Alison Jackson is a professional Cyclist, racing with team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank. In between racing and alongside her husband she spends her time following the sun all over North America in a van, with regular pauses in her hometown of Vermilion, AB, to lend a hand on the family farm and bison ranch. We caught up with Alison to find out how she was able to carve out a unique path in order to live a life she loves.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in cycling?
I began cycling at 19, when I started training for a triathlon. I raced alot of triathlons including Amateur World Championships in 2012 and 2014, but it was after graduating university, where I was on scholarship for distance running, that I chose to jump right into cycling as a profession. All I really wanted was to be a professional athlete and at the time I believe God made it possible to see that dream through with cycling. What I love about bike racing is that it is really physical, but also really tactical requiring strong and quick decision-making skills.
Every journey is special and unique. Mine started in a small town in the prairies of Alberta on a bison farm. Through faith I learned to trust in God's plan even when it took twists and turns away from what I thought was the goal. Everyday I am thankful for something. I believe that I can make any situation good with a positive attitude and a prayer.
Photo Credit Alexander Jackson
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
In the sports world I have been really inspired by my small town dance teacher. She was a big fish in a little pond but knew there was more out there that she could achieve. In order to make her dreams come true she had to work really hard, drive for hours every week to get to the best dance classes while continuing to teach and run her own dance school. She completed the highest level ballet exams when she was in her mid to late twenties while most of the girls were still in high school. She has always inspired me, proving that by working hard, and staying positive you can see your dreams come true and it doesn't matter what age you are.
What lights you up or stokes your inner fire?
Exploring new places and having new experiences. My husband got us started on the "van life" which fits both of our life values and works super well with my career as a pro cyclist.
What are your biggest career aspirations?
I have the Olympic dream. That is the one that all non-cycling sport fans understand, we all know about the Olympics and it is an event with a lot of prestige for any Canadian who gets the honour to compete. However, I race 50-60 races in a single year and it is a great honour to be on the podium at any Women's World Tour event which is a race series at the highest level in women's cycling. I get really excited dreaming about stepping onto the podium at these races too!
What habits or rituals have you set that have helped you reach your goals or been the most beneficial to your life?
I highly value the spiritual life and find that when I get into the habit of quiet time with God I am graced with peace and an eye of wonder for the stuff that make up my daily life. Also, I love to laugh. My husband certainly helps me keep perspective and can make me laugh like no one else. These things (and my husband) definitely add the most benefit to my life.
Do you have a favourite quote and why?
"Do well with what you have been given." - is something I always say, it is based on a parable from the Bible - Matthew 25, 3 people were given different amounts of money 2 of them worked with what they had to double what they started with and then were given even more, but the 3rd person didn't do anything with what they were given and in the end even that was taken away. It is my motto for life because we all have different skills, ideas, passions and are also given very different opportunities. This quote is a reminder to focus on what you can control and working hard with what you have: opportunity, relationships, skill, creativity; but also, it is a reminder to have a thankful attitude and look for the good things that are in your life right now and not to compare yourself to anyone else.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or unfocused what do you do?
Usually, I make myself have a quiet moment. Maybe that is a quiet moment with movement or just my breath to center myself and remind myself of my goals. Then, I take that peaceful feeling and tackle my tasks one by one, not thinking about the next one until the first is completed.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to reach a professional level in their sport?
Hold on to the dream fast but approach the journey loosely. We can never be sure what will come along in our personal journeys so we should take hold of every opportunity and explore where that takes you.
Are there any books or documentaries that have influenced your life or you’d recommend?
The Message by Eugene H. Peterson; ProCycling on $10 a Day by Phil Gaimon; The Chosen by Chaim Potok; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hasseni (do not read this book over Christmas holidays - I learned the hard way.)
You can follow Alison's journey on Instagram at @aliactionjackson
Header Image Photo Credit Alexander Jackson