Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2010/11/17 Chip Shop Ride (Tour de Frites)

Ride Report Chip Shop Ride or Tour de Frites Fri 19 November 2010
Do you like chips and cycling?

Well, 55 (!) of us did last night; read on …

So much for the weather forecast – the sun never got strong enough during the day to burn off the mist which by 6 had become a fog. Bright watery beads swirled about in the beams of the bike lights, clouded up bike goggles/specs and diffracted the light from the street lamps into hazy yellow coronas. It was not the promised clear, sharp, cold and autumn evening, bright with a fullish moon, but an evening in which a warm autumnal closeness and gloomy shadow enveloped us so that we became our own bubble of lights and sounds, with no view or sound of the city as we ascended up and down the heights of Manor Park, Arbourthorne and Heeley.

Chips from Two Steps and Green Steps were ready at 6 outside the Lescar and riders gathered rapidly to banter with new and familiar members of the gang, taste the chips and – for the first time – collect a ride badge (also given to all the fryers that night – thanks to Graeme for the art-work). By 6.15 I stopped counting at 45 riders and at 6.30 sharp we set off for London Rd. Ringing bells as we passed Two Steps, we climbed up Sharrow Vale Rd to turn left down Frog Walk in a gigantic white and red lantern parade to emerge onto Stalker Lees Rd. Then right along the road and right onto the path along the Porter to the back of the old Bow Works (now Aviva offices) and out onto Napier St which we followed to Waitrose and then down to and right onto London Rd and the 100 yds up to A Salt N Battered where, by the use of the marvels of modern telephony, our next batch of chips were freshly fried and ready. Eight large bags (open) of golden crunchy fingers of potato, salted and vinegared, were passed around and the head count had gone up to 54. The crowd of riders filled up the pavement from Hill St up past the chippy and must have astonished drivers, bus passengers and onlookers in general.

People out and about were taken by surprise as what they thought was a handful of cyclists approached and then the rest of the peloton emerged from the obscuring fog several “WTFs” were heard as a parade of all-sorts of bikes with blazing lights, ridden by men and women of all ages, dressed in all kinds of ways filled up the road and their field of view. Bystanders were being treated to an event, a happening, an experience, a carnival of cycling, something that they will talk about to their friends and families – and if they are lucky they may be believed(!).

So licking the salt from our lips and wiping the grease from our fingers and making sure that all the wrappers were binned we set off up London Rd to turn immediately left onto John St which we followed down across Bramall Lane to Shoreham St where we parked up in front (and either side – this was a friggin’ big ride) of ManFriday. 10 polystyrene trays of freshly fried chips were salted, vinegared and distributed. The head count was verified and the chippy gave us the chips if we made a donation to charity – massive cheer from us all. Judith had been collecting donations to the cost of chips and badges all night passed the ‘bag’ round again and negotiated that it went to Children in Need.

With a wave of thanks and ringing of our bells we eventually set off for Wheatleys on Manor Lane. The massive peloton took over Shoreham St and then Charlotte Rd. As we left the bright lights of the inner city the fog enclosed around us – which made it all our own world in some places. We snaked up the dark and dimly lit paths of Norfolk Park like a string of dancing red and white fairy lights and condensed back into a dense, intensely bright galaxy at the top of the Park as we all caught our breath. Back under street lights on St Aidens’ Rd where Mick had one more opportunity (and it won’t be the last), to point out St Aiden’s Church Hall where nigh on 50 yrs ago Peter Stringfellow put on The Black Cat Club; his first night club. Crossing City Rd we pulled up the first 50 yds of Manor Lane to park on the corner by Wheatleys where the next batch of chips were waiting in the hot cabinet and were freshly dispensed for the (ever-decreasingly) hungry horde. Relaxed after the effort of the climb, the sharing of chips was like a sacrament that made the conversations and chats a collective communion for all the nightriders – who had now gone up to 55 in total, not by a miracle, but because the last rider late from work had the good sense to work out roughly where we would be.

So feeling increasingly mellow we headed off for Heeley, back past the top of Norfolk Park and out onto Park Grange Rd where unfortunately two people came off their bikes on the short section of tramtracks we had to traverse. (I don’t know about a campaign to get bikes on trams; how about a campaign to stop bikes going under trams?) Shaken but not bowed they, accompanied by all the rest of us, continued for the plummet down onto East Bank Rd and the short rise over to Derby St and Derbyshire Terrace before we all swooped down to Heeley Green Chippy where six enormous bags of chips (wrapped and sprinkled with salt and steaming with vinegar) were awaiting already. And so the last scoff for us all and what a good atmosphere amongst us all it was. Warm, friendly, content: like a mellow high for me. Don’t know about you?

