bad as double-dipping into your friend’s jar of chamois cream but it is still considered bad form.
Phew! That one hurt a little. - 6,200' of climbing - A little over 4 hours in the saddle - 273 TSS - The "key" = hold back a little and don't go above L4. - Number of cars that passed me on the climb in four hours: 4 (Offseason baby!)
Just before the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde I decided to sell my Santa Tallboy frame and try the new Giant AnthemX 29er. I bought a large AnthemX 29er frame from Fitzy’s and moved all of my parts over from the Tallboy frame. It was an easy swap and I was able to get the new frame built up in time to take it to the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde where I completed five laps on it (plus two laps on the singlespeed). The bike immediately felt comfortable and being able to crank out 80 miles on the first outing is good sign.
Specs: 100mm of travel front & rear Fox RP23 Shock is standard Sold as a complete bike or frame only Tapered head tube
Q) Aren’t aluminum 29er full-suspension bikes heavy? A) The AnthemX 29er frame was only .09 lbs heavier than my carbon Tallboy frame. The complete bike weighed in at a very respectable 24.2 lbs.
Q) How does the Maestro suspension compare to the Tallboy’s VPP suspension? A) I am not an engineer or a suspension geek but I do like the way the AnthemX 29er rides “taller” in its travel. It makes the bike feel snappy and also gives you the feeling that you are using more of its travel on bigger hits. I haven’t felt the need to run the Fox’s ProPedal setting higher than “1” to compensate for pedal bob.
Q) Can you run SRAM 2x10 on the AnthemX 29er? A) Yes, there is plenty of chainring clearance to run a 24t, 26t, or 28t in the front.
The AnthemX 29er has an open front triangle with a ton of room. If and when you are mentally blown in a race, it will still be easy to reach down and shove a bottle into its cage. This may seem like a little thing but I have already come to appreciate this feature.
I am stoked that the Fitzy Team now has a great option for a full-suspension 29er race bike. On top of that, the AnthemX 29er might be the best value out there for a full-suspension 29er.
Quick Stats Place: 11th Solo Male Laps: 7 Laps on the singlespeed: 2 Miles: 114.8 Self Grade: A- Favorite Race Moment: All 7 times through the Rib Cage!
Air time in the Rib Cage
Racing the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde never leaves me wondering whether I should mix it up and do something different the following May with my race schedule. This race is just too fun and comprises everything I look for in an event; fun people, the best lap-race course on the planet, and solid race organization. I love it.
Back in January when I signed up for this race, I circled it as an “A” race and I really wanted to go faster than I went in 2010. My goal changed in late March when I got sick for three weeks and missed out on a block of timely Mesa Verde training. In the four weeks leading up to Mesa Verde, I did a pile of aerobic-paced riding to try and rebuild my fitness foundation. I really wasn’t sure how my race was going to go other than I was going to do everything humanly possible to ride for 12 hours straight and have fun. I definitely wasn’t going into this race “peaking and rested”. I am stoked that the diesel engine came back to life and I was able to lay down a solid race.
16 Miles of pure greatness
Set Yourself Up For Success Odds are good that at some point over the course of a 12 hour race something will go wrong. Wrap your brain around this fact and be ok with it. My pit layout was simple and efficient this year which is especially key when racing unsupported as I was. I could roll in, refill the Osprey bladder with Carbo Rocket and cold water, grab a handful of the snacks I craved, slug down a bit of cold water, lube the chain if needed, and be out of there within minutes. I also had tools and spares of key items laid out so I wouldn’t have to dig for them. NOTE: I estimate that at Mesa Verde a dedicated support person is worth 15-18 minutes to a solo racer over the course of 12 hours if the team executes the transitions perfectly.
Drink The high on Saturday was 80F. 80F doesn’t sound that hot right? But 80F @ 6,200’ elevation with a hairdryer wind will suck the moisture right out of you. I drank 48-56oz of Kiwi Lime Carbo Rocket every lap (1:36:00 to 1:45:00) and I think this was a key ingredient to my solid race. Oh yeah, and a few Pringles too.
To singlespeed, or not I had a blast pre-riding the course Friday on my Niner One9 singlespeed with a 32 x 20 gear. I am sure that there were plenty of manly-men pushing a 34 x 19 or something similar and ridiculously tall. However, this gear “seemed” like it would work for me if I chose to ride the singlespeed late I the race. Plus, LW said she used this gear at Mesa Verde two years ago, and she is really fast, so I went with it. My plan was to ride two laps in a row with gears and then ride two in a row on the singlespeed. After that I was simply going to ride whatever sounded more fun…and I chose gears. My singlespeed lap times were solid, and I had fun, but I am not sure that I am a singlespeed racer yet. Sure, I like riding my singlespeed for some variety. I am just not sure whether I like “racing” it as much as I do my geared bikes. I think I need to just pick one for a given race and stick to it.
Lower Back pain After lap #2, lower back pain was starting to affect my attitude and my speed. Thoughts of my lower back issues at Old Pueblo crept into my brain briefly. I switched to the singlespeed (which I had planned to do before the race) and I noticed that the required standing while riding the singlespeed helps stretch out my lower back quite a bit. Later in the race I used this same technique on my AnthemX 29er with some success. I would shift to a harder gear and stand more than I normally would while climbing to take some pressure off of my back. This is not as efficient as spinning up a climb while seated but it helped my lower back and kept me racing. Honestly, I was hoping that my recent stretching and yoga would make a bigger difference than they did. There are no magic bullets.
The Finale I was really hoping for a good battle to push me at the end…the mini “race within’ the race” that I often find myself in. My race standing put me in a weird no-man’s-land though because I hadn’t seen a solo male racer in two laps. So I raced myself. Technically, I was racing my last year’s finishing time of 6:49 PM and I emptied the tank on my last lap to beat it. I ended up finishing at 6:46 PM...nice!
Final Random Thoughts - A new rule this year stated that you had to start your last lap before 6 PM. The old cutoff was 6:30 PM. The laps are long so I understand why they did it and I don’t blame them. This rule will make it even harder for me to achieve my goal of 8 laps…but of course I will try. - Carbo Rocket and EFS Liquid Shot continue to work really well for me as my primary fuel & electrolyte replacement. No stomach issues! - The new AnthemX 29er is the shizzle…more on this later. - Getting pre and post race text messages containing inspirational quotes from “Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is awesome.
I am selling my large Santa Cruz Tallboy frame with a Cane Creek 110 tapered headset. I would prefer to sell it locally but I will list it on Ebay this Sunday, May 15th. Please pass this along if you know someone who might be interested.
Asking $1,800 for frame and headset. Retail is $2556 ($2,400 for frame + $156 for headset)
I bought the frame new in late September 2010 and rode it through October 2010. Then winter came…and is still here in Victor, ID. It was ridden three days in St. George in January and two more days in April. I think it has less than 12 days total on the frame. There is a scratch on the left rear chainstay where the brake rotor dinged the frame during a wheel swap. There are also minor cable rub marks on the head tube and a mark where the front derailleur was mounted.
I will accept cash, check (from friends), or PayPal. If you pay with a credit card using PayPal, an additional 2.9% will be added to the price.
Michelle and I are both racing solo and we had a great pre-ride of the course today. Not to rub it in to my homies back in Victor & Jackson, but it was really nice to shred singletrack in the sunshine today.
The Fitzy Team has a new race weapon in the quiver this year...and I really dig it so far. Yeah, it's aluminum and it's pretty light.