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Shannon Bryan

mainetoday.com editor Shannon Bryan has a fondness for Maine’s peculiar goings on. And helmet cams. There’s definitely a fondness for helmet cams.   Since she arrived in Maine from the Midwest seven years ago, it’s been her mission to experience it all firsthand – from the cardboard boat races to the paddleboard jousting tournaments. With any luck, she’ll persuade you to try it, too.

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Posted: March 9, 2014

Your bed is a sled: Mattress Race at Shawnee Peak, Bridgton

Written by: Shannon Bryan - mainetoday.com editor - sbryan@mainetoday.com

Mattresses aren’t known for their speed.

No one climbs aboard a queen size to get to Boston on the weekend, and people don’t “put the pedal to the pillow top” in a rush to get to work.

Instead mattresses tend to be judged for comfort over miles-per-hour. And frankly, their immobility is generally considered one of their best features (because who wants to wake up from a nap to find they’ve been rapidly transported a few towns over? Or worse: Another state!).

But every now and then a mattress is born with unmattresslike powers. Every now and then a mattress dreams beyond the limitations of its own non-aerodynamic shape, its cumbersome weight, its lack of wheels.

Every now and then a mattress goes racing.

The America’s Mattress Race at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton gives that rare breed of innerspring a chance to reach speeds most mattresses can’t even fathom. We’re talking upwards of 30 miles-per-hour (might not sound like much, but that’s 30 miles-per-hour faster than the bed you woke up on this morning). In addition to the friendly competition, mattresses also have an opportunity to meet other like-minded twins, fulls, queens and kings.

The annual event draws teams of 2 to 4 people and mattresses of all sizes to the slippery course on Shawnee Peak’s Main Slope. While the course changes every year, it’s generally around 200 feet long, according to Rachael Wilkinson, director of marketing at Shawnee Peak. The speed of the snow on the day of the race has a lot to do with how the course shapes up, she said. No one wants mattresses launching into the nearby parking lot.

What everyone does want: A unique downhill experience that gets mattresses out of the house and teams onto the mountain. Preferably in costume.

“The course is different every year,” said Wilkinson. “Last year we actually had a jump on the course. It’s hysterical to watch.”

Team Spring Loaded (Eddie Grace, Noelle Veillette, Catherine Menousek and Amy McGurk, left to right) takes to the air while competing in the 6th annual Mattress Race at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton in 2013. Press Herald file photo

This year’s America’s Mattress Race takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday. There’s a $5 “mattress fee” to participate in the race, and racers will also need to have a lift ticket for the day or a season pass. There are a few rules, too: No waterbeds or air mattresses are allowed, everyone must wear a helmet and participants must be 18 or older, or have a parent sign for them. As for the team themes and costuming? That’s a free-for-all. Lively team names and ensembles are encouraged – in fact, there’s a prize for the most uniquely decorated mattress. Of course there’s also a prize for the team with the fastest mattress. They’ll get a new king-sized mattress from America’s Mattress & Furniture Gallery. This way winners will have a mattress to sleep on at home while their racing mattress dedicates itself to year-round training.

They key to mattress speed? Only previous winners know for sure. “Wrapping the mattress in plastic is key,” said Wilkinson. “A lot of them do put some sort of sliding lubrication on,” but no one’s revealing specifics.

There’s only one way to know how fast a mattress will go. Someone needs to ride it down a mountain. And should a team decide not to bring their mattress back home with them (because it underperformed, or because the mattress race was a final hurrah for a piece of bedroom furniture that no longer served its purpose), Shawnee Peak will properly dispose of it for you.

Whatever the outcome, the race is a wonderfully uncommon experience that the mattresses and the riders won’t soon forget.

“And it’s just fun,” said Wilkinson. “It’s like a big sloppy sled ride, a thrill on snow and something different to do.”

And the mattresses love it.

For more information: www.shawneepeak.com

Watch Team Tank nearly overshoot the course:

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