Vail Grind riders honor Janelle
VAIL – That was for Little League, Jay.
“He used to play for Alpine Bank. I used to play for Vail Apothecary,” Dan Weiland said after Wednesday’s Vail Grind biking race. “We must have been like 6-years-old.”
And now that they are wee bit older than 6, Weiland enjoyed putting his baseball skills back on display dousing Jay Henry two out of three times in the dunk tank after the race. After all, when it comes to the bloody rivalry between Alpine Bank and the Vail Apothecary on the diamond, it puts the Giants-Dodgers or Yankees-Red Sox feuds to shame.
While the Vail Grind was latest installment in the Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Race Series, it also served as the annual Mike Janelle Memorial Race. So while racers were concerned with accumulating series points and so on, the focus was on raising money for Janelle’s family, his wife, Maribel, and their 2-year-old son, Mike Jr.
And that’s where the dunk tank entered the picture – three throws for $10, etc.
“All of us knew Mike,” Weiland said. “We want to put a little money in the pot to help his family.”
Janelle died the night after Thanksgiving 2007 of heart failure at the age of 40. During his all-too-short life, Janelle was accomplished rider, winning races like the 24 hours of Moab and Race Across America.
“We all remember Mike in our own way,” said Jake Wells, who won the men’s pro race Wednesday and celebrated by taking a shift in the dunk tank. “It’s nice that we can all get together.”
Riders came down from the finish and into Vail Square and traded memories.
Mike Gibbs raced with Janelle on the same team, the Lunar Lords of VBS (Vail Bike Service), in The 24 Hours of Moab back in 1996. That year, they finished third, followed by a second in 1997, and victory in 1998.
“Janelle was The Man. Everybody knows he was The Man,” Gibbs said. “He would crank out laps just as fast during the night as he would during the day.”
Weiland also competed with and against Janelle.
“The thing I remember about Mike was him after a race,” Weiland said. “He’d take his shirt off and enjoy it. We raced bikes, but there are more important things. There’s prize money, but that’s secondary to what we do.”
Mike Jr. was born April 7, 2008, nearly five months after his father died, and friends were more than happy to open their wallets.
“We’re all young parents. We have kids,” Gibbs said. “The biking community is tight.”
Team High Maintenance, Janelle’s team in the series, was in action after the race selling raffle tickets and operating the dunk tank.
“I’m not getting in that water,” High Maintenance’s Kim Salani said. “It’s fun to watch them get into the water, though.”
“We sold a lot of tickets,” added Paisley Frishholz, who also indicated that she would feel uncomfortable on the dunk-tank seat.
Happily, there were plenty of volunteers, including Charlie Morrow, Sarah Smith, Quinton Cook, Mike Kloser, Lori Hennessy, Josiah Middaugh, Tara Picklo, Wells, Henry, Nadine Davis, Charlie Brown and Shawna Wachter.
“It’s actually colder outside the tank than in the tank,” Wells said after his session. “You’re kind of hoping to get dunked. Water’s nice and warm.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s pro: Jake Wells
Women’s pro: Gretchen Reeves
Men’s expert: Jeremy Oliver
Women’s expert: Karen Jarchow
Men’s vet expert: Peter Fralick
Women’s vet expert: Julie Morrow
Women’s vet sport: Jerry Stimac
Men’s singlespeed: John Mark Seelig
Men’s masters sport: Eamonn Rooney
Men’s masters expert: Scott Leslie
Men’s sport: Christian Ravelo
Women’s sport: Tara Picklo
Men’s Vet sport: Scott Rogers
Women’s beginner: Renae Parks
Women’s singlespeed: Sarah Baskins
Clydesdales: Jeff Lifgren
Juniors: Clayton Davis Jr.