Sun & Ski Ambassador- North Carolina

Meet our new North Carolina running and cycling Ambassador John 3

John has been running and riding most of his life. He makes a yearly bike trip from North Carolina to Florida. In 2014 he rode his bike from San Diego to St. Augustine Florida 30 days 

John has no fear of distance. He has ran numerous 100 mile events including the Fort Clinch 100 Iron Horse 100 , Pinhoti  100l, Georgia Jewel 100, and more recently he won the Uwharrii 100 in 2014. And in May he ran the inagrial running of the Peach State 300. A 300 mile journey by foot across the state of Georgia from the mountains to the sea. 

John is currently training to ride his annual 400 mile ride to Florida, and to defend his title in October at the Uwharri 100 mile 2

 Secretly in the works are possible plans to Ride the Divide. 

When not on the run or the bike he still has time to run his family farm, volunteer with his church and spend time with his family. 

John will be joining us at Sun and Ski of Concord for training rides and can often be found at our group runs. 

Welcome to the Sun and Ski Family.

blog 1

In the Canyon Race Report by Vern Alary

24 In the Canyon Race Report, Palo Duro State Park- May 30-31 2015.

3rd Place 50+ Geared: 14 laps, 113 miles. New PR’s for longest ride on a bike, road or dirt and the most time in the saddle, 13+ hours.


This was my first attempt at a 24 hour race solo after doing two on Grande teams.
The Niner Air 9 worked great the entire time. Lubed the chain and added fresh Stan’s on Friday. Josh cleaned and lubed the chain again on Sunday morning. This was a 100% self-supported race for me but I tried to have everything ready to go and never really had any issues. My Skratch drink mix was adjusted once or twice. I ate my peanut butter chocolate chip rice cakes, Skratch brownies, a few bananas and yogurt with granola.

I started out not drinking enough and started to cramp on lap 3. Shawn told me to get a least 2 bottles per lap down when he saw me on the side of the trail before too long. Once the cramping was under control I found my designated walking zones and on every lap did what I needed to keep the wheels rolling.



After lap 11 and riding with Luke on his first lap at midnight, I took a 3 hour nap. Fresh clothes and new day greeted me as I rolled out before 6 am. After getting back I checked the timing to find I was in fourth place, one lap behind Phillip and 3 laps ahead of the guy behind me. I saw that the BirdMan was done and packing up and after talking with him realized I needed one more lap to equal his total and another to move ahead and get on the podium. Two laps needed and 4 hours to GSD


My unofficial goal was 12-15 laps and getting 14 was a great  accomplishment for this weekend warrior who has ever been  a competitive person and the experience of doing this event was always the motivation but to end up on the podium with all my teammates was something I’ll always remember.

Thanks to THE best team ever for all the advice, encouragement and camaraderie.
And to my unofficial help/sponsors/coaches – RichFIT, Richard Drew (Skratch Labs), Sun & Ski Frisco, Trail led and mostly my wife, Robin – Thank you for everything.

Longboarding is for everyone!

By Ryan Allison


Longboards are a longer and more stable skateboard than your traditional trick oriented skateboard. They have softer wheels, which allow a rider to roll right over rocks and twigs. Longboards are a great way to get around college campuses or even your neighborhood. These boards carry their speed well, are fun and an easy way to get out and get moving. Longboards have a great range of use–from the neighborhood cruiser, to the fast downhill carver.


Skateboarding can be difficult and intimidating; but longboarding is much easier and more rider-friendly. This is due to the larger size of the board and wheels, which adds a great deal of stability compared to the traditional skateboard. This stability takes a lot of the hard falls out of the learning process.


What do you need to get started?

Well like all sports, there is probably no end to what you could choose to invest in regarding gear; but to get started, you really only need a longboard and a helmet. Always wear a helmet. There is other protective gear like wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and even tailbone pads. Although these options are out there, one can easily and safely learn how to longboard with only a helmet and a good attitude.  It also helps to have a pair of shoes with a flat bottom which will give the rider more control and stability. Once you get the hang of it, you can ride in just about any type of shoe.


