Raspberry Pi x Lego – Home server

Why Lego?

In grade 1, my homeroom teacher happened to be the school’s primary computer teacher. The entire computer lab was Mac based, PowerPC’s everywhere. Then there was this special computer, a computer that had a Lego case (and ran Windows). He would passionately tell us how he built it and showed us how everything worked inside. Yeah, nobody had a single clue what he was talking about because you know, we were in grade 1. But hey it’s a computer with a Lego case, how cool! Ever since then I wanted one myself. As far as I remember, this marked the day I became a computer nerd 😛

Why a home server?

It is now common for one user to have multiple devices and we expect our data to be present on all of them. A common solution is to just make a copy for each device. For example, music. Want music on your tablet? Make a copy. Want music on your phone? Make a copy. Every single time I make a change to my song library, I have to manually copy it over to each device. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your media just stored in one place and point all your devices to just “get it” from that location? This is where the home server comes in.

The computer

Raspberry Pi Model B

This is our “computer”. The famous “computer for 35 bucks”, the first generation Raspberry Pi. I bought it three years ago for experimenting around the GPIO pins in hopes of automating my room one day. That never happened as I lived in dorms so renovating my room is out of the question. I moved out since and rented a place. However, it clearly says in my contract no modifications of any kind shall be made to the room. Oh well 😛

Performance wise we are looking at something equivalent to an average computer in 1998-ish.

Haven’t touched this thing for three years, hopefully the humidity in Hong Kong hasn’t killed it.

It’s alive!

Testing if it is still working, excuse the poor presentation. Flashed the latest Raspbian OS “Jessie” on to the SD card and plugged it into a router. All the lights indicate its ok!

Setting it up server side

SSH enabled right out of the box!

Yeah, I am a Windows user… so we don’t have native SSH. PuTTY to the rescue!

Let’s configure our Raspberry Pi for server use with “sudo raspi-config”

We will be running the server “headless” (without a screen) so we can reduce the memory allocated to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to the minimum.

The Raspberry Pi has 256MB of RAM, this will give us 16MB for the GPU and 240MB for the system itself.

We will be using the USB drive as our storage, let’s have it automatically mount on boot.

Install and configure UFW (Uncomplicated FireWall) for Samba file sharing.

Allow TCP 135,139,445 and UDP 138,139 from all the devices that you plan to share with.

Install, add Samba users and configure our Samba shares to point to our USB drive

Reboot the server! PuTTY calmly reminds us that the server has disconnected us

Accessing the shares in Windows is as easy as Pi

Click “Map network drive”

Enter you server details: \\<server_hostname>\<your _samba_folder>
Select a drive letter
Check reconnect at sign-in

All done! It’s just like an external drive!

Now that the functionality is there, let’s work on the case

Procuring the Legos

We will need a plan of course. Our official unit of measurement here is “Lego bumps”

Lego, you are truly evil, charging people by the bucket, a round bucket.

Talk about fitting a square peg in a round hole

The build

Remember to pad the bottom of the Raspberry Pi with some foam. Rubbing the bottom of a bare printed circuit board with Lego bumps isn’t exactly great.

Other than that, just build around the ports and build up from there!


Heat dissipation is inspired by Microsoft Surface Pro’s “Perimeter Venting”

I’ve decided to go with a similar design for the roof. This keeps most of the dust on the roof while allowing hot air to flow out from the top

Completed form. IKEA cup and Galaxy S4 for size reference.

Installing it with the rest of my network equipment


Completely scientific performance benchmark: You can stream six Girl’s Generation music videos in full high definition 1080P at the same time.

Alright, in all seriousness, here are the numbers:

Sequential reading from server: 33Mbps or ~4 megabytes per second

Sequential writing to the server: 25Mbps or ~3 megabytes per second

I’ve decided to only measure sequential performance because this is a media server, so most of the time, this is responsible for serving up big chunky files.

Performance analysis

The Surface Ethernet Adapter is rated at 100Mbps
The Raspberry Pi Ethernet Adapter is rated at 100Mbps
The Netgear router connecting the two is rated at 100Mbps

So why are we getting 33Mbps read, 25Mbps write? Clearly there is a bottleneck somewhere… let’s look at how the Raspberry Pi is doing

Woah 100% CPU usage, well at least we know our poor Raspberry Pi is trying its best. Clearly we are bounded by the processor, not surprising considering it has the processing power roughly equivalent to a computer in 1998. Let’s look at the breakdown.

