Getting in Shape for Your Ski Trip

Skiing is a lot more fun when you are in shape. You are less likely to get hurt, can go longer, and will be able to handle more challenging runs. It’s important to understand what key muscles you will be using while you ski.

Quadriceps:
Since skiing is a downhill activity, your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your upper leg) maintain much of the control. It is important to maintain quad strength as it will prevent you from injuring your knees and keep you stable as you go down a run. This is especially important for women, as women are more inclined to get knee injuries. Women’s Health recommends squats for strengthening quadriceps. Lunges are also good for strengthening your quads. If you have access to a gym, a quadricep curl machine (which requires you to sit in a chair and lift your feet from a 90 degree angle to a zero degree one) are great at isolating these muscles.

Glutes:
Your gluteus maximus muscles (or your butt, if you aren’t too technical) are the strongest muscles in your body. For most physical activity, your glutes are your power source. Skiing is no exception. Have strong glutes will give you both power and control as you ski. Plies are good for glutes, and squats and lunges again are great for these muscles. A bosu ball provides an extra challenge for your squat and will improve your balance, which is key to skiing.

Inner Thigh:
Your gracilis muscle controls your inner thigh. Strengthening your inner thigh will help you control your speed when you traverse and will give you stability. Side squats are good for this. You can also get ankle weights and do inner leg lifts to isolate this muscle.

It’s also key to be in good aerobic shape when you ski. Skiing is aerobic anyway, and the altitude makes the air thinner, which makes breathing more difficult. Getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week is a good starting point.

**Remember, this post is a basic guideline and does not substitute for 1.) seeing your doctor to see if you are fit for these exercises and 2.) seeing a professional trainer who can evaluate your personal fitness level.**

Choosing Ski Bindings

Ski bindings are the all-important component that anchors you and your ski boots to the skis. Convenience, performance and riding style are all important considerations when selecting the right pair of bindings for your setup.

Types of Ski Bindings
Step-in bindings, also called alpine bindings, are by far the most popular type of binding for downhill skiers. The simple design allows each binding to attach to the boot at the heel and toe. A hinged heel allows for easy step-in. The design delivers a solid combination of performance and convenience. Cross-country and telemark bindings do not anchor the heel to the ski, and are ideal for cross-country skiing.

Getting In and Out
When purchasing bindings, one of the most important considerations is being able to get in and out quickly and easily. The ski boot should easily step into the binding and deliver a tight hold. However, this hold should be balanced by the binding’s ability to release the boot from the ski in the event of a fall. Failure to do so significantly increases the chance for serious injury.

DIN Release Settings
To ensure proper release during crashes, ski bindings can be set to release after a specific level of pressure is applied. This level of pressure is known as the DIN. Most ski bindings feature a range of DIN settings that allow the rider to adjust the specific release setting. Choosing the correct DIN setting varies according to skier height, weight, boot size and skill level. However, a rough guide for proper DIN settings can be outlined based on skier weight:

Less than 125 lbs: 0.75 to 4.25 DIN
126 to 180 lbs: 4.25 to 6 DIN
More than 180 lbs: 6 DIN or higher

Please bear in mind, the better a skier you are, the tighter your bindings could be.  If you are unskilled, you want your bindings to come undone when you fall so as to prevent injury.

Ski Binding Features
Once binding size and DIN setting have been determined, it’s time to look at specific features. Different features are advantageous to different riding styles. Some of the most important include:

Release directions: Most heel-side bindings allow for upward release and toe-side bindings allow for sideways release. However, some allow for upward or sideways release at both the toe and heel.

Ski stiffness: Harder skis deliver more vibrations to the skier. Bindings made of rubber do a better job of dampening these vibrations.

Forward pressure: Skiers who ski under high pressure will likely desire a binding with a forward pressure mechanism that ensure the boot stays attached to the ski.

Binding lift: bindings that lift the boots farther above the skis allow greater ground clearance and are ideal for carving in deep powder.

Adjustments: the ability to easily adjust the bindings for different ski conditions is a great feature for those who enjoy riding in a variety of snow conditions.

