Put Something In The Box
Chamois cream. For me it’s the first ingredient in the ritual of ride preparation. First thing I do I slab some of that sweet goop on mah area before pulling my bibs on. Granted there are a few of you out there who don’t use it, be it on purpose or lack of knowledge. Those who choose not to, I’m sure your significant other thoroughly enjoys your leather-like pads during sexytime. I, on the other hand absolutely need to use the cream otherwise I cultivate an impressive crop of saddle sores, especially during the summer. Here in the Mid-Atlantic the humidity is KILLER during the summer and it takes some serious ass-brocation to fend off the bacterial rave that forms downstairs after 4 hours in the saddle.
I’ve tried numerous brands with varying degrees of success. My goto favorite for the past 10 years has been Assos. For the most part it’s done its job well. When I couldn’t afford Assos, I’d purchase the Agu Sport Relief cream from Excel. Yet when I saw that Rapha was offering their own line of skin care products including a chamois cream, I couldn’t help myself but to try them.
Being a sucker for aesthetics, the recently released line of Rapha skin care poducts had me salivating. When it arrived all I could do is stare at the packaging. While there are many that couldn’t care less about how something looks, as a designer/artist I’m captivated by well-executed product packaging. As always, Rapha’s distinct black and Giro pink adorned the small box, as well as their signature script logo and Trade Gothic product description. Like I said, I’m captivated.
So just like the Mac fanboy that I am, I began the unboxing. The lid is sealed with a bit of tape containing a description of Mont Ventoux, the location of the flora that inspired the product’s scent. I desperately was avoiding breaking the seal, but I finally came to my senses and cracked it open. Inside I was greeted to yet another aesthetic indulgence. The shiny black lid was embossed with the same Ventoux logo on the sealing tape. The canister containing the cream was undoubtedly carefully selected for its distinctive attributes which of course worked to perfection.
In addition to aesthetics, what added to my salivary gusher was that the list of “aromatic plants and herbs” they used in creating the cream. My wife and I are in the process of shedding all products containing unnecessary chemicals and or preservatives. Skin care products have been one of our main focuses. Anything with parabens I can’t emphasize this enough, Rapha’s Chamois Cream smells FANTASTIC!have been ditched for cleaner more natural and hopefully organic products. What’s great about Rapha’s Chamois Cream is that it contains no parabens, and its core ingredients are all naturally occurring plants and herbs from the Géant De Provence: Mont Ventoux. This compared to my other cream favorite, Assos which contains nearly every paraben type available, including a host of other man-made chemicals. Not saying that Assos is bad for your skin. Nor am I saying that Rapha’s doesn’t have its own list of big-worded chemical inclusions, it’s just that I personally am looking for something with more natural ingredients as its impetus.
Twisting off the cap I’m greeted with a blast of French mountains. I can’t emphasize this enough, Rapha’s Chamois Cream smells FANTASTIC! The combined scents of Lavender, Rosemary, Atlas Cedar, Pine, and a host of others create a powerful effect that aligns itself perfectly with my expectations. The fragrance wakes the senses, signaling the start of your impending 2-wheeled effort.
To the touch, it’s lighter than I expected. I’m used to either the Assos or Agu Sport (Excel) brands that are slightly more dense. At first this was a concern, but upon initial application my fears were assuaged. It doesn’t disappear. Even better, it doesn’t remind you that you just finger-painted the inside of your crotch with something resembling the consistency of cookie dough. I don’t apply as much as others, or, I apply the least amount I can get away with. Chamois cream is expensive in general, so I try to be frugal. Some will need more, some less. The amount you apply is up to you and your largest organ.
As for the ride quality, it’s unnoticeable and that’s perfect. There are times when Assos reminds me that I’m wearing it. Rapha’s just does its job without fanfare. So far I’ve been riding it during the off-season, so the temps have been 60˚ and below. While that doesn’t produce a mid-summer type micro-climate downstairs, I do challenge it more than you think. I wear Craft’s superb windblocking codpiece underneath my bibs, so my tender areas are touching ribbed technical fibers rather than the usual chamois. With most, and including Assos, I am destined at least one or two flareups. Amazing then that from the first few rides with Rapha’s cream the flareups have been quelled. It’s actually healed my sun-shy skin rather than maintain the status quo. If that’s not a reason to use it, I don’t know what is.
Rapha Chamois Cream has an incredibly high* pro factor. From the packaging, to the ingredients, and finally its performance, this product is worthy of any rouleur’s backside.
Granted, from the viewpoint of your wallet many others provide more bang for your buck if you’re looking solely at money vs. volume. Yet if you’re looking to accentuate your ride rituals, Rapha’s entry can do nothing but enrich it.
*Eventually I’ll have a ratings system, but that time is not now.