Samba (our file share) is only using around 15% not too bad.

The NTFS-3G driver is the culprit here, using 65% of our puny processor. Accessing drives that are formatted as NTFS has always been a bit meh and inefficient on anything other than Windows. Technically I should already be glad that in Linux I can at least read and write to it. I am talking about you Mac OSX (older versions can only read from NTFS).

Seeing how NTFS is the problem, I decided to reformat the drives into something a little more Linux friendly, like ext4.

Result? 8MB/sec read and write or ~64Mbps. We are still processor bound as Samba is now able to “share faster” so its processor usage went up as processor usage for accessing the USB drive filesystem drops.

I could consider overclocking; however, this is a server and it will be running 24/7 so I want to maximize stability and reliability. Therefore overclocking is disregarded.


Didn’t you just say you will disregard that as an option? Yeah, but in the name of science and curiosity let’s briefly this option a little bit 😛

Before someone yells at me for using presets. Yes, I’ve also tried manually tweaking the parameters individually by editing the /boot/config.txt. After all my overclocking experience comes from the PC world 😉 This screenshot is strictly here for your visual pleasure.

900Mhz is as high as I can go without significant issues…

… and by without significant issues I mean:

It boots

The processor is running at 75C (it is rated for 85C so 7x is a “little” uncomfortably high)

The USB/Ethernet chip is now not finger friendly (it is rated for 70C and not finger friendly means 50C+)

Yeah, let’s just put it back into normal mode at 700Mhz

For what it’s worth, this 30% overclock gives us a 20% performance boost all across the board. So if your application requires such performance, I recommend getting some RAM heatsinks for the processor and controller.


For anyone interested in doing the same thing, there’s good news. This is the first generation Raspberry Pi, bought three years ago. The Raspberry Pi has moved on since then and the current one is the Raspberry Pi 3. It is still priced the same, so it’s still “a computer for 35 bucks”. For the processor, mine has a single-core clocked at 700Mhz, the current one is a quad-core clocked at 1.2Ghz. Needless to say, massive performance gains to be had for the same price!

Humming along at 700Mhz, so far it has reliably operated for a month and still ticking (I’ve only shut it down once as I was building a Lego case for it)

Calculating cadence (RPM) with a speedometer

I don’t care about what anything was designed to do, I care about what it can do” – From the movie Apollo 13 (1995)

Last year I bought this speedometer for my bike, quite reliable given that you don’t quick release it all the time (the mount broke eventually). Which is why now I have a Cateye Velo 9, a much sturdier piece of equipment. However, it doesn’t calculate cadence (RPM), which is quite a useful metric. Getting a quality speedometer that does both speed and RPM is expensive so I decided, why not buy another one of these cheap speedometers and turn it into a RPM meter.

The conversion


We no longer mount the sensor to the wheels as we are not measuring speed

Instead we mount the sensor to the pedal so that we can get the RPM of the pedal


These speedometers calculate speed in km/h by: RPM x 60 x Circumference of wheel in mm / 1,000,000

In this equation we are interested in extracting the RPM value and the only variable we can manipulate here is the circumference of wheel.

Therefore, we must manipulate the value for the circumference of wheel to negate the effects of the hard-coded multiplications programmed into speedometer.

Displayed value = RPM x 60 x COW / 1,000,000 where COW = circumference of wheel in mm
Displayed value = RPM x COW x 60 /1,000,000 we re-ordered it a bit
Displayed value = RPM x COW x 0.00006
We want COW x 0.00006 to equal 1 so that we get Displayed value = RPM x 1 which means Displayed value = RPM!
So, for COW x 0.00006 = 1, COW must equal 16,666.667

If we set COW as 16,667 then we will get RPM!

The problem

The maximum wheel circumference I can set is 9,999, way less than the required 16,667

The solution

Divide our COW value by 10 so that it displays RPM /10! Here’s it mathematically

Displayed value = RPM x 60 x COW / 1,000,000 where COW = 16,667/10 = 1,667
Displayed value = RPM x 60 x 1,667 / 1,000,000
Displayed value = RPM x 1/10

The result

When we input 1,667 as the wheel size, if it shows 81 which is how it shows 8.1, we need to remember that number is RPM / 10. So when it displays 8.1, we just x10 to get our RPM value!