Sun & Ski offers Rossignol, Salomon, and Marker bindings. If you have questions, please visit the livechat on the top right hand corner of our website or give us a call at 866-786-3869.

Choosing Snowboard Bindings

Snowboarding is all about having complete control of your board. Bindings are an integral component in ensuring you can comfortably and easily turn the snowboard in a variety of snow and riding conditions. Before you head to your local snowboard shop to buy bindings, consider the following:

Pick Out Your Boots
Bindings typically come in three different sizes (small, medium and large). The right size for your setup is completely dependent on the size of your boots. As such, it is highly recommended that you select which boots you will be wearing before you buy the bindings. With boots on hand (or in foot) make sure that the bindings you are interested in allow easy entry for your boots and can easily be adjusted for a tight hold.

Types of Bindings
There are a few different types of bindings that offer varying degrees of convenience and performance. Strap binding and hybrid bindings are by far the most popular. The differences between each type are as follows:

Strap bindings: feature two straps that buckle over the top of the foot and ankle. A ratcheting design speeds up the strap-in process and ensures an effective hold.

Hybrid bindings: include a similar design as strap bindings, but instead use an ankle strap and non-adjustable forefoot sheet of fabric (called a yoke) combination. A hinged mechanism at the rear of the binding also assists in rear entry, making hybrid bindings more convenient than strap bindings.

Step-in bindings: allow riders to simply step into their bindings through the use of notched metal pieces found on each side of the binding. These pieces attach to similar notches found on the boots. These offer ultimate convenience, but due to a loss in board control, step-in bindings have failed to gain significant popularity.

Plate bindings: serve as a complement to hard snowboard boots used by downhill racers. Their superior support offers exceptional board control, and are therefore preferred by boarders who enjoy mountaineering or alpine touring.

Binding Stiffness
The final consideration in choosing snowboard bindings is stiffness. Softer bindings afford a greater amount of flexibility and maneuverability. As such, beginners and freestyle riders tend to prefer these bindings. Speed demons typically choose stiffer bindings, as they provide superior precision for high-speed carving.

If you need help choosing bindings for your snowboards, feel free to chat with a rep on our website or give us a call at 866-786-3869.

Sun & Ski Sports Customer Decides to Bike Across U.S.

For some people, cycling is recreational.  For some, it’s a basic means for transportation.  For Sun & Ski customer John “Waldo” Pyle, a bike is a means to evangelize his faith.  John is riding from San Antonio, Texas to Pensacola, Florida.  He’s taking a mobile camera phone and sharing his experience.  Check out “Where’s Waldo” on this site and don’t forget to drop him an encouraging word.  We wish John all the best on his voyage!

Cycling Clothes for Winter

We all think spring time is the right time to hit the bike.  If you are prepared, cycling during the winter can be just as much fun.  What are some good ways to make the most out of riding during the winter?

The Canari Men’s Eclipse Cycling Jacket is perfect for the winter.  It’s bright so you are more visible during winter’s short days and converts to a vest when you get hot.

Canari leg warmers and arm warmers can do wonders when you hit the road or trail.  They offer warmth and the moisture wicking you need to be comfortable while you ride.

The extremities are the first to get cold.  Sugoi makes a great toe cover so you can cover your toe vents and not worry about having cold feet.

Just like in any other cold winter activity, it never hurts to wear a good base layer either.  If you have any questions about our gear, feel free to give us a call at 866-786-3869.

Follow the Cycling Training Schedules of the Pros…on Twitter

You may have heard of Twitter on CNN or in tech magazines.  Twitter is a microblogging service that allows you to update your friends and followers on what you are doing day to day.  This might seem mundane, but if you are following updates of your favorite cyclists, you may get insight as to how you can take your training to the next level.  You might even be able to predict who wins the Tour de France based on whose Twitter updates show the most dedication.

According to BikeBiz.com, here are a list of professional cyclists currently using Twitter:

Lance Armstrong
Ivan Basso
Taylor Phinney
George Hincapie
Carlos Sastre
Axel Merckx
Jani Brajkovic
Dave Zabriskie

You can also catch Lance Armstrong’s trainer Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training on Twitter as well.

