COLUMBIA — The members of Pfood Man Racing mountain biking team laughed and joked with each other while waiting for the mountain bike race to start at the Show-Me State Games Sunday morning at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
When asked if they were family, members of the team laughed.
"Yeah, you could say something like that," Scott Vaccaro, from Kirkwood, said, even though he had only one blood relative on the team.
A bell rang, and the racers took off, encouraged by cheers from families and friends as well as the volunteers at the event. They rounded a corner and disappeared into some woods only to reappear one or two at a time about an hour later on the other side of the field, welcomed by more cheering and another bell.
Vaccaro and his sister Lisa White referred to the rest of the team as their family.
"We spend a lot of time together," White said. "We became like family. Now when we see each other on the trail, we are always encouraging each other."
Vaccaro and White became interested in mountain biking four years ago through friends. This is White's second year at the Games, and Vaccaro's first.
The team's unusual name comes from the man who started the team, Ralph Pfremmer. Pfremmer owned a catering company and, because of his last name, put the "P" in "Pfood Man," Tina Nichols, from Wildwood, said.
Nichols' two children raced for Pfood Man on Sunday. Her son, Drew, 8, was the youngest biker on the team.
Drew got into mountain biking when his older sister Maddie, 14, showed an interest in the sport.
"He wanted to be like his sister," Nichols, said.
Maddie Nichols started the sport because of her physical education teacher, who taught her.
"She came home (saying), 'I want to go to mountain biking camp,'" Nichols said. "I was just like, 'What's that?'"
The rest, she said, was history.
Drew has been mountain biking for three years, and has participated in the Games each year.
Outside of mountain biking, the racers share an interest in other outdoor activities, such as baseball for Drew, running for both Vaccaro and White, and basketball for White. Vaccaro also participated in triathlons before he got into mountain biking and BMX when he was younger.
Supervising editor is Joe Guszkowski.