Earphone showdown – Dollar store to brand name stuff!

The contestants

Klipsch S4 with Comply Active S100 foam tips

These are my primary earphones. They stay at home and are either connected to my computer or my Cowon X9 DAP, which also, stays at home.

Bought them on boxing day but if one were to buy them on amazon, it would be 70CAD. Comply foam tips are typically 10CAD for three pairs, but I got them for 2CAD for three pairs.

These are by no means the most expensive earphones on the planet. What they do represent is my limit in both the ability to tell the difference in audio quality and student budget.

These earphones will represent the 80CAD price-range

Denon AH-C50

These are my current “burner” earphones. I use them when I am outside connected to my Galaxy S4 or iPod Touch. The reason why I have another pair of earphones for outdoors is because I need it to be cheap, but yet deliver acceptable audio quality. Why cheap? Edmonton weather + typical on-the-go wear means any earphone that goes outdoor is automatically assigned a one year life span. I can’t afford to burn expensive earphones when they get chewed through like candy.

But Jacky, these are 50CAD earphones? Yup, however, I got mine on clearance and the box was damaged so I got them for 10CAD at a local BestBuy, value!

For the intent of this review, they will represent the 50CAD price range.

Cowon SE2

These are my backup earphone #1. They came with my Cowon X9 DAP; however, they are also avalible seperately. They are fairly inexpensive coming in at 15CAD.

They will represent the 15CAD price range.

Apple Earphones

These are my backup earphone #2. They came with my iPod Shuffle; however, they are also avalible seperately. Due to the fact they are the “last generation” design, you can find them on the internet for around 10CAD.

They will represent the 10CAD price range.

Electra Earphones

Probably the star of this review. These came from Dollarama (A Canadaian “dollar store”). They can be had for 1.25CAD. I bought them to see what kind audio quality can they deliver for the price. I don’t expect spetacular performance out of these, but as long as they deliver acceptable audio quality, I will place them accordingly in my list of earphones.

They will represent the 1.25CAD price range.

The approach

I am not an audiophile, so I will use words that will make any of them cringe. Sorry. Here we go:

Evaluation will be based on: Highs, mids, bass, sound stage, pleasantness, design and build quality. Rating each area out of 10.

Highs, mids and bass is fairly self explanitory. Sound stage will mean seperation between instruments and how much do I feel like I am “surrounded” by the music. Pleasantness will mean if the audio is harsh or not, basically can I tolerate the sound that they generate. Design will mean how it looks asthetically and how it fits physically in ears.
Build quality is how well it is built.

A picture, or should I say a graph, paints a thousand words

I think it is fairly self explainatory for most of the earphones. As we move down in price range, we see lower scores. But what happened to the electra earphones…?

I think I should explain what happened to the electra earphones…

Highs: They are there, but it is super harsh so 3/10
Mids: Its like a karaoke where the vocals are removed but there is a slight hint of it. Hence the -5/10
Bass: The bass is non-existent and potrayed by a snare like sound that bears no resemblence to the original track. -3/10
Soundstage: It’s like I am in a hollow cave and there is some music playing deep down in the cave somewhere. So I am justing going to say there is no soundstage? 0/10
Pleasantness: Listening to it for two minutes gives me a headache, by time a song is done (so 3~4 minutes) I want to pass out. I consider an earphone that makes a person pass out to exhibt negative pleasantness. -10/10
Design: Looks like they took a page out of Apple’s early earphone design and they did a pretty good job. 6/10
Build Quality: Non-existent, earphones feel like there’s nothing in them, the plug requires some fussing around before full contact 0/10


Some music is always better than no music? Not dollar store earphones.

Do not buy dollar store earphones, they provide negative utility.

Galaxy S4 i9505 running official CyanogenMod 13 for jfltexx

So, I’ve made the jump to CM13 after a month since the nightly builds started to rollout. So here’s how it went!

CyanogenMod 13, Nightly build, February 1st.

(The whites are yellow because I have Live Display activated to not mess with my sleep cycles as much)

Live Display deactivated for those who are concerned with the yellow tint.