Gain some insight into the day to day operations of the pros.  Put good luck messages at their attention.  If you still don’t get the point of Twitter, check out this video.

By the way, don’t forget to follow us too ;-).

Help Us Support World Bicycle Relief

We love riding our bikes at Sun & Ski Sports.  Cycling is a great way to get around and also a wonderful way to stay in shape without incurring much strain on your joints.  For some people though, cycling gets people to work, delivers medicine and goods, and allows people to have a better way of life.  World Bicycle Relief is an organization dedicated to giving bicycles to people in developing nations to help them get around.  From December 17th to December 31st, an angel supporter will match DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR up to $750,000 any donation you make to this great cause.  Let’s help World Bicycle Relief meet their goal of 23,000 bikes.  You can make a donation at their website and follow DoubleBikeMatch on Twitter for updates on the cause.

Many thanks to the marketing agency StaleLife for bringing this to our attention.

Choosing the Right Flex for Your Snowboard

Flex refers to the degree of stiffness or flexibility that a snowboard delivers. Since snowboard flex directly affects the rider’s ability to control the board in different snow and terrain conditions, it should be an important consideration when buying a snowboard. There are two types of flex associated with a snowboard:

  • Longitudinal flex: the flexibility of the board from nose to tail
  • Torsional flex: the stiffness of the board from toeside to heelside

In general, the more flexible a board, the easier it will be to maneuver. Snowboards with greater flex tend to make sharp turns easier. It is for this reason that many experts suggest a more flexible board for beginners. The improved control delivers easier turning, especially at slow speeds.

Freestyle riders often prefer flexible boards as well. This is because sharp turns and improved maneuverability are frequently needed to land tricks or hit an obstacle with precision. Superior longitudinal flex also provides the flexibility needed to execute popular tricks such as nose grinds and 5-0 grinds. Tricks such as these require the snowboarder to ride along the surface of an obstacle while balancing only on the nose or tail of the boar

The downside of flexible boards is their reduced ability to hold an edge. Because of this, stiffer snowboards deliver better stability and performance at high speeds. They are also ideal for groomed snow runs. As such, freeriders and speed demons often prefer a stiff snowboard over more flexible options.

Snowboarders who enjoy both open-mountain and freestyle riding typically compromise by choosing a medium-flex snowboard. It is for this reason than many intermediate boarders avoid the extremes and buy a snowboard that provides relatively good control under all snow and terrain conditions.

Beyond riding style, a snowboarder’s weight should also play a part when it comes to choosing the best type of board flexibility. Broadly speaking, the lighter the snowboarder, the more flexible the snowboard needs to be. This is because less hefty riders need to exert additional effort to initiate turns and maneuver their board.

If you have any questions about snowboarding, give our sales associates a call at 866-786-3869.

Gifts for Your Favorite Cyclist

Cycling is a great sport, and the gear associated with it can be somewhat addictive.  Bearing this in mind, any cyclist should appreciate getting the latest and greatest gear for the holidays.  Here are a few choices you might want to consider:

Cycling Jacket
We all think of jerseys when we think of cycling.  When it’s cold, a jersey just won’t cut it.   Some jackets have some insulation while others are just shells intended to keep the wind out.  Two great options are the Sugoi Cycling Jacket and the Sugoi Mens Helium Jacket.

Cycling Tights

Most cyclists riding over ten miles at a time will have cycling shorts.  To stay warm and comfortable in the winter time, longer tights may be necessary.  Companies like Sugoi and Pearl Izumi make cycling tights for those times when shorts just won’t be able to keep muscles warm.  Consider ThermaFleece for extra warmth.

Sunglasses
Visibility is crucial when on the road, but standard sunglasses risk fogging up or falling off your face when on a bike. Companies like Oakley make sunglasses for cycling that often even have interchangeable lenses for different conditions.

Gloves
Standard cycling gloves are not meant to keep your hands warm when cycling.  They simply prevent the bones in your hands from hurting while riding distance on a bike.  Consider this varieties from Descente that are fleece-lined.

