As the world rolls by, it quiets down. At the same time, the body shifts to a higher drive, muscles flexing, blood pumping, mind racing. When Shey Lindner hops onto a bike, he can take stock of life.
"Cycling to me is a way to quiet things, a way to think, to work out frustrations," he said. "Life's going through my mind. I'm thinking about stress, goals, family, just everything."
Lindner has been riding and racing competitively since 1996, the year the Olympics came to Atlanta and the nearby Georgia International Horse Park. Lindner grew up racing motorbikes in the small town of Comfort, Texas, but when he lost his job in 1994, he sold his motorcycles, which were becoming an expensive hobby. He managed to scrape together a few jobs to make ends meet.
"1994 was a pretty low point. I was working two jobs, kids were on the way, there wasn't really time to do anything," he recalled.
A year later his wife bought him a mountain bike, hoping to reinvigorate him and steer him away from the more dangerous world of motorbike racing. The first time he rode, it kicked his butt, and the bike went back on the wall for four months.
"I was out of shape, and it's not like twisting the throttle and going," Lindner said.
Seeing Olympic-level racing in his backyard drove him to start riding again and, now, at age 39 he's in the best shape of his life. When he starts something he tends to go all in, and he inadvertently dragged his whole family into the sport with him.
"(My wife) got to the point, where if she wanted to spend more time with me, she had to get involved," Lindner said.
Lindner is now an elite-level amateur, and his 16-year-old son, Jansen, has made it a goal to make the junior national team. Both are active in the local and regional competitive biking scenes, and regularly place in the top five in their respective age categories among the amateur circuit of USA Cycling.
The Lindner's are a true biking family as Shey's wife, Kari, and his oldest son, Everett, have raced at expert levels as well. Most weeks Shey will ride for 10 to 15 hours, covering up to 30 miles off road and 60 on pavement.
"Competition has always driven me. From getting on the bike, having my muscles adapt, really suffering in the heat of Georgia summers, to first thinking I was at the level to be able to race a beginner race, that sparked the competition in me," Shey said.
Shey's favorite event is the cyclocross, a one mile length off-road course where the riders have to dismount a few times and carry their bike over or around obstacles on the course. It's an exciting hybrid event that lends itself to spectators. The event is still new in Georgia, and Shey teaches cyclocross classes in the winter at his C-Town Bike and Fitness in Conyers.
He and Kari are also very involved in teaching junior mountain bikers on their CycleYouth team, which has sent kids to the world championships the last five years. Some of his favorite places to ride are the Horse Park, Dauset Trails in Jackson and the Pinhoti Trail in the North Georgia Mountains.
To learn about other great places to bike, hike, boat or swim check out The News' 2011 Summer Guide. Be sure to wave to any Lindner's you see on the trails.