So many choices, so little time…

2011 Phoenix Air Shell
2011 Tecnica Phoenix Air Shell 90

Sorry for the delay in my postings. As I’m sure you’re aware, Mother Nature has given us a sneek preview here in the Northeast. With truckloads of 2011 product has been arriving daily and curious customers checking it all out, there’s been little time to write.

So, how about you? Have you paid a visit to your local ski shop and spoke to an ‘experienced’ boot-fitter? If so, I hope you asked all the right questions and had a pleasant experience. If not, the clock is ticking. It won’t be long before the mountains are open and you’ll still have your old boots to manage.

Whether you have or have yet to, here’s some things to consider when looking at the boot wall –

Just as there are many brands of skis, so are there for boots. Within each brand, there will be a multitude of models. Gone are the days when Lange was the ‘narrow’ boot brand and Salomon was the ‘wider’ boot brand. Each model of boot will represent a certain shape/volume of foot. Within that model, there will be a variety of ‘flex patterns’ specific to a skier’s ability, agression level & physical weight.

Confused, yet? Now you can see why it’s so important to find the right boot-fitter.  

Regardless of your foot shape and ability, nearly every brand of boot will have something for you. However, it may not be that the store chose to stock every model from every company. In fact, I can guarantee they did not – Nordica alone has 50 models of boots – men’s, women’s & kids; high performance, all-mountain, freeride/park & recreational; 98 to 104+mm last – and those are the ones they publish on their website. There are even more that aren’t listed. Multilpy that by Atomic, Dalbello, Full Tilt, Head, Lange, Rossignol, Salomon, Tecnica…well, you get the picture.

So, where does that leave you? Back in the hands of a qualified boot-fitter. Set that appointment and set aside the time to try on 2-3 pair of boots…MAXIMUM! This could mean up to an hour! You’ll be spending at least 15 minutes in each boot and there will likely be more time for ‘fitting’ of the boots – liner and/or shell heating, bucklet & cuff adjustments, insole fitting and possibly a liner stretch or two. This should help clarify the difference between a ‘boot-fitter’ and a ski boot salesperson.

Whether you are new to owning boots or this is your 10th pair, treat yourself to NEW skis socks upon your arrival. It is imperative that you fit the boot to the sock you’ll be wearing.  Just picking out socks can be a daunting task. In a nutshell, I prefer the Smartwool PHD brand – light weight for the performance fit or wider foot, medium weight for the average skier and narrower foot. Get at least two pair – one to start the day and a second pair for the afternoon. Dry feet are warm feet.

Get measured/evaluated properly. You should be measured four ways on a Brannock style measuring device – length, forefoot width, arch height and instep height. An experience boot fitter will also observe even more about your particular anatomy – leg, ankle and foot alignment…or lack there of. Don’t worry about the numbers, your shoe size will not come into play here. It’s all about the boot sizing. A snug fit will take shape of your foot. Along with the proper foot support from a quality footbed, the result will be relaxed muscles and maximum circulation = maximum warmth & performance.  A ‘comfy’ fit will become looser in no time =cold & tired feet on the mountain. Remember – this is an athletic sport, not a walk in the park….they won’t feel like your UGG’s.

The 2011 gear reviews can be a blessing and a curse for the retailer. It’s somewhat easy to pick out your next pair of skis based upon what you read. However, the boot is completely different. While customers often feel the desire to pick out their own boot based upon appearance, let the boot-fitter offer up suggestions after the evaluation. Doing so will save you a great deal of time and aggravation.  While the prices may be higher than you expected, don’t let that weigh in your decision. As we mentioned, ‘happy feet’ are what’s most important – let your feet make the final call. Trying on two different boots side by side will narrow down the selection. Take off the ‘loser’ and put on the third option, if one exsists. Since feet are often different in size, make sure  you try on both and stay in them for another 10-15 minutes – stand, flex and read a magazine…better yet, take a look at the ski wall and start planning that purchase.

All in all, a sound boot fitting experience should yield a pair of great fitting ski boots – one that will surely improve your skiing ability as well as your overall skiing experience.  Next time, we’ll discuss the importance of foot beds for every skier’s & boarder’s boots. Then again, you may have learned about them already from your boot-fitter.

Registration for 2011 BP MS150 & Team Sun & Ski Sports

Riding in the 2011 BP MS150?  It’s registration time!

7729056860930-2TRegistering for the 2011 BP MS150 is a little different than last year.  Top Fundraisers will get first dibs on registering first and general riders will have to wait.

Details of the registration process are below:

Top Fundraisers Priority Registration

  • If you raised a minimum of $1,000 in the 2010 BP MS150, including Club 300 members, you will have the first opportunity to register for the 2011 BP MS150.
  • You should have received an email notification the week of September 13 with detailed instructions.
  • Top Fundraiser Priority Registration is from October 11-18.

General Registration

  • Registration will be a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Wednesday, October 20 at 10:20 am.
  • You can register at www.ms150.org for General Registration.

