Pro biker Janelle remembered as great friend
AVON ” Mike Janelle was already well known as an elite bike racer, a dedicated ski instructor and a great friend.
He couldn’t wait to be a father, too.
“I just had Thanksgiving dinner with him last night, and we were toasting to life,” said friend Chico Thuon. “He was just getting into his next chapter, and he was psyched to do it.”
Janelle, an Avon resident, died unexpectedly at his home Friday. He was 40. His wife, Maribel, is pregnant with their first child.
Janelle was a world-renowned pro bike racer who has been part of winning teams in the Race Across America and the 24 Hours of Moab. He raced both road bikes and mountain bikes around the country and the world.
“Mike enjoyed the camaraderie, the travel, he just enjoyed being on a bike,” said friend Chris Doyle. “He loved to ride.”
Michael Paul Janelle was born June 7, 1967, in Chicksha, Okla. Part Kiowa and Choctaw, he was proud of his Native American heritage. He grew up in Colorado and Iowa, and had lived in Eagle County for 23 years.
Doyle got to know Janelle when they raced together as teenagers. Janelle ended up living with the Doyles in Eagle-Vail for 10 years.
“He really was like my son,” said Bob Doyle, Chris’ father. “Mike doesn’t have any enemies. Just a wonderful guy. Always had a great attitude. Loved bike racing. Every time he was in a race, he was happy.”
Janelle, competing with the Beaver Creek team, won the Race Across America, a more-than-3,000-mile course across the continent, in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He won the 24 Hours of Moab pro duo division with Nat Ross this year and with Jay Henry in 2005. Janelle raced for the Tokyo Joe’s/Gary Fisher team.
“One of the best bike racers in the world,” Ross said. “So passionate about it that he rode his bike all the time, even the middle of the winter.”
Janelle taught both skiing and snowboarding at Beaver Creek in the winter. He would ride his bike from Wildwood to Beaver Creek to teach.
“No matter what the weather,” said friend Kelli Anthony Rohrig. “It’s a miracle that he wasn’t ever smushed in the roundabout. … He just loved to be on a bike.”
Janelle made lasting connections with his students on the hill, Thuon said.
“He was more than their ski instructor,” he said. “He was part of their family.”
Friends described Janelle as compassionate, giving and free-spirited, a person of great integrity who never wavered in his dedication to his loved ones.
“Just a very charismatic guy,” Thuon said. “Never told you about his problems. Always listened, an amazing listener. Took the time to listen to you and give you a hug if you needed it.”
Chris Doyle said Janelle was nothing if not a free spirit.
“He didn’t want to conform to anything he didn’t believe in,” Doyle said.
Janelle is survived by his wife, Maribel Avila Janelle; his parents, Jack and Lynda “Lynne” Janelle of Yarnell, Ariz.; his brother Jeremy Janelle and his sister-in-law Leah; his nephew, Judah, and his niece, Seven; and grandparents Chlotiea and Dixon Palmer of Oklahoma.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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