Will Hoffarth's path to competitive cycling can be traced to the used, rebuilt mountain bike his parents bought him 12 years ago.
Wanting to keep up with his son's new equipment, his father, Rick, soon bought a brand new version of the same bike for himself.
You might say they had bicycles built for two.
Though the Hoffarths were kindred spirits in their early father-and-son recreational rides, those two bicycles, and their riders, eventually went down different bike paths.
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Rick and Will are still both very serious about cycling these days, though they've converted from mountain bikes to road bicycles.
Rick, 51, is an amateur who mostly competes in masters races for Charlotte's Giordana Clif-Bar racing team. Will, 24, tours the country as a professional cyclist for Team Mountain Khakis.
The Hoffarths started riding together when they lived in Johnson City, Tenn., when Will was just a toddler. Rick's job as a pastor bounced the family around a bit, and the Hoffarths' cycling led them down the two-lane country roads of Locust, on the Cabarrus-Stanly county line, when they moved to North Carolina in 1993.
After they traded in their basic bikes for their advanced mountain bikes when they moved to Harrisburg in 1998, the Hoffarths found out about a private mountain bike trail on Poplar Tent Road in Concord, near Interstate 85. Rick said Will used to follow him on the trail, until Will got into his mid-teens, "when it became dad following Will."
For two years, Will attended Concord High, where he was introduced to the Poplar Tent trail by a friend. He finished his final two years of high school at Concord Robinson.
There were plenty of times when Rick would pick up Will from school with the bikes attached to the car and drive straight to the trails. Will would change into his cycling clothing during the car ride.
"Not too many people (friends) were into cycling," Will said. "It was like my own personal thing. It's what I liked to do."
Near the end of his junior year, Will learned of the Charlotte Mountain Bike Series, held by Charlotte Sports Cycling and its leader, Neal Boyd. Will won four of his six races in the 16- to 18-year old division, and soon Boyd was asking him to join the Giordana-Clif Bar team.
Will and Rick soon employed Charlotte's Chad Andrews as their coach. He quickly turned Will into a road cyclist. Will rapidly climbed the amateur ranks and turned pro last year.
Professional cycling has various ability levels, just like other pro sports. During his first season, for example, Will's team provided him only with travel expenses, team clothing, shoes, a bike and a helmet.
Life off the road was mostly supported by his family. But this year, Will receives a monthly stipend, which is still not enough to make a living.
Speaking by phone from Silver City, N.M., the latest stop on USA Cycling's National Race Calendar, Will explained that Team Mountain Khakis is a developmental team based in Winston-Salem. He aspires to sign with a team one day that can pay him a salary.
Rick tried five years of racing mountain bikes before switching to road racing three years ago. He is a Category 4 racer, putting him in the lower half of ranked amateurs, and competes mostly in races between North Carolina and South Carolina.
Will's schedule will slow down by the end of this month. He plans to head back to Harrisburg to spend time at home during the circuit's June dead period. He will resume his part-time job at a Harrisburg coffee shop and will take an occasional bike ride with his father.
"I tell people Will and I rode through his adolescence," Rick said. "He could have gone through any number of things, but when the school bell rang, he said, 'I'm going riding with my dad.' I thought how lucky am I to get to do something this exciting and this much fun with my son."