The upgrade

I did a dirty flash, also known as an in place upgrade. On CyanogenMod, they heavily emphasized that you need to immediately update your GApps and other 3rd party applications you might have installed in one go. I did that, but I am not sure what happens if you don’t heed that advice.

Start = CM 12.1 SNAPSHOT from November 17th, 2015
Turn off phone
Boot into ClockWorkMod Recovery
Clear cache
Clear dalvik
Flash zip file containing CM13 NIGHTLY from February 1st, 2016
Flash zip file containing OpenGApps for Marshmallow (I used nano)
End = CM 13 NIGHTLY from February 1st, 2016

What seems to work completely

Phone calls – Sending and receiving
SMS – Sending and receiving
Data – Only tested HSPA, the i9505 does not have the LTE bands transmitted in Edmonton
WiFi – Wireless N and G seem to be OK
GPS – A little slower maybe? But accurate once lock is acquired
Display – LiveDisplay as seen above works (it’s night, so the screen gets a warmer tone), hover touches also work
LED notification light – As seen above, the red light means I have a text message
Sound – Speaker, earpiece, headphone jack, all OK
Sensors – Proximity, IR sensor (for gestures), Accelerometer, Magnetic, Gyroscope, Temperature, Barometer, RGB, Humidity, Gravity, Orientation all OK
Buttons – Power, Home, Volume up and down work

What seems to work partially

Bluetooth – I was able pair with my stereo Bluetooth speakers OK, but attempts at pairing with a Pebble has caused a soft reboot.

What seems to not work

So far none that I’ve discovered

What seems to be missing when coming from CM12.1 Nightly

– Ring targets when you drag up from the home button. Right now it is still the standard Google Now
– Quick setting tile customization. It kept the layout that I had from CM12.1 but I cannot configure it

So, how is it?

Overall very smooth. Noticeable speed / smoothness improvement when juggling between applications. There is hardly any lag when switching between things. Marshmallow is an “incremental” update from lollipop so the phone feels more refined but not “oh it feels like a new phone”.

Battery life is the same as CM12.1. That means I can get through a day as usual.

I don’t use Bluetooth nor do I have it turned on so the fact that it only works partially did not bother me.

Currently I have no problems in using it as my primary phone.

[Bike] – GT Avalanche 2014 Review

It’s been a month since I bought it and now it’s time for an official review 🙂


As some may notice…

This is the women’s version of the GT Avalanche, so really, the real name is GTW Avalanche.

There is nothing wrong with a guy riding a women’s bike. The difference is usually a dropped top tube and a smaller bike at the same size rating.

Dropped top tube – Historically speaking, this is done so that women can wear skirts on bikes. For me on a mountain bike, maneuverability is always welcome. Having a dropped top tube means I can get into more positions without smashing my crotch. Yup, I definitely don’t want to smash my crotch, therefore I conclude this as feature for guys too. The guy version of the GT Avalanche also features a dropped top tube, but not sure if it is as aggressively dropped as the women’s version though.

Smaller sizing – Just buy a larger size. I am probably a size S on guy bikes, but nothing wrong with going with a size M on women bikes. (Might be a problem if one is sized XL as there is no XXL to move up to)

Clean of stickers

Edmonton has a bike theft problem. Having all these fancy stickers on the bike just screams “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” (Bonus points for knowing what song this came from!) To me this bike already screams sexy in its sticker-less natural beauty form, so I took them all off.

But these stickers look good though, throwing them away is a bit of a waste…

So I stuck some of them on to my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet. Because you know, “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” 😛

The drive train

This is definitely an area of concern. Snow, slush and salt is just all bad for the drive train.

How I take care of it:

Every day after the commute is done, I rinse it down with water.
Every week I wipe the chain, lube it, run it through the drive train and wipe off the excess

So far the rear is looking good, no visible rusting. In combination with the Shimano Deore, the shifting is as smooth as I can imagine it to be.

The front is looking good too, no visible rusting as well. Even though the Shimano Acera is a lower-end part, there is no problem with it so far.


I have to angle the shifters down quite a bit in order for my thumb to have full access to the rapid fire mechanism. This is a slight design problem as the “window” that shows which gear I am in is now completely facing forward, or away from me.