A Cycling Computer
It’s easier to attain goals when you can always track your progress. Cycling computers can be attached to a bike to monitor distance, time and speed. Consider the wireless Cateye Strada Computer or the Delphi 4.0 Cycling Computer.
There are a lot of gifts you can give this holiday, but the confidence your loved one can gain by hitting fitness goals is hard to beat, and Sun & Ski Sports has the gear to get them there.  If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call at 866-786-3869.

Free “Bike U” for Cyclists Set for Jan. 23-24, 2009

Houston – Dec. 5, 2008. . . .Sun & Ski Sports will kick cyclists’ training for the 25th anniversary MS 150 charity bike ride into first gear with its annual “Bike University” Open House Friday, January 23, 5-10 p.m. and Saturday, January 24, noon-6 p.m. at Sun & Ski Sports, 6100 Westheimer. The free event, open to the public, will feature customized bike fit sessions, cycling courses, clinics and hands-on demonstrations to enhance cyclists’ safety and overall bike riding experience.

“Whether you’re a longtime cyclist or brand new to the sport, Bike U provides the latest product information and safety, nutrition and maintenance clinics that help keep everyone safe on the road,” said Dale Mikulan, Sun & Ski Sports Merchandise Manager-Bikes, whose stores sell more bicycles in Houston than any other bike shop in the city.

“Bike University” will feature close to thirty 30-minute presentations led by cycling, fitness and nutrition experts on road safety, maintenance, bike fit analysis, training, nutrition and women’s specific cycling clinics. The program will offer the CRM body scanning laser fit and an “on your bike” fit evaluation at the store’s customized fit station. Sun & Ski Sports’ permanent fit station customizes the bike’s seat height, cockpit length and knee-to-pedal relationship to allow for the customer’s ultimate comfort and power on his or her bike, enabling them to ride further and faster while expending less energy.

There will be cycling-oriented door prize give-aways every two hours.

Instructors include representatives from such premier manufacturers as Marin Bicycles (Houston exclusive of Sun & Ski Sports); Masi Bicycles; Look; and Scott Bicycles – including the “Addict R3,” ($3,599.99, equipped with Shimano Ultegra SL components; Shimano Components and Shoes; cycling apparel by Pearl Izumi, Sugoi, She Beast, Zoots, Canari Cyclewear and Giradono; and accessories by Yakima (bike racks), Mavic, Polar, Continental Tires, Surfas, Giro, Black Burn, Rav X and Shimano.

The “Bike U” complete course schedule is listed on www.sunandski.com and includes.

Maintenance Clinics
Flat Fix and Wheel Truing; Break and Gear Adjustments

Training For a Two-Day Ride

Cycling Safety Clinic
Safety is a Frame of Mind; Ride Etiquette for Slower and Faster Riders; and Group Cycling Safety 12-Step Program

Bike Fit Analysis
Complimentary CRM Body Scanning Laser Fit and “On Your Bike” Fit Evaluation for Maximum Efficiency and Comfort. Be sure to bring your bike.

A-Line Foot Alignment System; Free Evaluation
Laser Aligns Feet for Maximum Pedaling Efficiency

Women’s Cycling Clinic
What Women Need for Cycling; Women’s specific products and why they need them; and How to improve the cycling experience for women

Nutrition Seminar
What to eat two weeks out, one week out and during the ride

MS 150 Weekend Prep
Veteran Tips for the Weekend
What to pack & what to expect

A full-service bike store, Sun & Ski Sports sponsors the fourth largest fundraising team in the MS Society Lone Star Chapter’s MS 150 and Tour de Houston and is title sponsor of the Southern Elite Cycling Team (seven years), Sun & Ski Sports Criterium Races and Sun & Ski Sports Tour de Donut. Known for its highly individualized approach to outfitting cycling experts as well as beginners, the store provides customers free customized bike fits and lifetime adjustments on its bikes with bike purchase.

Sun & Ski Sports, the “guide to the great outside,” outfits enthusiasts who ski, run, hike and bike around the world.

For further “Bike University” info, contact T.J. Jones, Sun & Ski Sports Corporate Bike Coordinator, (281) 340-5000, ext. 128, or visit www.sunandski.com.

Food Provided by Buffalo Wild Wings Bar & Grill
Food Supplied by Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill