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Riding high: testing endurance and equipment in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains

Riding high: testing endurance and equipment in Colorado's San Juan Mountains

(Image credit: Andy Cochrane) Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just north of Durango, Colorado, lies the San Juan Mountains, a breathtaking playground…

Wednesday, Nov 08

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(Image credit: Andy Cochrane) Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just north of Durango, Colorado, lies the San Juan Mountains, a breathtaking playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Forged by volcanic activity and shaped by majestic glaciers, the San Juans are a labyrinth of snow-capped peaks, pristine alpine lakes, winding rivers and trails, and wildflower-strewn meadows.

Tucked away in the heart of this high alpine valley sits Opus Hut , a rustic mountain cabin that serves as a welcoming refuge for weary bikers, hikers, and skiers. The hut sits at nearly 12,000 feet, and getting there requires tackling the rocky surface and grinding ascent up Ophir Pass road. Opus Hut Opus Hut and the ‘nearby’ Columbine Lake were the destinations for a 3.5-day, self-supported bikepacking trip with Fjällräven this summer. The Swedish brand was dropping its latest bike collection in collaboration with Specialized, and was using this bike trip as the ultimate field test.

The route was devised by bikepacker extraordinaire Sarah Swallow , and came with enticing descriptors such as "fun sufferfest" and "hard miles."

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When details followed closer to our rollout from Durango, it read something like this:

– "Approximately half of the ride exists at altitudes over 10,000 ft. We will be camping at 11,100ft and 11,700ft altitude for two nights, with a first night camp at 7,500 ft to acclimate."

"This route has more climbing than descending.""Ophir Pass is pretty much a 1.5-2 hour hike-a-bike.""There will likely be monsoons at this time of year, so we need […]

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