BP MS150 Priority Registration – Team Sun & Ski Sports

If you are getting registered for the BP MS150 ride for 2010 and wanting to join Team Sun & Ski Sports, when you get to the registration page that allows you to search for your team, use the search term “Sun And Ski Sports” to find us. If you need further assistance, please contact us through the comment section below and we’ll be glad to help!

Bicycling Essentials #1 — Bike Shorts

I used to think bike shorts just made you look cool, and weren’t necessary for anything other than enhancing the aerodynamic-ness in competitive cycling.  That is completely wrong!

Bike shorts are mandatory if you are going to be riding a bicycle for any length of time longer about 5 minutes a day.  Why, you might ask?  Well, remember in high school anatomy when you looked at the human skeleton, and mused over the usefulness of a tailbone?  I am still wondering what the use is, and haven’t figured it out; however I have figured out what happens when you put 250+ pounds on your tailbone!  The next week after your first 5 or 10 mile ride, you walk around all day like John Wayne, having to carry around a doughnut pillow to work in shame.  I am serious folks, bike shorts are an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY!

But which bike shorts to pick?  Because they range in price between $20-100+, it is sometimes hard to pick out the exact ones you need without spending too much money.  My first pair of bike shorts two years ago was in the lower range, I think about $30-35.  They were functional, had a thin pad, and were useful on rides up to 5 miles without a great deal of pain.  The first time I used them on a 15 mile ride, I was sore for about 2 days.  If you are truly using a bicycle as a recreational activity, once a week or month for a shorter distance, these should work ok.

For the caliber of training Anna and I are trying to perform, with a daily requirement of at least 10 miles, we had to kick up our bike short choice up a notch.  TJ and the guys at Sun & Ski suggested that we use the Canari Elite Gel Cycling Shorts ($59.99).

When I first put the shorts on, I noticed that the pad was indeed very large and marshmallow-like.  I was a little apprehensive because I thought maybe the pad was TOO large (again, I was used to a thin layer of padding).  When I was driving my car to Memorial Park, I constantly noticed the pad between my legs. Anna and I were commenting to each other beforehand “I just don’t know about these shorts”.

It’s been over 3 months since I’ve touched a bike, and as such, I usually ride about 5-7 miles just to get my pelvis acclimated to the bicycle.  The next day, with my old bike shorts, I used to be sore for at least a day.

This time, it was different.  Anna and I rode 10 miles on an unfamiliar bike, and the super pad worked!  I was not sore immediately afterward, nor am I sore the day after!  While I am not a fan of lounging around in these shorts due to the awkwardness of the large pad, the extra amount of money spent on bike shorts, if used on any ride longer than 5 or 10 minutes at a time, is defintely worth it!  Go Canari!

Bicycling Essentials — Introduction

Yesterday evening, Anna and I rode at Memorial Park for about an hour, testing out our new bikes.  I’ll post the video later today or tomorrow so y’all can see our initial nervousness about getting out of our confort zone to ride the new MS 150 bicycles.

This is a first of a series of blogs entitled “Bicycling Essentials”, which will share tips, advice, and stories on the bicycling sport to amateur and aspiring bicyclists.  For intermediate or advanced cyclists, this will not be rocket science.

While I am fairly new to cycling as a sport, I think it’s important to share the “what you REALLY need to succeed” products.  I remember buying my first bike, the sales person suggested all of these bells and whistles in addition to the investment in the bicycle itself.  As any good consumer tries to do, I went in with the explicit intention to only buy the bike and nothing else.  As an intermediate or advanced cyclist might tell you, this really isn’t the mindset needed for a purchasing a bicycle.  After a few days, one of two things happens: 1) those customers usually burn out on cycling because they don’t have the accessories required to truly enjoy cycling, and their bikes sit in the garage for years to come; or 2) the customers have a bad cycling experience with the bike and come back to buy any and every accessory possible.  I was customer #2.

So, in the coming weeks, I’ll examine the necessities and accessories Anna and I are using in training for the MS 150, giving honest appraisals of usefulness, as well as skill level required to see benefit in any of the products we use.

I think it is extremely important for all Sun and Ski customers to be as educated as possible about the sport of cycling.  Fairly green in the sport myself, I think it will be a fun adventure that we can all embark upon, learning and sharing experiences at the same time.

Please save the dates of January 23-24th to attend Bike U at Sun & Ski, which is a catalog of free topical courses covering everything from beginner safety rules to advanced topics.  But more on Bike U on a later blog….

Wayne’s Bio – Sun & Ski Sports Cycling Slim Down

I graduated from Cypress Creek High School in 1996 with the explicit intention to wear a suit and tie every day of my life and make millions of dollars (like my idol at the time, Bill Gates) complete with a Hiram of Playboy Bunnies, by the time I was 30. I set off to earn a Bachelor of Business degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Texas in Austin. I had the time of my life! I was a Resident Assistant at a dormitory (of course I was the “Cool” RA), and a member of the top ranked UT Speech and Debate Team. I know that sounds nerdy, but it taught me to think on my feet and make stuff up to future bosses to make myself look good.

