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I was checking out some forums about embrocation and wasn't able to find a whole heck of alot except which brands people prefer. Found this: was interesting and somewhat insightful. But I thirst for knowledge. How well does this stuff really work and benefits over clothing articles, such a non-Belgian kneewarmers? I'm a total newbie, show me the light.

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Chris - here you go. The place to start. Then get some mad alchemy (mild, med and hot). Dont get it on the wrong places or you will be sorry...
I swear by embro. We carry the Sportsbalm brand which I use all the time in the Fall. Every race. I can't stand having knee or leg warmers on, so I will never wear them. I think I was one of two or three in the elite race at nationals last year without leg covering. I put the hottest level on first and then find that I can jump start it with some Cajeputi Oil. I put the hot stuff on for my first warm up laps and re-apply the hot and the Cajeputi Oil about half an hour before the start. I might still keep leggings on at the start area, but I'll take them off for the race itself.

Thats just me. I see a lot of guys race with leggings on, and a few that kick my ass every time I ride, so its totally personal preference.
Sports balm medium is my choice as well and it is really "hot light". It lasts so long and is great for spring and fall road riding as well.
How do you like the oil compared to the #2 balm? It'd be nice to have something hot that's not thick when it's a bit warmer.

I'm a big fan of Sportsbalm too. Used it for years and years.

'Cross is somewhat unique in that it's typically held in pretty cold weather and you'll be standing on the line for a few minutes, but you'll quickly be quite hot from the effort. And it's not like you can strip off layers like you would in a road race or even a crit. (plus there is less cooling from airflow, thus increasing the amount of heat you build up)

Embrocation is meant to bridge the gap between finishing your warm up and the second lap of the race. It doesn't actually make you warmer but it does make you feel warmer. It's not a replacement for good clothing choices but it can keep area warm that might otherwise be cold till you get warmed up again. For instance, you wouldn't want to do a 4 hour road ride with Belgian knee warmers rather than real ones. But for 'cross, you're going to be burning hot in about a lap so Sportsbalm (or the like) works well.

Buy some, experiment with what you like in training. Some people have a reaction to the capsaicin so find that out before race day. Chamois first, then balm. And to get it off use alcohol in a spray bottle. Water only intensifies the effect of embrocations.
Mad Alchemy makes some great stuff - I like the medium heat. It has the consistency of Vaseline and it provides an excellent barrier against the elements. I've even used it on really cold races (15 degrees F and windy) on my lower back, hands (under gloves), feet and under my leg warmers. Works like a charm, just don't forget to wash your hands before using the restroom... It's a mistake you will only make once. Oh yeah, for any hot type embrocation, always put it on AFTER you put on your bibs or skin suit, otherwise, the embrocation gets on your shorts and chamois and takes a free ride to your sensitive nether region. Bad news.

As far as lighter stuff, I've tried a couple types Record and Born. The stuff I used was more for mild weather to stimulate the legs. Worked fine, as far as I can tell, not really sure it made any performance difference but it was nice if it was warmer out and there was a light rain or wind. I'm not sure you can even get Born here in the states, I've looked and can't find it.
Oh yeah, to get the stuff off - wipe off as much as you can with a towel (make sure you have a dedicated embro towel, don't want to accidentally use it for your face or, gulp, somewhere further south). Usually, I'll just enjoy the remaining burn on my drive home and then I use Dawn dish soap in the shower to remove the rest. You'll definitely feel it once you get in the shower. the hot water really intensifies the heat... After the shower, a light warmth usually lingers for an hour or two and then it goes away. It's a bittersweet parting.
To bring this together with the "Hairy Legs" topic, don't forget to shave your legs. If you're using something "lotion" like then you don't necessarily need to shave but if you're using Mad Alchemy, or any other thicker oil type you'll want to shave. I can only imagine how messy it would get otherwise. I'm a big fan of the Mad Alchemy - Medium, it's plenty hot and makes your legs feel a little more alive and also helps keep mud and rain from cooling things down.
Thanks for all the input so far. Re: hairy legs. I'm not currently a shaver, but have been seriously considering it recently. I guess I'll just have to see what it is like, as I hate being cold and it seems embro can be alot more versatile than accessory clothing choices.
Yeah, I'm not really a leg shaver except during 'cross season and then it's only so I can use embrocation.

Someone else mentioned that they use embrocation on their back. About half way through every race my back is killing me, does this help?
Hamilton -

The embro on the back might help with muscle pain, although I myself have never used it specifically for that. My reason for embrocating the lower back was more to keep warm. I guess it could help keep the lower back loose too?
Yep - I use it to keep my back loose - works well.
Second that...only shave for cross embro.

I also use on the hands in snowy/near freezing temps....mmm toasty!


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