Last week, I went on a solo weeknight bike adventure for fish and chips on the coast. It was an absolute DREAM, until it wasn’t.
Honestly, this should probably go on my list of dumb shit I’ve done, BUT also maybe right up there with my list of creative “making do” and pushing through.
Post work on this past Tuesday evening, I cycled out to Runswick Bay to get a take-away fish and chips dinner by the sea. Sounds idyllic, right? It WAS. A 7-mile bike ride to the chippy – Hinderwell Fish and Chip Shop – generally on smaller farm roads with some mild up and downs but nothing too extreme, then picking up food and a quick 5-minute ride to a perfect bench overlooking the bay.
The Bike Route
Right at the start of the ride, there’s this killer hill. It gains 282 feet in 0.4 miles averaging an 11.3% incline then goes straight into another 0.4 miles with a 7.5% incline (thank you Strava). After that initial climb though, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
There’s a small stint on an A road (a two-way main road) and this one river crossing where the road dives down into a valley, takes a sharp turn at the bottom then powers right back up the hill on the other side. Basically, that meant I had to start the uphill bit from scratch after slowing down to make the turn. It was evil. But I was pedaling for fish and chips, everything was fine.
Tip: I used my AfterShoks Air bluetooth headphones connected to my phone so Google Maps gave me all the directions in realtime and I could still hear everything going on around me.
Things Get Fishy
So I get to the chippy in my lycra, my funny cycling shoes, and my sweaty helmet hair. Yes, I did get a few curious looks. I get in the queue (line) to order and the woman at the till calls out, “If you’ve not pre-ordered, we can’t take any new orders until quarter to 7.” It’s 6:20.
She looks at me and asks if I’d preordered. I say no. She says I can order now and pick up at quarter to seven if I want.
So I order my fish and chips and it turned out they’d just made an extra I could have now.
“Salt and vinegar?” She asks.
I came up to the till at the door to pay and I was beaming. I paid for that lovely wrapped parcel of goodness and headed out.
I found a little bench overlooking the beach and was in pure bliss munching on my fish and chips and reveling in my successful outing.
Shining Light on the Situation
Okay, so here’s where my stupid move starts to show: I’m finishing up my last chips in the glow of sunset feeling fat and happy and I realize I didn’t bring a front bike light. I had a back light so cars behind me could see me. Plus, most of the roads I’d be on didn’t have many cars, so I figured as long as it stayed light enough for me to see, it’d be fine.
That worked well for a while. Then it got darker and I was struggling to see bumps in the road. My solution? Turns out the iPhone flashlight is bright enough to see enough pavement in front of you while riding and will stay put tucked into a sports bra. I probably looked ridiculous with a bright light shining out from my chest, but it worked.
Tip: Bring a portable charger with you if it’s cold out. My phone dies almost instantly out in the cold and a portable charger was the only reason it was still alive to be my light.
I miraculously made the river crossing turn (though the bike definitely skidded and threatened to slide out from under me) and used the hell out of my brakes on the steep downhill at the end, but I made it back.
Just before turning into the drive for my cottage, I rode past my neighbor, Steve. When I got off the bike and he realized who I was, he said, “you were speeding up there, must have been 30 miles an hour!”
In reality, I’d probably looked like a scared cat death-gripping my handlebars (and breaks) and maybe getting to 5 mph. “What? Really? No…” I said.
“Oh yeah, a hundred miles an hour at least!” He said. He grinned and headed back towards his house in the dark.
Friends, Steve is the neighbor everyone wants.
What front bike light do you use? Recommend some in the comments!