Embrocate With Caution

Written by: Taylor (Ritte Racing)

It may be Southern California from where I sit, but February still brings the shit weather. Traditionally the first race of our calendar is called Boulevard, which we’ll be taking part in again today. It will be raining, and it takes place between 4,000 and 5,000 feet in elevation, so it’ll be just above freezing. We do 3-4 laps on a 22 mile course, riding through snow at the top, and descending through rain for the rest. We adopt all kinds of strategies to prepare for this. I personally, have taped the vent holes of my helmet. I will also use a little embrocation.

What follows is our boy Taylor’s unfortunate adventure into that world:

It’s that time of year again. Slather up the Embrocation cream, let those nose hairs tingle with that extra special smell and let you heart skip a few beats as it pulses a bit more blood to your legs. But, o be careful when the ride is done and you hit the showers. I enjoy a good embrocation. Just as much as every other Belgian Cyclist. Am I right, or am I Ritte? But, sadly enough I had a run in with some American stuff recently that left me screaming, yes screaming as I tried to take it off. I share my experience in hopes that no one will suffer the anguish and frustration that I went through. My wonderfully blended Elite Thermogel was no where to be found and I came across an American Product called “Leg Salsa”. “Leg Salsa” seemed like it would work well enough for me. It went on fine, although I did need to rub it in a bit more to make sure I didn’t look like I just used a fake tanning cream. During the ride in cold and rain it seemed to do the trick. Maybe that was due to the almost vaseline like consistency. So far I was well pleased. No Serious complaints. After my cold and rain soaked ride I stripped off the soggy gloves, pulled off the wet clothes and made my way to the shower. Now, as I have used Embrocation before I knew the taking off process could go either way. I decided I would draw some cool water in a bath and try to clean my legs off before I took that nice hot shower I had been dreaming about since I clipped in. Shivering body standing in ankle deep cool bath water is not the ideal post ride remedy. But I needed to take off the “Leg Salsa”. I started using my hands and bar soap and I immediately knew why it was called “Leg Salsa”. I tried scrubbing harder in hopes of getting more off, but I think I just opened up layers of skin and ground in more “Leg Salsa”. I looked down at my bright red legs and noticed my tan line disappearing. Holy CRAP! How the heck am I supposed to take this stuff off? Cool water and soap just did the opposite of what I wanted! By this time I am freezing cold, having never warmed up during or after my ride, and my legs are burning up like a Chile on the Sun! I’m shivering and my legs are “El Fuego”. So, I do the only thing that made sense at the time. TURN ON A HOT SHOWER. Worst and Best choice of my life. Yes, I was no longer cold and it felt great on my head and body, but I pray that no one will ever go through what I experienced on my legs. How do you describe HEAT in such away that Fire Eaters would cry. That is what I went through. I prayed aloud to my maker that if this was payback to some past sins, I was sorry. DEEPLY SORRY. I just thought of everything bad I had ever done and now I was being cursed with a taste of Hell that was only on my Legs. I took moments of standing out of the water and trying to recover to leaning forward so as to get my upper body warm but not my lower body. Nothing changed, in fact it got worse! YES, WORSE! The hot damp air of the shower seemed to open my pores up and as I tried every product in the shower I could feel my legs just getting HOTTER! Irish Spring bar soap? Dove Shampoo? Tresmee Conditioner? NOTHING HELPED! I took a glance at my face soap, it read “Micro-Beads for Exfoliating Skin”. It might have read “FIRE in a TUBE”, Exfoliation? That’s the last thing I want to do. By this time I was getting upset. What kind of product are these people putting out there. No warning! No “By the way prepare to have your legs burned off”. Was I mistaken? Was there some label I misread? I turned off the water grabbed a towel and found the little jar of “Leg Salsa”. I read the label: “Do Not put near Mucus Membrances”, translation: “No eyes, mouth, nose, or…. Ladies beware…” Gotcha! Next line; “Do not place near Genitals” ;….. I’ve made some bad decisions in my life….but TRUST ME…that was never a thought in my mind. And that was it! I went on their website, with my legs still throbbing but definalty manageable. Their homepage had a picture of a Saturn rider. Umm, didn’t Saturn stop sponsoring a team like 5 years ago? I looked for anything about taking off their product, and NOTHING AGAIN! No warning or suggestions. What the heck? So I emailed them. “Leg Salsa, how do I take your product off without removing my legs?”

That same day they replied: “The best thing we have found is ivory dish soap, cold water keeps the pores from opening also. We are still working on an after ride soap that will neutralize the Leg Salsa. You may also try using less product in the initial application.”

Fantastic! Ivory Dish Soap! Why didn’t I think of that? I always keep some handy in my bathroom! O Great! You are “working” on an after ride soap, super! How long have you been working on that? Your homepage has a picture of a team not even in existence any more and your trying to come up with “Chemical X” that will hopefully “neutralize” your product while still able to keep all layers of skin on my legs. Great….let me know how that comes along! And helpful hint there to finish it off, “Using Less Product”. Yeah, I think I understood that concept of “less on equals less taking off” when I was like 5.

Thanks but no thanks. When it comes to Embrocation, stick with the European brands! And just in case carry some Ivory Dish Soap with you.


(It’s worth noting that some riders really love Leg Salsa. I guess some of the hotter embrocations can really only be used by guys with really tough skin.)