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June 3, 2022

Portland bike shop expands to Bethel to leverage growing bike scene

Courtesy / Allspeed Cyclery & Snow Allspeed Cyclery & Snow was founded in 1990 by Portland mountain biker Gary Buch, who was responsible for many early mountain bike trails in the area and was also an avid telemark skier and backcountry skier.

A Portland shop that rents and sells bicycles, skis and accessories is expanding to Bethel to take advantage of the expanding sports vibe in the Oxford County town.

“We’re making good progress,” said Chris Carleton, owner of Allspeed Cyclery & Snow.

The opening is scheduled for June 18.

Carleton’s company, Muscle City Investments LLC, bought a former gas station at 38 West Bethel Road from C.N. Brown Co. for an undisclosed price.

old building and truck
Courtesy / Allspeed Cyclery & Snow
Portland’s Allspeed Cyclery & Snow is expanding to Bethel with the purchase and renovation of a former gas station.

The transaction was arranged on behalf of the seller by Derek Miller and Nick Lucas of the Boulos Co. and on behalf of the buyer by Luke Malone, Joe Malone and Jennifer Small of Malone Commercial Brokers. 

“We’ve been working with Allspeed for a long time,” said Luke Malone, who took point on the buyer side of the deal. “He came to us with the property he wanted.”

Muscle City Investments is leasing the property to Allspeed.

Renovations are underway to convert the space into a retail storefront. That includes installing a new roof and gutting the interior to open it up. 

Financing for the purchase and renovations was provided by Gorham Savings Bank.

Avid bicyclist

Carleton grew up in South Paris, about 25 miles south of Bethel, and spent a lot of time riding and racing his bike in Oxford Hills. He would get his mountain bike gear from the Allspeed shop in Portland.

Finishing up college in the late 2000s, he went to work for Allspeed, which was founded in 1990 by Portland mountain biker Gary Buch.

Buch was responsible for many early mountain bike trails in the area and was also the first to lead weekly group mountain bike rides, according to the store’s website. Buch was also an avid telemark skier and was into the backcountry skiing scene decades before it hit the mainstream. 

Buch owned and operated Allspeed until the fall of 2009 when he sold it to Carleton and Mike Davies.  

person on bike
Courtesy / Allspeed Cyclery & Snow
Chris Carleton is a long-time cyclist whose third cycle and ski shop will be in Bethel.

Under Carleton and Davies’ tenure, Allspeed has continued to operate at 127 Marginal Way in Portland. In 2017, they opened a seasonal outlet in Carrabassett Valley, at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.

The Marginal Way operation has 3,000 square feet of space and offers bike and ski sales, rentals, service and repair, and apparel. The branch also hosts events such as a Tuesday night ride series.

On the ski side of its business, Allspeed specifically serves the backcountry ski market.

“It’s a niche and something we’re known for,” Carleton said. 

Backcountry consists of folks who don’t necessarily want to use a chairlift to go skiing.

“They head to areas that might not even have a chairlift. They make their own way up the mountain,” he said. 

The practice needs specific gear that mimics cross-country skis. For example, the skis have scales on the bottom that provide a better grip on the snow.

Backcountry skiing grew the first year of the pandemic because ski resorts were shut down, he said.

Modestly priced

In Bethel, he originally wanted to rent.

“I looked in that area for a while,” he said. “Then I found this location. It was modestly priced and I put a low offer in and didn’t think much of it. The sellers came back and said they were interested in selling. We took it from there.”

The location’s advantages include proximity to multiple trail systems, including those at nearby Pine Hill and Bethel Community Forest.  

interior renovations
screenshot Courtesy / Allspeed Cyclery & Snow
Interior renovations are underway for the new Bethel location, with a grand opening scheduled on June 18.

“Anytime you can have a bike shop that’s next to a trail system is a good thing,” he said.

Carleton has regularly frequented Bethel over the years and saw it as an opportunity for the business.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the biking infrastructure there — lots of new trails and also a lot of new riders,” he said. “So it seems like the right market for us to expand into. I grew up about half an hour away, so I’m excited to have it come full circle.”

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