Finding the Right Longboard

There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes of longboards a person can choose from. As with regular skateboarding, there isn’t really one right way to longboard. You may be a rider who cruises to and from work or class. Maybe you like to bomb hills or skate bowls. However you want to ride, there is a board for you.  The longer a board is the more stable it tends to be. This length can affect the turning ability or agility of the board, so a person who wants to ride in a skate bowl would want a shorter board than someone who wants to ride down hills, since a shorter board is better for tight turns but less stable for high speeds.


 Great Positioning    

Now we need to know which foot to place in the front and which goes in the back. If you have already   ridden sideways while wakeboarding or snowboarding, then just go with the same stance that you used in those sports. If this is your first time riding sideways, we need determine which foot is your comfortable foot with which to lead.  Riding with your left foot forward is called “regular stance,” and riding with your   right foot forward is called “goofy.” Again, there is no right or wrong stance– there is only what is comfortable to you. There are many ways to determine which foot you are most comfortable having forward. Here are a few that we find work well.


Finding your Lead Foot

One way to find out is to imagine you are just in your socks and you are going to run and slide on a wood floor. Which foot would you lead with? That’s your stance.  A different way to determine your stance would be to either imagine or actually kick a ball, and the foot you kick with is typically your rear foot in your stance. For instance, I kick with my right foot and ride sideways with my left foot forward, which is regular stance. Lastly, you can have a friend help you by standing with both feet together, and have your friend give you a push backwards. Whichever foot you put back behind to brace yourself is typically your rear foot.


Time to Ride

Now that you know which foot is your lead foot, you can begin to familiarize yourself with standing on and pushing the longboard. Your rear foot is your push foot. To start out, it is good to place your lead foot right behind the front trucks (the things that hold the wheels) at around a 45-degree angle (whatever is comfortable to you). Next, with your rear foot, you can give a push. Then place that push foot right in front of the rear truck. Now you’re longboarding! As you get more comfortable with your balance and control on the board you will be able to move your front foot with your toes facing the nose of the board while you push then when you pull your rear foot on. You will adjust your front foot back to that 45-degree position mentioned earlier.


Once you are able to push around, you can start learning to turn or carve on your board. Carving is done by leaning your weight onto your heels or your toes.  The direction you lean is the direction you will carve. You can adjust the trucks of your board to make turning easier at low speeds or tighten them for more stability at high speeds.  Find a nice open space with no traffic to practice carving and go down small declines.  You can stop by turning away from a decline or by slowing yourself down by dragging one foot on the ground.


However you choose to longboard, always wear a helmet, and remember to have fun! Longboarding is great because there is no wrong way to do it. Just go put down some carves and enjoy being outdoors!


Benefits of Cycling!!

Benefits of Cycling!!


Reduces risk of diabetes & high blood pressure!


ride 3


  Reduces stress!



 Supports a strong heart and big healthy lungs!



  Increases muscle tone!


ride 2


 Saves on gas money!! 



 Faster than walking!






Plus much, much more!

ride 1



Go ride a bike!!!!!!!


The most important thing you can do for yourself when buying a wakeboard is to buy the right size.  Not having the right size board can totally mess with your ride.  The right board = more fun!  Remember that!!


From brand to brand there are different thoughts on how to choose the right board but there is a general rule of thumb to stick with.


The heavier you are, the larger your board should be.  Simple.  The same goes for a smaller rider.  Smaller board is better.



Rider weight                        Wake Board Size

< 100 pounds < 130 centimeters
90 to 150 pounds 130 to 134 centimeters
130 to 180 pounds 135 to 139 centimeters


As you can see, some of the rider weights overlap.  Depending on your skill level you might want to go with a smaller, more maneuverable board…

A shorter board tends to be slower due to less surface area but this makes it easier to pull off those sick tricks!

Longer boards are better suited for beginners, as they are more stable and easier to get up on.


Remember, if you have questions or need more detailed guidance on different types of boards or different brands, you friends at your local Sun & Ski are the right folks to ask.

Stop in and see us and we’ll get you in the right gear!!!

Sun & Ski Challenge by Jillian Despard

Well, I finally took my exercising outside. Let me tell you, it was definitely no walk in the park. More like a jog interspersed with walking through the park. Lately I’ve come to realize why I dislike running so much; I feel like a troll lumbering through a fairy forest. When you see other runners on the trails, they almost look like they are floating their way down the path. I feel like every step I take thunders to the ground, sloppy and scraping across the gravel before my foot gracefully flaps up through the air again. Let’s not even talk about what my arms are doing during this time. Have you ever seen a T-Rex run? That is me, arms crunched into my armpits while my hands flop from side to side like sad little rag dolls. I’ve tried holding them straight by my side but the result is ridiculous and slightly creepy, picture a troll in a straight jacket careening through the nature trails with a slightly crazed grin. Will I ever be a graceful runner? Or will I and others be forced to embrace the awkwardness of my gait?

