Saturday April 19th 2014
Winter Guide

Mattress, meet mountain: Mattress Races at Shawnee Peak

By: Shannon Bryan

America’s Mattress Race

Mar 23 | Shawnee Peak, Bridgton | $5 mattress fee plus lift ticket

Mattresses were once limited in use. You slept on them. That was it.

Sometimes you used them like trampolines, but only in rooms without ceiling fans.

You may have used a mattress to build a fort or to hide cash. You might have cunningly tucked “adult reading material” in the hidden confines of a mattress’ undercarriage, and perhaps you once thought to use a mattress as safety equipment when not-so-smartly jumping off the roof.

Thanks to the diversity of potential uses, mattresses thrived for decades.

But oh, how the pillow-top fall.

Along comes Mr. Memory Foam, with his reach-out-and-touch-me polyurethane build. Guy’s got a memory like an elephant and the welcoming demeanor of a Jet-Puffed marshmallow. His girlfriend thinks he’s tops because doesn’t wake her in the middle of the night when he gets up to pee. He’s stable like that.

How does a mattress with coils for a brain even compete?

He branches out, that’s how. Into downhill sports.

During the America’s Mattress Race, mattresses of all sizes will take to the mountain at Shawnee Peak. They’ll shirk their once-sedentary lifestyle for a chance to make like a toboggan and slide Shawnee’s Main Slope — with a few riders on top clutching the edges in high-speed fear.

Teams are encouraged to drag out their old twin, double, queen or king. There’s a four-person maximum on the mattress, but no limit to your decorative genius. You can even wrap it in plastic for extra speed — but no skis or anything that will elevate it.

No air mattresses or waterbeds, either. This race was made for mattresses with coil-spring hearts and an upholstered physique.

The course is about 150 to 200 yards in length, and mattress speeds have been known to reach 35 mph. Helmets, understandably, are required. There’s also plenty of hay and a barrier at the finish line to prevent any mattresses from sledding off into the parking lot.

The race winner gets a new queen-sized mattress and box spring from America’s Mattress and Furniture Gallery (though I wouldn’t mention that to the old mattress until after the race. It’d just depress him).

Shawnee Peak will even dispose of all the mattresses after the race, which beats the alternative: leaving the mattress by the curb to sag and mold in the spring rain.

Helmet cam: