Jackson resumed training locally this spring, biking through Vermilion, Kitscoty, Marwayne, among others.
Vermilion’s Alison Jackson has been cycling professionally for the past six years, and is now one of 14 female athletes with Team Sunweb, who are currently ranked first in the UCI Women’s World Tour.
The team is based in the Netherlands, but this year Jackson only had one race before the season got put on hold due to the pandemic.
“I think as an athlete, we have already learned to be incredibly adaptable to roll with the extreme highs and lows of the sport,” said Jackson.
She said this enabled her to shift her goals quickly.
Jackson spent her down time the past few months in Vermilion, enjoying time with family while continuing to train and explore other hobbies. Her training involves cycling an average of 150 kilometres almost every day.
Now back overseas, she participated in a team training camp in the Netherlands and Austria. Jackson will continue racing in Europe until November.
“The wide array of sports I did while growing up in Vermilion, along with all the outdoor activity time I had on the farm provided a really good fitness base for me to build on when I decided to specialize in cycling in university,” said Jackson.
She said she’s always had the mindset to win, and recognized early that the more she practised with her best effort everyday, the more she was successful. Jackson said she continues to approach her sport the same way today.
Jackson said people may not see many (or any) bike racers around their area, but that is only one way of riding.
“Cycling, aka riding bikes, is something for everyone and can be done anywhere,” said Jackson.
“Riding bikes can be a way for the whole family to get outside and get a bit of exercise. Any bike will do.”
Jackson said people can find cheap bikes or more specialized ones, and can look for ones made for grassy trail rides or a road bike for the paved roads. She said either option will work to try on all the gravel roads in the area.
“I used to only ride on the paved roads, but then I was always doing the same loops,” said Jackson.
“It was only this summer that I had a lot of time at home when I started exploring all the gravel farm roads. Now my rides are 50-80 per cent gravel and it is amazing the beautiful places I am discovering that I never knew were around,” said Jackson.
She has biked different routes to Mannville, Irma, Wainwright, Edgerton, Paradise Valley, Kitscoty, Marwayne, and Clandonald. She said there are so many different ways to arrive at these communities, and that her favourite ride this year was to the Marwayne Trestle Bridge.
“What is awesome with cycling is that you don’t have to jump into a 150 kilometer ride, but every ride you can challenge yourself in a new way,” said Jackson.
“Maybe the first ride is only in the neighbourhood. The next ride, maybe you decide to go further or try a trail or gravel road to experience. Maybe the experience is surprising or hard or easier than you thought, but you can feel good that you accepted and overcame the challenge.
“I think sport, and especially cycling, builds confidence in your own independence. You learn how to prepare for yourself – food and water for a ride, and how to manage flat tires or unexpected weather changes, which all builds your confidence and independence.”