8-2-19 Basch-Megabowl downhill

Shea Mulkern of Bartlett makes his way down the course during last Saturday’s Megabowl downhill race at Attitash. (MARTY BASCH PHOTO)

On the last day of his 14th year, Bartlett’s Shea Mulkern was hammering down Attitash in the valley’s only downhill race series called Megabowl.

It didn’t matter that the soon-to-be Kennett High School sophomore took a digger on the final turn of his first run during the best of two downhill competition.

Undaunted, he just headed up the lift to take this second turn.

He won his division.

He also happened to be the only rider in his 17 and under category.

“I like how fast downhill is and how intense it is,” he said. “The feeling you get is like nothing else.”

Nearly 20 riders from across New England including several locals with a need for testing gravity turned out for the first of three Megabowl races this summer at the Bartlett ski resort.

The race attracted amateurs and pros, including some Eastern State Cup competitors. Winners in the amateur division took home prizes from Monster, Vittoria, Eastern Mountain Sports and Frontside Grind while pros got cold cash — $200 for first, $100 second and $50 third.

Magabowl is the rebranded descendant of the Double Down series and features a trophy — a large bowl on a pedestal — on display at the mountain’s Dirt Trax Bike Shop.

Stage two of the series features enduro racing Aug.10-11 at Bear Peak followed by a downhill and enduro weekend Sept. 21-22. Enduro features racers going up and down the mountain in timed stages.

“We have a good mix of riders coming in to do enduro,” said race coordinator Corey Madden. “We have a good mix doing the downhill as well but we seem to be growing quickly with the enduro. We just started it last year and it really drew quite a few people out.”

Adam Delonais is a Megabowl regular.

“The terrain here is pretty steep which is really fun,” said the Bartlett mountain biker. “It is kind of unlike any other place with its soil type which is really loose and sandy which is cool.”

For the competition, riders get in some practice time. After that, it’s go time. Chatting with them, it seems they go full bore each time though they may pick up some nuances that will help on the second run.

“You just think about where you are going to do everything, where you are going to set up for things and then try to make it happen your first run,” said Delonais, an Attitash employee. “If you don’t you just give it even more in the next one.”

He equated downhill mountain biking with skiing.

“This is as close as you can get to skiing in the summer,” he said. “There’s no other way that you can get down a mountain as fast as on a mountain bike.”

Looking ahead to the enduro, Delonais says that’s tougher.

“It’s called an enduro for a reason,” he said. “You definitely have to work for it.”

Delonais worked the downhill too, taking third in the men’s pro division won by Isaac Allaire of Morrisville, Vt. The top men’s amateur rider was Chris Potosky of Kearsarge. There were no female competitors.

Mulkern raced in the Double Down series and goes downhill now full-time. He even sold his trail bike two days before his 15th birthday.

“I just try and go as fast as I can and put 100 percent in when I go down,” he said. “I like the speed and how technical it is. I used to watch videos here when I was in the sixth grade and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.’ It looks so cool.”

North Woodstock’s Travis Kelley competed in the pro division and has raced at Attitash before.

“I just like how this place is real downhill biking,” he said. “It’s got rough, raw and gnarly stuff. They always do a good time here.”

Want to give downhill a shot? Last year, Attitash, known for its challenging lift-service downhill mountain biking terrain, unveiled a machine-built less taxing run called Route 302.

“It brings you back and forth across the mountain,” Madden said. “This opened up a whole new world for us. We used to have to turn people away.”

The mountain now offers lessons in downhill mountain biking as well and has cross-country terrain outside the Grand Summit Hotel and by Thorne Pond along the Saco River for those wanting not to take bikes on a chairlift.

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