It WAS a GOOD night out which all who came made a spectacular event

Excellent chips along the way, fantastic hospitality and good humour from the chippies (I’ll get back to thank them next week and I’ll make some 5 star Recommended by Sheffield FridayNightRide posters for their shops). Opinions about which chips were the best varied but we all agreed to differ and I don’t think there was a duff batch

And thanks for all the cash contributions (brilliantly collected by Judith) to cost of the badges (thanks to Graeme for the artwork) and the cost of the chips(We collected approx. £85 from which I made a donation of £55 (£1 each) to Children in Need on the Saturday, the rest went towards the chips we had to pay for).


Sheffield FridayNightRide
Chip Shops I
Friday 19 November 2010
Start 6.30 p.m. at The Lescar, Sharrow Vale Rd, S10

Having read this then click on reply and send if you (and any mates not on the list) are coming on this ride.
I want to get the phone orders for chips right so tell me how many of you that you estimate will be there.
Start and timing Timing on this ride is important otherwise we miss a chippy. [We know this will take time because on a recce we could only do 6 chippies with 14 riders by 9 p.m. – still it was a right laugh. The map has had over 10, 000 hits so we are expecting a ‘few’ riders to turn up. I am hoping it is a mega-event – a celebration of chips]. We meet outside the Lescar where chips from Two Steps and Green Steps will be available from about 6.00. We set off at 6.30 for A Salt N Battered on London Rd – we must do this as she shuts at 7 – sharp. Then we can relax and take our time with the rest. No need to get your tea before you start and we have arranged chips to be ready when we get to each chippy – we will phone ahead.

1. Start at The Lescar with chips from Green Steps, Hickmott Rd,) and Two Steps Sharrow Vale Rd
2. Sharrow Vale Rd to London Rd: A Salt N Battered (by 7)
3. London Rd to Shoreham St: Man Friday
4. Shoreham St to Manor Lane via Norfolk Park: Wheatley’s
5. Manor Lane to Heeley Green via Arbourthorne: Heeley Green Chippy (by 9.30 when it closes)

Only just over 6 miles but we are going to have a lot of riders

Map at

Heads Up! Some riding on paths but the rest on roads – should suit any bike

Refreshments and things to bring. Chips will be bought with no salt or vinegar so bring your own condiments, mayo, brown sauce, red sauce, Hendos, etc. Time to get the Tupperware out. Bring a drink or get some pop in the chippies as there is no pub stop until the end

Background : Whilst on a Sheffield FNR and chatting about future ride themes way back in March 2010, the theme of chip shops popped up. Oh yes! We’ll have some of that. There are rides to cafes, rides to pubs, rides to historical sites, rides to beauty spots, rides to pieces of art, rides over bridges. Chip shops to me have as much cultural weight as any of them so that’s how it got going.

Picture ‘your’ chippy on an autumn Friday night with its: yellow, mellow, electric glow; steamed-up, lettered windows; salivating smells; white, flaky, moist fish coated in golden crunchy batter strewn on the hot shelf next to the lined-up fishcakes, roe, rissoles and battered sausages; steamy stainless steel tubs of green mushy peas and amber curry sauce and clear glass jars of fat, juicy pickled onions; rows of pop in day-glo colours alongside shiny cans of fizz and black bottles of Hendos; queues of folks squashed together who nod to strangers, greet friends and neighbours, chat with the fryers as another bucket of raw, white, chipped potatoes is poured into the hot oil to sizzle and spit as they alchemically change into golden chips that are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and to die for as you watch them being scooped into a heap on the wrapping paper and the salt and vinegar being shaken over them, and then you get them where you’re going to eat them, open up the wrapping and, oh! your nose sniffs the flavours, your mouth explodes with pleasure as you bite into the firm but yielding chips and taste the potato, the oil, the salt, the vinegar and the hot, moist chips warm your body and soul and you feel like you’ve been to heaven.

I think I’ll go and have a lie down now.

And for all you nostalgia buffs songs about chips
Chips Glorious Chips – I’ll bring the songsheets?
We hope its chips – see actors before they were famous

National notice we’ve made it into the CTC newsletter – see

Facts about chips
Aaah! serendipidity … Driving back from Manchester on Sunday 22 June I heard the Food Programme on R4 all about Chips

• The perfect chip is crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside
• McCain get through 11,000 tonnes of sunflower oil and use 13% of the potatoes in the UK to make their chips p.a.
• Belgians clean their windows with vinegar and put mayonnaise on their chips but we do not do vice versa (I love chips with mayo and will bring a bottle of mayo with me for the ride)
• Chips are best from September to the spring when the potato crop is freshest
• Experts reckon chips cooked in beef dripping are best.
• Belgians claim to have invented chips but it was the French speakers who made them so they became French fries
• The first reference to fish and chips in the UK is apparently in Oliver Twist.
• Fish was fried in batter so that the batter could protect the fish as it was hawked on the streets – originally the batter was thrown away (fools!)
• Batter manufacturers make different batters for different parts of the UK
• Somebody makes or somewhere they even eat battered chips

so if you want to know all about chips and bluff your way through the tastings on the ride then …
the programme was on iPlayer catch it there if it’s still on