Hide so you don't have to run.
Hide so you don’t have to run.

It was thinking about this that I realized, I’m not doing this to make other people happy. I’m doing this for me, to make myself feel good, and to find a part of myself that I have never experienced before. Who cares if I scare away my fellow joggers or make them feel a little uncomfortable as they go out of their way to avoid eye contact? This is my journey and I shouldn’t feel compelled to go out of my way to make complete strangers feel comfortable with it.

On your mark, get set, GO!
On your mark, get set, GO!

On this journey I have come to realize how essential it is to have the proper equipment. My Nike’s might be comfortable for everyday but they don’t provide the support and comfort that your body needs while running. Comfort and fit aren’t the only things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect running shoe, terrain is also important. At a recent flash mob event I was introduced to Salomon running shoes, the perfect shoes for gripping the mud and slippery grass that lined the rain soaked course. I have enough problems with balance and coordination as it is so the less I have to worry about turning into a human toboggan, the better. My point is, do your research before taking on any new adventure. Wearing the wrong shoes can do some serious damage to your body and put any plans of an Olympic running career on hold. Go to the stores and don’t be afraid to try on a variety of different shoes, the first one isn’t always that perfect fit.

Sun & Ski Renegades set out to conquer TIR!!!


Nearly 180 years ago the Republic of Texas gained its independence from Mexico.  From the first shot in Gonzalez to the final battle at San Jacinto, Texians and Tejanos fought together for independence and freedom.


To commemorate the epic series of events that led to Texas’ Independence, runners from all over the United States and beyond gather together and run 200 miles in an event known as the “Texas Independence Relay”.  More than 100 12 person teams leave from Gonzalez and make their way to San Jacinto.  Running continuously through day and night the teams finally land on the same battle ground where General Sam Houston and his small army defeated President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana.


The Sun & Ski Renegades are setting out on their 5th TIR on March 28th.  This team is made up of Sun & Ski employees, ambassadors and friends who look forward to the challenge and team work that is necessary to complete this awesome race!



My Sun & Ski Challenge- Jillian Despard

When I started my internship with Sun & Ski Sports I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Especially when you are the least athletic person in the world surrounded by outdoor enthusiasts. I have always loved the outdoors but shied away from physical activity. An extreme lack of coordination drove me away from bikes and into swimming, which was strangely mostly indoors. So indoors was primarily where I stayed, until now.

This internship allows me to work in the main office as well as out in the stores, which gives me the opportunity to interact with everyone involved in Sun & Ski. I’ve learned that the employees are all truly passionate about outdoor sports and genuinely enjoy partaking in as many activities as they can. Last week I stood back and watched as a group prepared to head off to a full week of bike camp. An entire week of biking! It was while watching this group, with their hands gesturing wild and excited, their feet shifting impatiently back and forth, that I realized I want to be a part of this. I want to love something so much that the thought of an entire week of it gets me so excited even my hands can’t contain themselves.

To be honest, I felt a little embarrassed that I wasn’t involved in any sports or outdoor activities. Here I am, not only working for Sun & Ski but primarily focusing on the BP MS 150, and I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike. Actually, I do but I try to forget it because I nearly flew over the handle bars trying to ride it down the driveway.

So I decided to challenge myself to find that passion and excitement that the employees at Sun & Ski have for outdoor sports. Running, biking, swimming, hiking, I’m going to do it all. No excuses! Okay, except I do live in Houston so winter sports might be a little hard to come by. That is my only excuse, I promise!

Here is my plan: every single day I will either bike, run, swim, or hike. Weather permitting, I will be doing everything outside. Sun & Ski hosts several run and bike clubs each week, and I will participate in as many of those as I can.

My goal here isn’t just to get healthy and become more active, it’s to find the inspiration and passion for the outdoors that my coworkers have discovered. I also want it to be a lasting passion, I want this experience to change my life. This isn’t just for me, I want to inspire others like me. Anyone who wants to find that same passion but doesn’t know how.

