Imagine strapping forty pounds on your back, climbing over 3,000 feet up Baldy, donning paragliding equipment, launching off the mountain, and aiming for a two-foot, circular target. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of the upcoming Third Annual Dave Bridges Mountain Race. (The target, by the way, is a loaf of Bigwood Bread.)
The race is part of the yearly Sun Valley Paragliders’ Fly-In, held the third week of March. Spectators are welcome to join in the fun at both the Kick-Off Party and the Awards Ceremony at Bigwood Bread in Ketchum. In between, they can watch aerobatic paragliding displays and see top-ranked paragliding pilots compete in spot-landing contests. Onlookers whose appetite is whetted by watching can glide through the air on commercial tandem flights offered by Fly Sun Valley, the local paragliding company.
The race itself begins and ends at River Run Lodge at the base of Bald Mountain. From there, paragliders head up the mountain, carrying flying gear in packs on their backs. At the top of Baldy they begin their descent, aiming for the loaf of Bigwood Bread at the mountain’s base. Two factors determine the winner: the total time elapsed from the start of the climb to the finish of the flight, and the accuracy of the landing. Every foot away from the target costs the competitor thirty seconds.
The Fly-In is hosted by Sun Valley Paragliders. The local paragliding club organized the race in memory of Dave Bridges, an avid paraglider and one-time Ketchum resident who died in an avalanche in Nepal.
For more information contact Chuck Smith of Fly Sun Valley at 208.726.3332. Additional information is available on the event’s website, www.flysunvalley.com. Wolf Reihle, owner of Bigwood Bread, can also answer your questions.
Marcia Mode-Stavros left Wisconsin for the Wood River Valley eleven years ago. In addition to working as a writer and event organizer, she and her husband Leo love hiking, traveling, and enjoying Idaho’s majestic natural beauty.