Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Led by cofounders Dave Appel and Trey Steele, Cycle Camp USA's dedicated community helps riders navigate Austin's paved trails and push one another to extend personal limits and cover new ground. While working with students, Steele shares techniques that placed him among the top five in his age group at the North Carolina Triathlon Series. Avid racer and enthusiastic instructor Allison Atkinson also works with cyclists through CycleFit classes. The comprehensive training curriculum developed by Appel and his staff integrates a balance of core fitness pillars, such as heart rate, endurance, and maintaining speed when being pursued by coyotes on rocket skates. The community also encourages cyclists to test newfound abilities on destination trips, which pit packs of riders against picturesque ribbons of open road.
Barton Springs Bike Rental outfits fun seekers for bike rides across Austin's historic pathways and scenic landscapes. The shop dispenses single-speed beach cruisers to riders along with lights, baskets, locks, and access to roadside assistance in the event of a flat tire or never-ending parade of ducklings crossing the road. The crew's routes include the 90-minute Peace, Love & Zilker Tour—an easy jaunt past sights such as the Auditorium Shores, the old railroad bridge, and Barton Springs Pool—and the Congress Avenue Bat Tour, an evening trek to witness the world's largest colony of urban bats. Guides narrate the history and significance of local sights, giving guests plenty of opportunities to stop and snap pictures or refill their bicycle’s feedbag.
EpicSUP's commitment to sustainability can be seen the moment you arrive at the company headquarters—a floating dock on Lady Bird Lake. The roofed structure is made of wood reclaimed from century-old farmhouses and barns, and this eco-friendly flourish carries over to the outpost's selection of responsibly crafted ecoBoards. The paddleboards are issued in standard, touring, and racing models, and come with a paddle for propelling yourself across the water and staving off all the fish trying to catch a free ride. In addition to rentals and sales, EpicSUP also offers lessons with coaches certified by the Academy of Surf Instructors.
For a city so far from the coast, Austin has a lot of waterways. Austin Paddle Sports takes advantage of this, setting up shop on Lady Bird Lake in Downtown Austin. There, they offer sales and rentals of stand-up paddleboards from the likes of Riviera Paddlesurf and Quickblade Paddles.
For those new to the quickly growing sport, Austin Paddle Sports uses entry-level stabilized, user-friendly equipment for beginners, and specialized displacement hull race boards for the experienced paddler. Staff is always available for a few tips to keep everyone upright and dry.