By Jared Eborn
Nicky Wangsgard saw the writing on the wall. After years of racing her bicycle and winning races all across the country it might be time to walk away and call it a career.
But Wangsgard, who grew up in Ogden and calls Cedar City home, had no real interest in walking away from bike racing. No, Wangsgard – despite her team essentially folding – knew she had plenty of life left in her legs and in her heart.
So what did Wangsgard do? She stepped forward with a dream, a few friends and boundless energy – the same energy that’s seen her land on the top step of National Racing Calendar races for the better part of a decade.
“The team was ending unless I stepped in and planned a mission with no money. I was a public school special educator for years. I know what it’s like to do a lot with very little.”
Wangsgard, who raced for the Primal-May My Ride team for the past couple of seasons, called on her former sponsors, relied on faith and launched an ambitious but admittedly risky project.
The Primal Pro Women’s Cycling Team was born.
But without a lot of funding from sponsors, the team is approaching the season with a unique plan of action.
With Wangsgard – an assistant professor at Southern Utah University – leading the way, the small group of experienced racers is equal parts racing and education with a strong emphasis on trying to get grassroots support to help fund the season.
At various races the team will attend, they’ll rely on the kindness of the cycling community for help while also conducting cycling clinics – geared toward women and girls but open to anyone – to grew the future of the sport that has given so much to the team members.
These clinics will help underwrite the expenses that come with travel to and racing at high-level events.
Wangsgard, who is generally regarded as one of the best sprinters in the nation, is bringing the same gusto to her new project as she does to the final lap of a criterium.
“So far stressful. I’ve maxed out two of my own personal credit cards because I believe in our mission and the girls needed gear. I’m investing in a mission that I believe in,” Wangsgard said. “If we can find sponsors and raise donations throughout season and I can come out even financially, I’ll be happy. But even if we don’t, I will be happy because we will have planted the cycling seed in everyone we meet as we host cycling clinics through out the country. We are excited for our first clinic in Tucson in early march, which will be held on Friday night and Saturday morning. Shortly after the clinic, we will race the pro event, and model what we preached.”
Knowing finances will be tight regardless of the attendance at those clinics, Wangsgard is getting creative in her funding.
Using online fundraising website GoFundMe, the Primal Pro Women are soliciting donations from this interested in seeing the project success. Donations, with information about various rewards for donors, can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/primalprowomen.
Online donations haven’t blown the roof off the project yet, but the season is young and Wangsgard is hoping to see the momentum pick up as the racing calendar gets busy.
“We have raised approximately $550. A great start. We have also found some important product sponsors (Primalwear, BH, Enzo’s Button Hole, Enve (a Utah company), Lizard Skins (a Utah company), Sidi, Herbalife, Progold, Smith Optics, Retul) who believe in our mission.”
Some of the biggest expenses, however, will be travel related. Wangsgard said it’s going to be a challenge each race to get all the gear and racers from several locations around the country to the start line.
“Transportation at the races will be difficult since we don’t have a race vehicle this year.” Other difficulties will be, “Money for travel expenses, mechanical support if we need something major done to our bikes, and balancing time for clinic and race needs. We believe that we can tackle these challenges,” she said. “These are challenges that every female cyclist deals with. Let’s face it…female professional cyclists, even on the large budgeted teams, are broke. We are all creatively supporting our passion and love for the sport in alternative ways. We decided to creatively support out passion as a team.”
Primal Pro Women’s Cycling Team’s lineup will be Kori Seehafer, Utah rider Tiffany Pezzulo, Joanie Caron, Melina Bernicker, and Nicky Wangsgard. The team will focus on the USA Crits National Criterium Series. Wangsgard will use her high finishing speed to act as a leadout for the other women.
Wangsgard and Pezzulo will also race locally with the Rooster’s/Biker’s Edge squad where they will act as coaches and mentors.
Primal Pro Women’s Cycling Team
Watch the USA Crits races live at usacrits.com.