On Monday I put my plan into action and let me tell you, starting a daily exercise routine is HARD. The first day was a breeze. Well, as breezy as trying to run after months of being a permanent couch fixture can be. Day 2 was a totally different story. I’m finding that motivation is the hardest thing, I kept trying to convince myself that I deserved a box of Girl Scout cookies for working so hard.

It’s not going to be easy, and I might not always like it but if I’m going to find that passion and drive, I have to push myself. I’ll use this space almost like a diary and I will be 100% honest. If I’m not being honest with myself then I won’t get honest results. So, here goes nothing! If you don’t hear from me for a few days check the bike trails, there is a good chance I fell off somewhere in the bushes.

Let’s Talk About Snowboards!

If you are thinking about picking up a new snowboard this spring, here are a few things you might want to consider…

Determine what type of riding you will be doing.

All Mountain, Free Style or Free Ride?

Will you be riding the park? Carving through powder? Are you just learning how to stay upright?? If so, you’ll be staying on the groomers. No matter what type of rider you are, you really need to know so you can make the right choice. There are different types of boards for different riding types…

board3  Photo: Justin L’Heureux

First, consider your budget.

Snowboards can go from $150 to $1000 bucks so it’s smart

A $1000 snowboard may offer some extremely high tech features such as a carbon fiber top sheet, and an aluminum honeycomb core but these may not be features that necessarily fit your riding style. Some expert some boarders ride boards that are in the $500 – $600 range because the boards features fit their riding style so decide what it is that you want to ride before you set a price you are willing to spend.

board2 Photo: Burton

How to choose the correct size board.

There are different factors that determine what size snowboard you should ride. Your height, weight, personal preferences and riding style are some of the key points that will tell you what size of snowboard will feel the best for you.

Advanced snowboarders choose what board size they ride based on the conditions and what terrain they will be riding for that day. A good rule of thumb for your first snowboard is to find one that when standing straight up, it comes to your chin…

In most cases, a person who is riding in the park would likely choose a shorter board than someone who is carving down the groomers.

board1 photo: Adam Moran

Reverse camber or regular?

Recently snowboard companies have started offering reverse camber snowboards and other types of the traditional snowboard shape. There isn’t one that is necessarily better but again, it depends on your riding style and personal preferences.

A park rider that rides mostly rails and jumps would likely go with the forgiving, soft feeling of a reverse camber board. Someone who likes to carve fast down the mountain might want a regular camber board that will offer you more edge control.

The best thing to do is come in to your local Sun & Ski and let one of our seasoned snowboard experts walk you through different scenarios. We will definitely get you on the board that suits you best!!

Sun & Ski Associate Spotlight – Colton Crallie

colton 1

History of bicycle racing:

I never intended to race bicycles. I got lucky and it found me. I played rugby for a span of 8 years. Starting in high school and ending as Division 1 level player. An injury forced me to start thinking about other outlets. My Best friend Chris had been working at a bike shop and he suggested I start riding.  So after much grumbling. I bought a bicycle and dedicated two years to commuting in order to lose weight and build proper fitness. During the course of those two years. I decided to race my bicycle. Only if I could start winning those races. I was lucky to  find a good coach and was able able to win the majority of my races in 2014 with the help of Betera Coaching.


Love of bikes:

My love of bikes began as a teenager riding road bikes with my father in Ohio. We started riding  on the road together.  In a way, it is a way we stay connected to him even though we are far apart. Bicycles are to me the perfect combination of human and machine. Training is a large part of my time on the bike. It is so similar to tuning a machine; Numbers and preparation. It’s amazing what  your body can do if you just give it a chance. I will never stop riding. My bike is my source of peace in a busy and messy world.


Prediction for the future:

I would like to combine my youth and fitness. Take them both and turn then into something special. I would like to race bicycles professionally specializing in criteriums.  As it stands now, I have spent the last two years preparing for this 2015 season and have many goals and barriers that I must accomplish in order to make my prediction a real thing. I’m lucky to have the support of the community,friends and family. On top of all those great things, I am also lucky enough to have the perfect job to help make this real. A place that supports bicycling at all levels but still supports those who want to take it a bit further.

Colton Crallie