Please note, Team Priority Registration is not offered!

When registering for the 2011 BP MS150, whether you are a Top Fundraiser, returning rider or new rider, be sure to specify that you want to ride with Team Sun and Ski Sports.

*If you are having trouble finding Team Sun and Ski Sports when registering, register as an individual rider and you can be placed on the team at a later time.

After registering for the 2011 BP MS150, you will need to officially register for Team Sun and Ski Sports at www.sunandski.com/events to receive great benefits that Sun and Ski has to offer.

The cost is $95 and gets you a team jersey, entrance into 5 recommended MS150 training rides ($175 value), store discounts, pledge rebate and much much more!
Visit www.sunandski.com/ms150 for a full list of benefits.

For questions or concerns about registering for the 2011 BP MS150, call the National MS Society, Lone Star office at 713-394-2900.

Questions about Team Sun and Ski Sports?  Email the Team Captain at teamcaptain@sunandski.com.

Memorial Park Trail Run – Purple Route

Park:                      Memorial Park Mountian Bike Trails – Purple Route
Location:                6501 Memorial DR Houston, TX 77001
Trail Length:          1.63 miles
Level:                     Intermediate

Memorial Park – Purple Trails – Trail Run Video

Satellite Image of Map

Memorial Park Purple Trail Map with Elevation

Memorial Park official layout

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Memorial Park Mountain Biking Purple Trails located inside the 610 loop:
6501 Memorial DR Houston, TX 77001 . This is a Intermediate Level Trail Run.

I rank trails into three categories. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

Beginner Trails are under a mile, usually only gravel, asphalt or concrete.

Intermediate trails are over 1 mile in length, and under 3 miles. They consist of gravel, asphalt or concrete.


Advanced trails are over 3 miles in length or are off road trails that are not paved, usually used by mountain bikers. The terrain of these trails requires trail running shoes and focus on the ground is essential.

Memorial Park is New York’s Central Park for Houston. It’s huge, it has a golf course, a driving range, a fitness center, a swimming pool, play grounds for the kids, pick nick and BBQ grounds, tennis courts, a 3 mile jogging course, mountain biking trails, horse back riding trails, volleyball courts, baseball fields, soccer fields and a rugby field all in one place. It’s the best park to get out and see thousands of people all doing different things enjoying the wonderful weather in Houston!
I use the mountain biking trails for my intermediate to advanced trail runs. Memorial Park has over 12 miles of mountain biking trails.

Today we’ll be looking at the purple trails that are behind some of the baseball fields.


A Word of Caution, please remember that these trails are intended for use by mountain bikers, so always use caution when running in the trails, and always give bikers the right of way, they move much faster than your usual jog and will be out of your way in no time. When you hear some bikers, pull over to the side and let them pass.


The purple trail is 1.67 miles in length. It’s a wonderful run through the wooded area of memorial park. You will experience a wonderful feeling of being lost your first few runs. Every Time I’m out there running, it feels like I’ve left Houston and I’ve gone to an enchanted forest. It’s excellent for stress relief.


There are two or three technical hard parts in the trail where you do really need to watch your step and be careful. This is why I’ve ranked this trail as intermediate. It’s a good idea to have some good trail running shoes for better traction and stability.


Otherwise the run is very easy with a few terrain changes, from soft sand to hard dirt and a bit of broken up concrete. There is a few wooden bridges / overpasses. There is one scenic overlook were you can stop to take a breather and enjoy the beautiful bayou below, then get back to your run.


All in all, this is one of my favorite places to run because of the variety. There are serveral more trails and it’s very easy to plan out any distance you want without ever getting bored with the scenery.


This is a must run for anyone wanting to get into running, or anyone that is into runninng that has not run this route.


For more information with map layouts, please click on the links above included in the blog.

Trail Running – Houston

Park: Nottingham Park
Location: 14205 Kimberly LN, Houston, TX 77079
Trail Length: 0.75 miles
Level: Beginner

 Nottingham Park Trail Run Video

Nottingham Park Trail Map with Elevation

Nottingham Park official layout

Nottingham park is the perfect park for beginners, or those with kids that will enjoy the park while you jog.  The trail is only 3/4 of a mile, which gives the beginner a nice scenic loop with several workout stations along the way.

I’m the kind of runner that does not enjoy running loops and try to get in at least  a 3 mile workout, but this park is special because of the workout stations.  To complete 3 miles I need to run the loop 4 times.  That gives me a chance to stop at each station 4 times so I end up with 40 pull ups, 40 site ups, 40 dips and 40 push ups.  That’s ideal for me. 

There is also a wonderful place to start or end your run that has all the workout stations.  It’s actually a kid fit center with a small rock climbing wall, but has all the pull up bars, push up bars, sit up station and it also has some monkey bars.

The park also has two tennis courts, a 12 hole disc golf course, a huge playground for the kids right next to a wonderful water park.

There are a few tables for picnicking as well.

Please watch the video above for detailed images of the park and make it out for a run.