A Cycling Haven in the Hills
April 1st, 2015 by Victoria Hampton

The entrance to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus reflects the essence of the experience awaiting visitors.

Coastal Mountain Sport Haus inspired by trip to Northern Italy

By Victoria Hampton

Bassano Del Grappa in Northern Italy isknown for its bounty of white asparagus, hospitality and scenic cycling routes at the foothills of the Venetian Prealps.

Having cycled in this picturesque area in 2002 and 2004, Sandy and Glen Crinklaw wanted to recreate their experience for guests at the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus in Vernonia, Oregon.

“It is a significant part of the population’s lifestyle in that region,” Glen says of cycling. “That’s what people do. We decided to take that experience and merge it with country living.”

The Coastal Mountain Sport Haus opened for business in 2009 and began catering to cyclists looking for a taste of Italy in rural America. Guests enjoy a retreat-like setting to bike rural roads, participate in a yoga session instructed by Sandy or simply relax.

The journey to creating this retreat wasn’t a ride in the park.

Sandy and Glen lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, prior to building the sport haus. Glen worked for the city parks department and Sandy worked as a development director at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.

As Hillsboro grew, the Crinklaws decided life in the country was more appealing than the suburbs.

“We reached the opportunity to swap our urban lifestyle for a rural lifestyle,” says Glen.

The 100-acre farm in Vernonia had been owned by Sandy’s family since 1938 and was a great location for a rural homestead. The Crinklaws soon discovered zoning laws restricted them to 32 conditional uses of their property. None included a private home.

“I grew up here,” says Sandy, who had fond memories of the property from her childhood. “It didn’t feel right to walk away from the property.”

A hunting and fishing lodge was included in the list of uses. With a small change in wording, the Crinklaws were allowed to build a recreational house.

“It made us rethink how to live on the property,” says Glen.

In 2007, Glen and Sandy quit their jobs to start planning their sport haus.

“It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff,” says Glen. “We had a limited budget, but we stuck to ours pretty good.”

The sport haus took a year to build. Glen had experience building houses with his dad, which allowed the Crinklaws to do most of the construction.

“Luckily, we were the general contractors,” says Sandy. “We were also able to find the right contractors who shared our vision of what we wanted to do.”

Because of their memorable cycling experience abroad, they decided to bring an Italian twist to their retreat home. The sport haus features meals crafted for a high-protein, carbohydrate-rich cycling diet; simplistic, cozy rooms; a yoga studio; warm colors; local wood accents; an espresso bar; access to hiking and biking trails; and scenic views of an open meadow home to the Crinklaws’ Piedmontese cattle, native to Northern Italy.

Although the exterior of the house does not reflect the classic Palladian architecture found in Europe, the hospitality of their sport haus truly speaks to “what avid cyclists enjoy while on vacation,” says Glen.

“Cycling activity is paramount, and everything reflects that,” Glen says. “Rooms are simple and clean. Meals are over the top quality and quantity.”

The meals feature many local ingredients from farmers’ markets and the Portland area.

The Crinklaws incorporate yoga into their activities because of the nature of cyclists.

“Yoga adds an appreciation of place, serenity, mostly the experience of being in the country,” says Sandy.

Sandy instructs classes for guests who request them. They also facilitate yoga retreats where an outside instructor hosts a retreat for yoga enthusiasts.

The sport haus can accommodate nine people comfortably. The most the Crinklaws have had staying at one time was 16. The past five years, guests have come from Alaska to New York.

Business grows with each season, from mid-March to mid-November.

Many cyclists ride from Portland to the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, which is about a two-hour ride.

Once guests arrive, Sandy and Glen cater to their every need.

The Crinklaws say this is a great place for people to come to relax and unplug from the fast pace of an urban lifestyle.

They tell guests to “just get themselves here and everything (will be) taken care of for them,” says Sandy.

Glen says the goal of the sport haus is like most businesses: satisfied customers.

“When the guests leave, they have smiles on their faces,” says Glen.

For more information about the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, visit www.coastalmountainsporthaus.com.