Cyclocross

Alison Jackson wants you to be brave enough to be bad at something

The Canadian road race and time trial champion talks about making people laugh and celebrating the successes in life.

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Alison Jackson wants people to be confident in being bad at something.

The Canadian time trial and road race champion wants people to be brave enough to try something new and not shy away from it for fear of failure. It doesn’t have to be anything too scary.

With that in mind, Jackson is trying out competitive cyclocross for the first time this winter and is riding at the national championships next week. The 33-year-old might be a pro bike rider but swapping tarmac for mud has pushed her out of her comfort zone.

Also read: Alison Jackson wants a spring classics win in 2022

“I want to embody that and encourage other people to do the same,” Jackson told VeloNews. “So, I’m going to race nationals in January. It’s almost embarrassing, because I’m totally going to be last, and normally I’m used to being close to the front or winning. But, I just think, what a valuable lesson for all people of all ages.

“You’re going to be bad at something new, and you keep going. You see where you can take it and don’t give up straight away just because you’re bad. All these things are skills that are acquired and learned, and there’s a value in keeping trying.”

Jackson did her first cyclocross race at the Valley Cross event in Aldergrove in November and it was an experience she’ll remember for a while, for good reasons as well as the crashes. For someone so used to being at ease on the bike, it was a fun way to try something different.

“I crashed a bunch of times,” Jackson laughed. “I’d been at this event all day and I was heckling people to take the beer handoffs. So, obviously, when I come into the race there was even more pressure on me to take beer handouts. I always say that I’m an entertainer on and off the bike. I love racing for fans, creating entertainment, and making it interesting and exciting.

“I was taking all the beer hand-ups and then there’s this set of stairs… I had tried to practice to ride up them, but I never made it all the way. In the race, I was trying to ride up and I was crashing but it’s all for the entertainment of others.”

As part of her attempt to get people to try something new, Jackson wants to set a little challenge on her social media for people to have a go during the week of the Canadian cyclo-cross nationals. The project is in partnership with her team’s main sponsor Liv, which has a base in Canada.

“What I want to do is post a TikTok challenge. I’m being bad at something new, or brave enough to try cyclocross, and I want to challenge other people to be brave enough to try a dance with me or whatever.”

@aliactionjacksonMerry Christmas ##jinglebells ##Christmas ##livcommitted ##Liv ##Brava ##cx ##christmasbike ##bikelife DC: @cost_n_mayor♬ Last Christmas (Remastered) – Wham!

From bike rider to TikTok influencer

The majority of top-level bike riders have some sort of social media these days, but Jackson is one of the few who has a TikTok page. For those unfamiliar with the app, it is a video-led app where users can post clips that range from 15 seconds to three minutes.

She started the account at the end of 2019, and it features short dance routines and footage from races, among other things. Most of the videos are solo, but she has persuaded many of her teammates to join in over the years.

Jackson currently has a little more than 3,600 followers on TikTok. While that is a far lower number compared to her over 13,000 followers on Instagram — where she also shares her videos — it’s a growing one. For Jackson, it’s not about the numbers but having a bit of fun and showing her silly side, while also making people laugh.

“Since I was a kid, I loved making little videos and being silly. When the TikTok app came out, I was like ‘this is so perfect,’” Jackson explained. “I really got into it during COVID because I was basically at home so much, alone and in Europe, and I needed to make myself laugh. So, I was doing all these things. I was laughing, I thought it was so funny that I just wanted to share it with other people.

“I would cope with things by having some laughter and it was received so well. I love sharing it in the community that it created. I just started doing them for myself, and even now I love creating the tasks or videos, so while I’m creating them it’s not a chore.”

@aliactionjacksonBEER ME ##friends ##girlfriends ##beerme ##duet ##alberta @stephbirdybird ##hometown♬ Girlfriend – Charlie Puth

While most of Jackson’s are about being a bit silly and having a laugh, some of them have a more earnest side — like her effort to get people to go a little outside their comfort zone.

One of the more earnest clips is a compilation video from November where she is high-fiving a friend. It’s all about stopping and taking in the good moments and celebrating achievements, something she feels passionately about.

“For athletes, we’re always trying to do the next thing you or make the next goal and sometimes we don’t really feel the successes we have, and it can be fleeting,” Jackson told VeloNews. “You might win a race and the next week you go to another race and somehow you forget you had won that race before and you second guess your value or if you’re good enough.

“If we, in the small moments, can encourage ourselves and think ‘yes’ and feel the success then you take that feeling into all of your next things, and it builds. It’s like a small habit or practice of self-affirmation to build confidence in yourself. If you keep moving onto the next thing and the next thing then you might look back and not even remember these things and really your life has been riddled with these moments of success.”

View Jackson’s TikTok channel and follow Alison Jackson’s Instagram.