With the sound of cow bells in the air, it must be cross time. Ah yes, the rustle of leaves, the heckling of fans and, of course, the smell of embrocation. After a cooler than normal spring and a shorter than usual summer, the inventory of liniments has dropped below an acceptable level. Rather than heading out and restocking the same brands, the decision was made to branch out and try a few of the newer players in the game.
From the land of maple syrup, higher education, and the vintage Volvo 240 wagon comes Mad Alchemy, a do-it-yourself, "Yankee mentality" product, by cyclists, for cyclists. The buzz surrounding this new player began as early as mid-summer with talk abound about its effectiveness.
Mad Alchemy offers three heat levels: Mellow, Medium, and Madness. The Medium blend is the logical choice given the fall season. So I ordered a jar. After tearing into a small cardboard box, I was greeted by a brown, recyclable glass container with a simple screw-on black lid. This homemade look is akin to the Mason for gardeners and confirms there is no utilization of a mile-long, billion dollar automation system to fill your order. This stuff is produced by-hand, with love.
Break the top loose and the aromatic euphoria that follows is not one of a medicinal quality, but rather closer to the smell of a fancy candle. The consistency also differs from the usual rub, as it's more like a tin of shoe polish than the typical squeeze bottle common with Sportsbalm, or the creamy, Noxema feel of Quoelum.
Ease of application is critical for me when my dressing room is the parking lot of the local race, so I want to be sure it goes on cleanly and without fuss. The consistency of the Mad Alchemy delivers. Application is easy, and the final clean-up is effortless; eliminating the accidental blindness resulting from an eye rub on the second lap of your race.
Overall Heat Rating - Medium as promised. A subtle warmth like a 30-year-old scotch.
Euro Style Rating - Wicked high. The light tint added would convert George Hamilton to cycling. The thicker you go, the more the PRO.
Smell - Fragrant, but in a good way. This is a new direction for embrocation.
Durability - High, but not unreasonable. A towel will remove enough to make your drive home less painful than your cross race.
Mad Alchemy Medium delivers the perfect amount of warmth for temps ranging from 50-60º and it ramps the heat up slowly after application. The heat is neither painful, nor offensive during the exposure times, but like all good embros, when the pace slows or stops, the Mad Alchemy stays on. The beeswax additive ensures it stays on even in wet conditions and collects less grit and road souvenirs than other, more liquid based embros. Keep in mind, if you rock it VDB style and go heavy on the layers, you may get the PRO sheen , but your also going to get the fly paper effect.
The cross calendar carries us into some unpredictable and cold months. So, as temps continue to sink, the Madness seems like the next logical step. Stay tuned for additional reviews of Mad Alchemy products.