Yeah, because it’s facing forward, everyone can see the gear I am in except me. Not a big problem for me as I am pretty good at remembering what gear I’m in. Design flaw? Maybe. Or maybe I just have short thumbs.

Can be quite convenient though, here I’ve managed to slip the bell closer to my grip. A more accessible bell is always a plus on a commuter bike.


This is almost critical in Edmonton given the amount of snow that we have. They can lock the wheel way better than a v-brake system since the braking mechanism is much further away from the elements of the road.

The system is hydraulic based so it is very responsive. The reach is adjustable, I like it further away so that I can have my fingers (with gloves) under it even with it pressed down.

To those who are v-brake believers, this is why they don’t work well in Edmonton. This is my other bike, the NEXT Challenger. Yes, it has a cheap v-brake system but physics don’t play nice. No amount of money will buy you a v-brake that works well when Edmonton turns them into ice.


Not especially wide, so you are not going to be getting crazy controls out of it. That slope between the grip and the middle will make mounting a pain or impossible unless it’s rubber band based. Which is why I have nothing mounted at those points.

Suspension fork

A Rock Shox 30 Silver TK. I have the rebound set to “turtle” mode, aka slower rebounds. Mostly a commuter bike, so smoothing out the occasional bump is all I ask of it. I can’t speak for what happens to it when it compresses to the maximum 100mm as I’ve never had it go that far. I have had it go down to 50~60mm and no problems there. One thing about suspension forks on snow/ice is the extra movement sometimes makes you think you slipped when it is just the suspension moving. So sometimes I make some corrective maneuvers when it’s not necessary. Not a big deal, but might give some people a scare.


Features GT’s triple triangle design. Supposedly gives you a stiffer frame. This looks like it has some bmx DNA to it and kind of rides like it has some bmx DNA to it. I think it makes sense on a mountain bike.


I mostly ride off saddle, so not very important to me. The slim shape is good, gets out of my way. The nose is long enough for my thighs to grip on to it while riding out of saddle for extra control. For the times that I do sit on it, feels ok, nothing special. Cosmetically, I like how it has some purple highlights to match with the frame, nice touch.

The accessories

These are not part of the bike purchase, but they do add to the experience. Since I am reviewing the bike as a whole as it is setup, these will be included here.

CATEYE Velo 9. Was debating on either this or the Sigma BC 5.12. Friend has it and said it worked reliably for years so I got it too. The quick release mechanism is slide based. Not a big fan of it as it looks like it might break one day, but we will see. Other than that, very typical wired bicycle computer. Current speed (with comparison to average indicator), average speed, max speed, total time, total distance, CO2 offset, calories burnt and time.

Planet Bike – Blaze 500 XLR. Given the name, it outputs 500 lumens for 2.5 hours, a low mode at 250 lumens for 4.5 hours and a blinky mode. I bike at night in ok-lit areas (like I could technically see without a flashlight), running this in low mode (250 lumens) was plenty for me. At 500 lumens it can light up around five meters of road, plenty for me to react. When it comes to lighting up street signs (which are reflective) the range is stupid far. It lights up signs that are beyond the resolving capabilities of my eyes. Mini-usb rechargeable means I need a separate cable because everything like smartphone nowadays use micro-usb ports.

Knog Blinder 4 – Rear version. Four red LEDs, 44 lumens and claims 50 hours on eco-flash. In eco-flash, only two LEDs come on at once, alternating creating the flashing pattern. I personally use the flash mode where it flashes all four LEDs at once. Battery life is closer to 4~5 hours in this mode.

Integrated charging solution. The USB port flips out for charging! Quite convenient as that means you can charge practically anywhere anytime.

Zefal Deflector FC50. The most useless front splash guard I’ve ever used. It basically blocks splashes that would otherwise been blocked by the frame already. Basically, you are still going to get splashed in the front with these. I have them put on strictly because it came in as a package with the rear splash guard.

Zefal Deflector RC50. The complete opposite of its frontal counterpart. This is the most effective splash guard I’ve ever used. Never had a single dot of mud or splash on my back with these on. Despite the looks it is very stiff. I can put a wet towel on it and yes it will bend, but not enough to hit the wheels. So don’t worry about it flapping around. The grey part is reflective material, bonus!

A Diadora branded ring ring. I like the tone that it makes. However, the color scheme doesn’t really match my bike.