I am from a close-knit Catholic family, which has always been very important to me. I have two loving parents, who have been married for over 38 years! My two older brothers combined were my all-power nemesis growing up, but now they are some of my best friends. My mom, regardless of where she worked, always made sure she was home by 6 to cook dinner. I used to remember when eating out was a treat, and eating in was boring. Now, I wish things were reversed in my life, as a home-cooked meal is hard to come by. Dad taught me good old fashioned values, both personal and financial. “Gas”, he said “will never be above one dollar. If it is, I’ll just walk!” As of now, dad drives a truck.

My hobbies include going to Best Buy every 3 months to figure out what new useless gadgets are on the market, surfing the internet, and card and board games. I am usually unable to find anyone who would prefer games over a movie or bar-hopping, but when I do, I have a blast playing. I tried amateur stand-up comedy a few times, and even got booed the first time I ever attempted it. That didn’t stop me, though. I continue to write new material for performances about once a year. I have friends all over the country, and enjoy meeting up whenever possible. It’s funny, because the closest friends I have are the ones I see 3 times a year, but are the ones I can most easily start a conversation with.

I currently work for Waste Management in Downtown Houston in the IT Department as a Systems Deployment Coordinator.., but don’t ask me about exactly what my job title means… I think its random words put together to form a glorified title to make me feel better about myself to justify paying me less. No, I’m kidding. Unlike most people my age, I have been at the same company for almost 7 years, and every day is a new challenge and adventure. Almost everyone I work with is my friend, inside and outside of work. It’s a great work environment fit for me.

I met Anna 6 years ago through a mutual friend. We became close about 2 years ago, when she said we needed to be more active. I purchased a Haro bike from Sun and Ski Sports and began riding immediately. My first time out at Memorial Park, we rode 10 miles. And I felt that 10 miles in my groin for the next week. I always thought the bikers wore bike shorts because it made them look cool, not because they were padded. Boy was I wrong! I went back to Sun and Ski, purchased bike shorts and a Camel Pack, and I was good to go. Anna and I rode in about 5 bicycle rallies that Spring, and continued to do so the year after. Unfortunately, we never exercised outside of the Saturdays for those rallies, and never rode in enough rallies to lose a significant amount of weight.

This year, when I turned 30, I took stock of my life, decided it was good, and wanted to continue living life. I don’t want potential health ailments relating to obesity to take my life away from me. With Anna as my work out partner, I look forward to conquering my weight demons and living a healthy, active lifestyle. We have decided that we will do whatever it takes to ride in the MS 150. It’s a remarkable cause for charity. Every mile pedaled equals not only a healthier heartbeat, but valuable dollars to research the cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

I became aware of the disease from a friend’s daughter, who was diagnosed with MS 4 years ago at the age of 19. Steph lives a healthy lifestyle, is a good person, and still she has the random disease of MS. She began riding in the MS 150 3 years ago, and is a true champion for the cause. Steph does everything she can with medication, exercise, and diet to fight the effects on a daily basis. Her resilience is, and will always be, an inspiration to me. I hope that, with the help of Sun and Ski, I can both lose weight as well as raise money for a great organization to help the hundreds of thousands of Americans living with MS.

As you can tell from my biography, I have always wanted big things in life, just not a big waist. I didn’t get that million dollars, nor am I followed around by “hot chicks”, but I would not change a minute of my life. I am, after all, funny and fat. But I really want to be fit!

Anna’s Bio – Sun & Ski Sports Cycling Slim Down

I’m a native Houstonian and I attended Milby High School. I was a high school cheerleader but since then I have fallen out of an active life style. I consider myself a couch potato with a liking for the outdoors. (Usually watching it on TV) I’ve tried a variety of different activities from biking, hiking, kayak/coning, to just the casual stroll at the park. I also love traveling, anything from a trip to Paris, France or just for a weekend stay in Paris, Texas.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Great Raise Houston with my BFF Wayne. All through it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve have ever had, Wayne and I understand the need to be in better health. I am very close to my family and I actively participate in my nephew’s lives. I also assist in the care of my Aunt who has diabetes which is one reason I am concerned about my health. Diabetes runs in my family and I know that I can prolong this if I take care of myself with exercise and better eating habits.

I currently work for Ross Insurance Agency in Midtown, which I love! One of my perks is that it is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Memorial Park and Discovery Green. I may not be working out but I like being outside when it’s not to hot in Houston. Our next goal is the MS-150 Houston to Austin in April! Wayne and I are partnering with the Sun & Ski Sports and participating with their cycling team to train and conquer the MS-150.

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.

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.

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.