LOCKDOWN is a fading memory in our house, I’m happy to report.
It was fun at the start but I’m the only man in the house with my wife and four daughters — and I’m used to travelling a lot with work.
There were times when I genuinely thought I was going mad.
Two of the best ways to combat the lunacy were cooking and cycling.
I’ve been into cooking for years. Nothing fancy, just traditional stuff that fills my family up.
It also means I can have a glass of wine in the kitchen on my own while the girls watch Made In Towie, or whatever it is.
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Last week, Michelin invited me to join it on a triple tyre test in Spain, which ticked every single box for me. Cars. Bikes. Bicycles. And good food.
What you’re looking at are the results.
It is easy to dismiss tyres as simply the black, round bits that cost you too much money now and then.
But Michelin knows better — and so should we.
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It has been in the business for more than 130 years, perfecting the art of connecting riders and drivers with the road, all over the world.
You can, of course, buy cheaper tyres. But when you think about the role they play, it is hard to argue that a better contact patch is not worth the money.
I use cycling to keep fit — but usually on a static bike in the front room.
I kept that bit quiet while a nice man called Zippy sized me up for a road bike and told me how Girona was a mecca for cyclists in Europe.
It was so much more fun than the spin bike in my living room and worth the shame of having a picture of myself wearing full Lycra in a national newspaper.
Fast-forward 12 hours and I’m behind the wheel of a 252bhp Alpine A110.
The sun is shining and I’ve just been told the road I’m about to drive was once a tarmac stage of the World Rally Championship.
I know plenty about motorcycle tyres but not much about car tyres.
One thing I definitely knew at this moment, though, was that the Pilot Road 5 rubber on my little French sports car was about to get a pasting.
I drove like I’d accidentally left the hob on at home but the tyres and the car were amazing.
WORTH THE SHAME
I’d been offered the opportunity to cook with Michelin-starred chefs in Barcelona that evening and chose the Triumph Trident as my final mode of transport.
I know the bike really well but had yet to try the Michelin Road 6 tyre fitted to it.
Did it transform the handling of the bike? Absolutely not.
A lot of what works for me with a tyre is not so much how it is made but how confident it makes me feel.
I’ve been a fan of Michelin since the Pilot Road 3 in 2011 and that has not changed.
Within a few miles of warming up these Road 6s, I was getting stuck into unknown roads safe in the knowledge I could carry brake and lean-angle together without any fuss from the tyre.
When I needed to make up some time, I hit the motorway and got to my cooking lesson with minutes to spare.
Sergio and Javier Torres are twin brothers that run a restaurant called Cocina in Barcelona.
It has two Michelin stars, which means the food, service and whole vibe are outrageously good.
Neither brother can speak a word of English but they are celebs in Spain, with their own TV show.
With next to no conversation, they get me cooking tiny crispy pancakes we dress with pancetta, black truffle and grated almonds.
The drive in the morning was amazing, as was the ride in the afternoon.
To be in a kitchen like this, after a day like that, was living my best life.
I didn’t tell my new Spanish cooking mates I was allergic to almonds and ate like I’d never been fed.
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Some things are worth the risk and these were worth it.
Whether it’s food, pushbike tyres, driving guides for foreign countries or rubber for your commute, Michelin does it all so much better than you might realise.
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