Oh well 😛


To shorten my review into a sentence? This thing rides like a dream.



[Online adventures] #10 – New Balance 574

“I am at a whole new level of laziness”

This, will not be a review. I’ve been wearing this “type” new balance shoe for a long time and all I have to say is this: don’t run in these, walk in them.

Why do I say “this type”? This is why:


This is the “373”



This is the “501”



This is the “515”



This is the “574”


This is the “996”

I think I made my point, all these new balance shoes practically look the same, but they all have different model numbers. How do I know these numbers? Wearing them for the past ten or more years help.

But I digress…

The real purpose of this post is to talk about why “I am at a whole new level of laziness”.

Needed to buy some shoes, preferably ones with a flat bottom for biking. “These” New balances and Converse come into mind. Never wore a converse ever, so New Balance it is.

It was available in Foot Locker at West Edmonton Mall.

But it’s 40 minutes away from downtown…

Free shipping on $49 or above items! You probably know where this is going… Shipping it is. (Or does this count as trucking? I sure hope it didn’t hop on a ship 😛 )

Got acknowledged e-mail on January 25th.

Feeling incredibly lazy, using UPS for 11KM. But hey, it was free. Oh well 😛

Got shoe on January 28th 3PM.

I like the description: “Met customer man”. Yeah man, I met up with the delivery person!

The end? Nope.

Got confirmation e-mail on the same day an hour later at 4PM. Wait what?

Yup, UPS got to me faster than the confirmation e-mail did. Even e-mails are getting lazy.

Once I open the box I am reminded of how lazy I am, I had West Edmonton Mall UPS a shoe to me for 11KM.

Trip to St. Albert by bike (Yuzen for Ramen!)

In Edmonton, this is a good day, nice and warm, despite that it says cloudy, it was actually really sunny too! To me this screams get out of the room, and get on the bike 😛

But where to go yo? It’s been awhile since I had nice ramen. In Edmonton, the only place that has nice ramen is Yuzen, in St. Albert.

Destination: Yuzen, St. Albert

The Plan:

15KM ride leaving from downtown. Unlike last time with Sherwood Park (link), I did not get lost so this is also what actually happened.


Battery for emergency charging (bike lights, phone what not)

Snacks for me. I cannot emphasize this enough, bring some emergency snacks for bike rides. In this case it is especially important since I am going on an empty stomach and I can run out anytime.

No tools this time, as I am riding my GT Avalanche and I am not expecting this bike to act funny on a short trip

Ready to go!

Yuzen only does ramen up till 2PM, last order 1:45PM. Better get going!

Obstacle course by design? This was on 112 Street. Due to parking on the sides, it’s pretty much a bi-directional single lane. However, cars here are very slow and very courteous. Cars drive towards the sides or even stop to let me pass. Other times I do the same for cars, it’s mutual.

Riding in the neighborhoods. Minimal traffic, very calm, quiet and great weather. Beautiful

Sherbrooke Ave, one more turn and I will be going into the St. Albert Trail, the main road.

St. Albert Trail. This is the last photo before I enter St. Albert. There is a reason for that. Remember what I said two photos ago?

“Riding in the neighborhoods. Minimal traffic, very calm, quiet and great weather. Beautiful”

Yeah, toss all of that.

Here on the main road, traffic is real, getting up to speed is very important. My shifting strategy was 32:24 >> 44:24 >> 44:18 as described previously. (link)

Max speed here is 60km/h and 60km/h is probably what these vehicles are doing. Me? I was doing 28km/h-ish.

At first I rode near the curb for safety, but people like to push their luck. Some cars still thought it was a good idea to pass me with one meter clearance in the same lane when the other two lanes are wide open.

So I used another tactic, in the right most lane, ride in the middle and “dominate” the lane. Much safer, cars get the message and now use the other two lanes.

Sidewalks availability is spotty. Sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. So if you want to traverse St. Albert Trail on sidewalks, you’ll have to switch left and right quite often. Every time you switch, you are crossing six lanes of traffic, not good.

So I stuck with my ride at the right lane, and dominate the lane strategy.

Welcome to St. Albert. For some reason, I really like seeing these “Welcome to” signs

I have arrived at Yuzen!

40 minutes, 13KM. What? 20km/h? So slow?

