GP 4-Season Tyres: 1500 Miles

You may recall I posted a quick first impressions review of the Continental 4-Season tyres back in November of last year. Since then I have covered around 1500 miles through the English winter and now into Spring. So how have they fared?

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Over the past months I’ve had the pleasure (?) of riding these tyres through all types of weather and varying road surfaces. There’s been the notoriously potholed and rough Surrey Hills, mud strewn single track lanes and everything that the English weather could have thrown at me (besides snow). The tyres have performed faultlessly, offering a marked increase in confidence over my summer tyres.

There is hardly a single cut to the tread or sidewall. The logos and brown cross-hatching of the Duraskin Wrap have faded somewhat (possibly a good thing) but structurally both front and rear are still in great condition. I’ve picked a few flints out of the tyres, but so far nothing has managed to penetrate the double puncture protection later. The rubber compound of the 4-Seasons seems much less prone to cuts than the GP4000S does.

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In my initial review I noted that that when pushing hard the 4-Seasons felt a fraction slower than the GP4000S tyres. I still believe this, but it’s such an insignificant difference that it is hardly worth worrying about it, especially in the winter months when your average speed is affected more by other factors.

In fact, I have been so impressed by the Conti 4-Seasons tyres that I am seriously contemplating leaving them on my road bike permanently and saving the faster tyres for my race machine. After all, they are billed as “four seasons” not just for winter! They really are that good.

Pros

  • Excellent grip levels in the cold and wet
  • Confidence inspiring handling
  • Hard wearing yet still comfortable to roll on
  • Extra puncture protection layer over GP4000S tyres
  • Bolstered sidewall damage protection

Cons

  • Possibly more expensive that the competition (buy when on special)
  • Not the best looking tyres

Sunday morning in the Surrey Hills

So after an enforced 10 days off the bike giving me plenty of time to recover from a long period of illness it was great to finally get back into the Surrey Hills. I left home early and for the first half of the ride I almost had the whole place to myself.

My route took me up three main climbs; Staple Lane, Crittern/Beech Lane and finally up Box Hill for a quick coffee stop. I like to get to Box Hill early to avoid the ever-present Sunday crowds. Saying it’s a popular place for road cyclists is a serious understatement! The National Trust Cafe does a quality double espresso plus a vast range of homemade cakes! I had a brief stop here to refuel before heading home via flatter, more rolling roads.

Surrey-19th-AprilSunday solo spin: A shade over 64 miles with 4180 feet of climbing.

I’ve lost a lot of fitness over the past two months and that was very evident towards the latter part of the ride. Up the Box Hill Zig Zag I was 45 watts down on my previous effort in February (although today’s route had more climbing beforehand).

It’s a bit disheartening knowing I should be much stronger right now after putting in a solid winter of training, but I guess it can’t be helped. There’s no doubt that it’s going to take some time and training to get back to where I was pre-illness! #keepcycling

Surrey Wheels For All

A few weekends ago Woking CC members were invited to join Surrey Wheels For All at one of their Sunday inclusive cycling afternoons. As part of our Christmas Party last year, the club raised £400 for the charity.

Surrey Wheels For All is a local charity that enables children and young adults with various ability levels the opportunity to enjoy cycling through a broad range of adapted cycles. They use the Sheerwater athletics track as their base, but also host events at other locations around the county.

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The range of adapted bicycles they had for use was incredible. Everything from tandem hand cycles to tricycles to bikes modified to carry wheelchairs. I couldn’t resist having a spin on one of the low slung hand tricycles.

It was a fantastic and eye opening afternoon of pedal powered fun. I learned a lot about the different styles of bikes they have on offer and the other services they offer to the local community. We even made the paper! I knew I’d be famous one day….

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www.cycling.org.uk/wfa-focus-surrey-wheels-all

The Lazy Cyclist’s Flapjack

Making your own “ride fuel” is not only a great way to save money, but also helps you eat healthier and cut out much of the artificial rubbish found in many sports nutrition products. I much prefer to know exactly what’s in my food.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe as an alternative to the usual syrup and butter heavy flapjacks. As a lazy chef I love this recipe as it’s fast, incredibly simple and easily modified to suit your taste. There’s a mix of fast and slow release carbs, protein and healthy fats, making it perfect for those long endurance rides!

Here’s what you need:

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
250g rolled oats
50g desiccated coconut
50g chopped nuts or mixed seeds
150g dried blueberries and cranberries

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Method:

1) Preheat your oven to 165 degrees C and line a shallow baking tin with grease-proof paper ready for later.
2) Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3) Warm the condensed milk in the microwave (not in the tin!) for about two minutes.
4) Pour the condensed milk over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
5) Spread the mixture into a shallow baking tray/tin and press down evenly.

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6) Bake for 25-30 minutes on the middle shelf, then remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing from the tin and cutting into slices.

I usually cut the flapjack into 16-20 bars then wrap them individually in baking paper before freezing the batch. That way I always have a readily available supply of flapjacks to fuel my ride without having to resort to overpriced store bought products. Enjoy!

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A few extra notes:

  • The only ingredient I actually weigh out is the oats! All the other dry ingredients I throw in whatever amounts I have until the dry mixture looks good.
  • Add any dried fruit, nuts or seeds you like. I personally love blueberries and cranberries as they are high in anti-oxidants and taste great, but sultanas or goji berries work well too.
  • A scoop or two of unflavoured whey powder can be added if you want a larger protein hit from your bars (I haven’t tried this though).

Ride with Mark Flannagan from Beating Bowel Cancer

This morning I rode with Mark Flannagan from Beating Bowel Cancer. I’ve known Mark for a while now, but don’t often get the chance to ride with him. It’s a shame as he’s an avid roadie, enthusiastic member of Woking Cycling Club and all round top bloke. Mark, Paul, Dave and myself spun out for a mid-morning social ride to the cafe.

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Mark actually got hooked on road cycling before he even owned a road bike. As part of his charity work he signed up for the Prudential Ride London 100 in 2014, but had to borrow a bike for his first club ride to begin training! It’s been a head-first dive into the world of Lycra since then.

One of the qualities I admire about Mark is his ability to keep pushing himself on the bike. No matter what, if he’s set himself a target he will achieve it. He may not be the fastest guy (and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that) but we WILL finish what he starts. Giving up is not an option. He’s out there clocking more miles no matter what the weather long after I’ve turned for home.

This year with the support of Beating Bowel Cancer, he will once again be hitting the road and pushing himself through some big events in order to raise not just money, but also awareness of bowel cancer. Two of his toughest days in the saddle will be the Prudential Ride London and the brutal 120-mile hill fest of Wales Velothon. Chapeau!

bowelcancerbeatingbowelcancer.org

Fragrance of Champions!

“Style is about details, smelling good on the podium is just as important as getting there.”
Fabian Cancellara, Pro Cyclist with Trek Factory Racing

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It may have been Trek’s April Fools Day joke, but you can see it happening. He is by far one of the most stylish men in the pro peloton, both on and off the bike. Not ashamed to admit a slight man-crush here…