Pete Smith in Massachusetts makes some concoctions he calls Mad Alchemy. These products (mostly embrocations) are pretty neat, and seem to be focused on all natural ingredients.
Earlier this year I tried some of his cold weather embrocation and was immediately hooked. Being new to embrocation, I was mesmerized by the offerings these balms provide to the legs of a cold weather cyclist. The Mad Alchemy Cold Weather Embrocation has a neat aroma owing to its ingredients which include essential oils.
I really enjoyed the whole pomp and circumstance surrounding embrocation. I would begin preparing for a ride a bit earlier so I could massage this stuff into my leg muscles and warm up my legs prior to the ride. I guess I was hooked from the start.
Not long after I started using embrocation on every ride, I noticed the other embrocations offered on the Mad Alchemy site...I also noticed that I was quickly using up my initial purchase. When I ordered some more, I decided to try some of these other products. He offers some description of the products, but it would probably be impossible to write an accurate account of what any/every person will experience (after all we are all a bit different).
Today I tried the limited edition Russisch Thee which is described as follows:
I came across this essential oils blend and it immediately reminded me of the Holidays. Pat, my mother-in-law, used to make the most amazing holiday tea
drink, Russian Tea. I love everything about the tea, but the aroma is what has really stuck with me. Cinnamon and clove undertones with a nice spiced citrus
bouquet to help wake and energize you. Russisch Thee does still burn, with a medium heat intensity and contains the same great beeswax, grapeseed and
soybean oil base as the other MAE products. I really love this stuff. Russisch Thee is the Mad Alchemy I use on race day.
As a novice when it comes to embrocation, I can not offer much of a review...but anyone using this stuff is probably going to describe the experience differently anyway. Like a fine drink or food, the experience has a lot to do with the taste of the person using it.
This stuff has the consistency of petroleum jelly (but contains none according to the label), it has the appearance of brown sugar and water (a whole lot of sugar and just enough water to make it *look* like a grainy paste), and the smell of...well about like the maker describes. While I have described the consistency and appearance, the feel seems to contradict what I have described. When you receive the bottle, it looks like hardened wax that was poured into the bottle, but it is soft...you could shove a finger to the bottom of the jar if you are not careful when you scoop some out. Once in the hand it has a grainy appearance, but a creamy feel that is not unlike a thick chamois cream...but for the love of cycling, do not apply it there!
Applying this stuff is simple. You put on as much as you like (I probably use about a teaspoon per leg). Massage it in and take note of the warming feeling you get as you do. Unlike a hand lotion, this stuff never seems to fully soak in or dry up keeping your legs slick but not oily or greasy. Some report an amber sheen to the legs when using this product, but I guess I either do not use enough, or look in the mirror enough to notice.
On the bike:
Not much to say here. Embrocation in general offers me the ability to NOT wear leg warmers or tights. This is great because I feel faster and freer with my legs exposed...I hate the binding I feel behind my knees when I have to wear leg coverings. Even on the roll I notice the aroma when the wind conditions are just right, or when I am grinding up a climb out of the saddle (and speeds are slow).
I have got to mention the smell first and foremost. This stuff smells like aromatic tea and essential oils. I give it a 9 out of 10 (perhaps some day someone will create an embrocation that smells like fresh roasted coffee, new bike tires, and wild women...that would be an odd combination, but it sounds appealing to me).
No other positive points can really be associated with this embrocation that can not similarly be claimed for the plain old Mad Alchemy Cold Weather Medium embrocation (MA Medium) as far as I will claim. It is good stuff, but so is the regular non-limited edition MA Medium (which is cool, because they cost the same!) There are numerous reviews of MA Medium elsewhere...so I will not repeat it here. If you want, here what Boz says, or you can read more on BKW...good stuff.
Perhaps no one would take me seriously if I spout a bunch of good and no bad, so here is the only let down from this product (and it is pretty slight). The website claims that this stuff is medium heat. While I am sure many would say that claim is accurate, I made the mistake of assuming that it was the same intensity as MA Medium. Perhaps it contains the same concentration of warming ingredients, but on my legs I just did not feel the warmth I get from the medium strength.
I should report though that the recommended temperature range for MA Medium is 32 to 45 degrees. I routinely use the MA Medium in the mid 20s comfortably and assumed I could do the same with Russisch Thee. My bad.
Good stuff, if you like interesting holiday smells associated with your embrocation, swipe some of this stuff up. Personally, I will reserve mine for early fall and spring rides when the temperature is above 35 degrees.
I look forward to the time when MA Madness is available (currently sold out). In the mean time I will keep using MA Medium when it is cold like this. I think I may also try out some Qoleum #3 (extra hot) embrocation for those really cold days.