Finding parking. It took me 10 minutes to find a place a place I can lock my bike to. Unlike Edmonton, where there is a place to park everywhere. St. Albert? I didn’t see any near Yuzen.

I ended up using some pole that seems to protect the water pipes from getting crashed on by cars in a back alley.

Locking strategy here:

First u-lock locks front wheel to fork brace

Second u-lock locks back wheel and frame to the pole

Not the best, ideally I want both u-locks to go through the pole, but this is best pole I can find around.

Took me another 5 minute to walk from parking to Yuzen. Arrived at 1:30, just in time as their last order is 1:45 🙂


Oh did I mention Yuzen only does ramen Saturdays 11:30am-2:00pm? Yes, one day for 2.5 hours a week.

The menu

Being a ramen fan, I loaded this up 😀

Tonkotsu ramen – 12 CAD

Chashu (the meat) 5pc – 3 CAD (the ramen comes with one, so now a total of six)

Ni-Tamago (soft egg) – 0.5CAD (1CAD originally, but owner said it’s not perfect today so 50% off. Even though it’s “not perfect” today, they still beat just about any Edmonton or Vancouver ramen shop you can name. Yes, even Vancouver, it’s that good)

Seriously, don’t let the plain looks from the camera fool you. This bowl of ramen is probably one of the best tasting ramen I’ve ever had in my life. That’s saying something because I’ve had a wack load of ramen at all kinds of price points in various places. This is definitely up there. How do you know it’s up there? I biked all the way from Edmonton downtown to St. Albert in winter just for it. I’ve been here before (by bus which is painfully slow) and I know, at the end of the bike ride, I will be rewarded with a bowl of nice ramen.

I won’t describe the taste as I don’t want to spoil the magic moment you get a taste of it. Actually, it’s just so good I can hardly convert it into words 😛

So I’ll just leave it at this: 10/10 or as the kid that sat next me likes to say: “A+++++++++++++…” (so cute!)

The return trip

Normally, I would just take the same way back, but then I had a bit of a “Jacky moment”. I thought “hey, let’s trying going straight down into University of Alberta! I think it’s going to be really quick” (I will soon find out, quick indeed)

So instead of turning at Sherbrook Ave, I ignored it, and went straight down. In hindsight, sigh… I will quickly regret this decision.

Oh well 😛

Through the small roundabout, into Groat Road

The lack of real life images probably tells you that I might have been busy…

Groat road… max speed 35km/h.

Normally I bike at the gear 44:18 for a speed of around 27km/h. Then downhill…

*click* I shifted into 44:15

*peddle, peddle* 33km/h…

*click* I shifted into 44:13

*peddle peddle* 38km/h…

I was tempted to shift into my final gear 44:11 but I’ve hit the speed limit. As a law abiding citizen I stopped shifting, and I am now traveling as fast as the cars around me.

What’s the fuss? Roadies do this stuff all the time.

Look at those curves… and the frozen road. I’m on a mountain bike without winter tires. I definitely understood why the 35km/h speed limit was in place. I knew if I went any faster, I might skid. If I tried to brake I might lose control of the rear wheel. Pick your poison scenario.

I decided to freewheel through at ~37km/h, off saddle and shifted my weight to the back just in case an unavoidable pot hole comes up. That turned out to be an okay decision, given the situation.

With every decline, there is an incline. Yeah, that wasn’t much fun either. Some fish tailing here and there but I was on a sidewalk this time. Also I was only going at a puny 15km/h so no big deal.

I reached University of Alberta in about 25 minutes on this path. An extra 10 minutes to get back to downtown. The route was 4.5KM longer, but I still got back five minutes faster.


Overall, not surprisingly, staying off the main road (St. Albert Trail / Groat Road) will be the safest and most peaceful way to get to St. Albert. A safer route will be going through normal streets and minimizing time on the main road. However this safety detour will probably add another 5KM to the total. Totaling upto to 20KM.

For those who like the fastest way, St. Albert Trail and Groat Road is doable in the winter, but not for the faint hearted. Maybe better in the summer? At least slip and slide won’t be an issue.

Looking at this should give you a good idea of what I looked like after the ride.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t like to go fast in winter.

Oh well 😛

But hey! I burnt 471 calories!

… and most importantly, I came back for this 😛

Until next time