LOCKDOWN is a fading memory in our home, I’m happy to report.
It was fun at first, but I’m the only man at home with my wife and four daughters – and I’m used to traveling a lot with work.
There were times when I really thought I was going crazy.
Two of the best ways to fight madness were cooking and cycling.
I have been cooking for years. Nothing fancy, just traditional stuff that fills my family.
It also means I can have a glass of wine in the kitchen while the girls watch Made In Towie, or whatever.
Last week Michelin invited me to take part in a triple tire test in Spain, which ticked all the boxes for me. Cars. Bikes. Bikes. And good food.
What you are looking at are the results.
It’s easy to think of tires as just black, round bits that cost you too much from time to time.
But Michelin knows better – and so do we.
She’s been in the business for over 130 years, perfecting the art of connecting riders and drivers to the road, everywhere.
You can, of course, buy cheaper tires. But when you think about the role they play, it’s hard to argue that a better contact patch isn’t worth the money.
I use the bike to stay in shape – but usually on a static bike in the front room.
I kept this little silence while a nice guy called Zippy assessed me for a road bike and told me that Girona was the mecca for cyclists in Europe.
It was so much more fun than the spin bike in my living room and worth having a picture of me wearing Lycra in a national newspaper.
Fast forward 12 hours and I’m driving a 252bhp Alpine A110.
The sun is shining and I have just been told that the road I am about to take was once a tarmac stage in the World Rally Championship.
I know a lot about motorcycle tires but not car tires.
One thing I did know at the time, however, was that the Pilot Road 5 rubber on my little French sports car was about to get stuck.
I drove like I accidentally left the hob on at home, but the tires and the car were amazing.
WORTH THE SHAME
I had been offered the opportunity to cook with star chefs in Barcelona that evening and chose the Triumph Trident as my last means of transport.
I know the bike very well but I had not yet tried the Michelin Road 6 tire that was mounted on it.
Has it changed the handling of the bike? Absolutely not.
A big part of what works for me with a tire is not so much the way it’s made, but the confidence it gives me.
I’ve been a Michelin fan since the Pilot Road 3 in 2011 and that hasn’t changed.
A few miles out of warming up those Road 6s, I found myself stuck on unfamiliar roads knowing I could haul the brake and lean angle together with no issues with the tire.
When I needed to catch up, I took the freeway and arrived at my cooking class with a few minutes to spare.
Sergio and Javier Torres are twin brothers who run a restaurant called Cocina in Barcelona.
It has two Michelin stars, which means the food, service and general ambience is outrageously good.
Neither brother speaks a word of English, but they are celebrities in Spain, with their own TV show.
Without almost any conversation, they make me cook tiny crispy pancakes which we season with pancetta, black truffle and grated almonds.
The morning ride was amazing, as was the afternoon ride.
To be in a kitchen like this, after a day like that, was living my best life.
I didn’t tell my new Spanish cook friends that I was allergic to almonds and ate like I had never been fed.
Some things are worth the risk and these were worth it.
Whether it’s food, stroller tires, driving guides for foreign countries, or rubber for your commute, Michelin does it all better than you think.