Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2011/11/11 Tour des Frites

Brief Ride Report
I think a max of 45 of us went on Le Tour des Frites. A night with drizzle, mizzle and some downpours later on – the latter I seemed to miss being in one pub or another.
Chippies seemed to be closer than I remember so more time was spent eating and drinking than cycling = still we don’t make a habit of it
Nice support from the chippies, some decent chips, really tasty falafel wraps from Falafel King and two pleasant boozers.
I found it to be a lovely congenial atmosphere
I spent nearly £85 on chips and falafel wraps and collected just under £95.
The Friday was Armistice Day. On Saturday I bought a
poppy for a tenner from a guy who I chatted to.
Now in his late 70s he is a Sheffielder who was conscripted in the early 50s and did his national service in The Duke of Wellingtons’s Regiment on active duty in Korea
(must have thought he was right unlucky): a nasty ‘little’ war over a land still divided in two by a heavily fortified border, a DMZ and continuing ‘peace’ talks.
Fuller ride report later.

Report on a recce ride for Le Tour des Frites
30 September 2011
Start 6.30 at Joe’s Chippy on Ecclesall Rd

Six of us met at Joe’s Chippy and it was shut, not just closed but closed down. Oh well we will have to think of an alternative – which we have, more later. It was a warm evening, town and gown were both out filling up the bars and pub gardens, the mood was excellent. This route is a steady climb with some flattish intervals until you get to Crosspool, so we headed up through Broomhall and onto Glossop Rd. At Newbould Lane we crossed over into no-through Melbourne Rd and then up through the sites of Birkdale School to Fulwood Rd. We pelted along there until we got to the Ranmoor Inn and Mick scouted out the Ranmoor Friery.

A quick phone call back to the waiting squad, and “A large portion of chips open please” and by the time the salt and vinegar had been sprinkled all had gathered to sample a very good chip, crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Had a lovely chat with the owner who reckoned she would have to have the best chips in Sheffield as she had such a demanding and discerning clientele. So are chips for posh people better? You decide!

Away round the Ranmoor Inn with its clientele packed and barred in at the outside tables, and then straining up through Ranmoor until we hit Watt Lane and and pedalled relaxedly into Crosspool. Cool teenage girls pointed out the chippy and it was packed, no alternative but to queue and cope with a Byzantine ordering system – tell somebody who writes it down and then somebody else wants to know, “What does that say?”, and then “What was it again?” 20 minutes later we had a new stash, large portion again, salt and vinegar and again they were good. Back into the shop, explain to the servers and owner what we were up to and smiles all round – given the phone number and told to call up and they would have the chips ready. Customers thought it sounded good fun; but couldn’t get any to join in.

And that was the high point – literally – the rest was downhill. Thrilling plummet down Lydgate Lane to Crookes and Broomheads by the Old Grindstone and woe! disappointing, we got there at 8 just as they were closing. So we chatted with them and explained what we were up to and the owner thought it was a nice idea so on the night they will get our chips ready and if needs be stay open a bit later for us – so we should aim to be there by 5 to 8. Couldn’t try the chips so will have to go on spec.

Jerry suggested adding the Admiral on Crookes into the mix so we cycled along Crookes, pulled in and tried the chips there. Nice chips, much creamier inside; Maris Piper they said and, again chatted with the staff about what were up to and they called out the manager. He loved the idea and printed their phone number off for us for the night of the ride. We met others and talked about what we were up to and included some cyclists who were intrigued as to what we were up so cards were handed out and maybe some more nightriders will be made.

A brisk ride down School Lane into Commonside and a stop at The Hallamshire House. Blinking bikes locked up together leaned against the pub as we stood outside in the warmth of the evening and the yellow glow of street and pub lights. We chatted, enjoyed our drinks and rinsed the salt and vinegar off our lips, and we thought this would make a good pub stop on the night. We had a warm exchange with a guy in his eighties about chippys. Really pleasant staff; the manager’s up for it.

And then we saddled up and freewheeled the small drop down Commonside to New Cod on the Block. When explaining what we were up to a customer said these were the best chips in town and we had to say that we had other contenders but you decide! The staff (and the owners) were great and we exchanged names and numbers. I thought the chips were very similar to the ones at the Admiral and when we checked they were Maris Pipers. Other cyclists were confused by a squad of cyclists mooching around and we chatted with them too, handing out cards. One insisted on telling us how shit Sheffield was so we challenged him to explain why he stayed; if you can’t make the best of it, why hang around? His response? He was from Rotherham and here was better! Maybe a SFNR would lift his spirits.

A final ride down along Barber Rd and Crookesmoor Rd, through the University and to The Falafel King on Glossop Rd. I know they’re not chips but they are fried and for some of us this was their first go at falafel. (There are at least four places selling falafel-to-go now in Sheffield and this could be a future ‘food’ ride). It was busy as the new intake of students were crowding the place finding out what A-levels they had got but we got served after some random orders went out; the guy cut the wraps in half for our sampling (delicious!) and he is up for it too. It was after 9 by then and we went in the West End. Jerry knew the manager and he is willing to let us bring falafel back to the pub providing we drink there and names and phone numbers were exchanged.

So we sat outside and chatted about all sorts and then Greg remembered that when we did the Libraries and Bookshops ride we used the chippy by Books on the Park. Went past it on Saturday; it’s Jimmy’s Plaice and Le Tour des Frites ride will start there. We thought on the night (if we get the same numbers as last year) that The West End and Falafel King may be the end of the ride and leave out the last bit to the Greystones Fish Bar; we shall see.

A good night

Le Tour des Frites
will be on
Friday November 11 2011
Start 6.30 Sharp! Jimmy’s Plaice
First chips available from 6
Corner of Ecclesall Rd and Rustlings Rd

Heads up!: all on roads

Map (follow the red route):

View SheffieldFNR Chip Shops and Tour des Frites( in a larger map

Tour des Frites badge

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, finger open the warm soft 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 2010 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