Explore podcast: Long live the queen of Roubaix, Alison Jackson

The defending champ talks to us about knitting, Zamboni driving, buffalo farming, and the 2024 Paris-Roubaix

April 5, 2024

At this point, we all know who Alison Jackson is from her win at Paris-Roubaix and countless social media videos.

But today, we wanted to do a deep dive into the real Alison. She’s a pro cyclist, beloved dancer, stellar aunt, Zamboni driver, former knitter, and so much more. The 2023 Paris-Roubaix champion talks about how she’s taking a different approach to racing this season, what has changed since she hoisted that cobblestone over her head last year, and looks ahead to the 2024 edition of Roubaix this coming weekend. Plus, Alison answers YOUR questions that you sent to us on our social channels. It’s one of our favorite episodes. We hope you have as much fun listening to it as we did recording it.

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Let’s explore the world of cycling with Alison Jackson.

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Full transcript

Alison Jackson: Then when I got on the plane, then Dayna [team soigneur] was there and we both came from Girona, but not together.

Kathryn Ezra: Oh no, did one of you take the train and one of you not?

Alison Jackson: We both took the train, but she took the train at eight. I took the one at nine.

Kathryn Ezra: Oof. Sometimes though the train you want is sold out, so you then have to take the earlier train. Maybe it was a case of that?

Alison Jackson: But also, she hasn't taken the train before from Girona or whatever. I think, but I just didn't know she was even in Girona. If I had known, then I would have told her, “9.30 that's the one we're on.”

Kathryn Ezra: Let's take the train together, yeah.

Alison Jackson: Yeah.

Kathryn Ezra: How have you been? How are things?

Alison Jackson: Good, good, yeah. I had a bit of a break, a vacation, a homestay, vacation, what do we call it? Staycation? Sometimes, we're on the road so much, once we go back home, it actually feels like a vacation. You're just like, “oh, my home,” and I love my apartment in Girona, the balcony out, the view of the cathedral. So anyway, super nice. It was also nice to be super social. So, there's just a lot of life-giving moments that I'm just jazzed up and ripe for the occasion.

Kathryn Ezra: Are there any things in particular that you like to do when you've got a good chunk of time in Girona?

Alison Jackson: Oh yeah, I mean, some of it is honestly just at my apartment. I love having my coffee outside, reading a little bit but like rain, snow, cold, sun, I'm out there on the balcony. And then, there's favorite coffee places you just gotta hit up and refresh and it's fun now being in Girona so long. You're not just going to the cafe for the food and the brew, but the people are your friends! So, that part is real nice. And then, yeah, for sure catch up with a few pals. Swap some stories.

Kathryn Ezra: Did you see a lot of familiar faces over the off-season? Did you go anywhere? Did you do anything in particular?

Alison Jackson: I did a little bike tour in Nice, so just a new place to ride, and then back in Canada for most of it, which, then I just get to be a super fun aunt, and that is the joy that I have there. When I go back, I'm just a nobody. I am NOT the star. Those kids are absolutely the main characters. But I love it. I also love it because, maybe in adult spaces, people might be like, "wow, she's got too much energy. She's a bit extra." But then you take that same energy with kids and they're like, "oh, she's so good with kids."

Kathryn Ezra: She's a natural!

Alison Jackson: I'm just literally doing the same things, but it depends on what space you're in. So anyway, I love it. In my family, those kids are the only ones that can match my energy basically.

Kathryn Ezra: Do you ever wear them out? Wear out your nieces and nephews?

Alison Jackson: That is my challenge always. Does it matter to anyone else? No, but to me, that’s my challenge. Do the kids even know this? You know, adults are always the ones that say “hey, maybe we should sit down for a while.” I will never be the one who's going to break first, who needs to sit down and have a break? Those kids or me? It will never be me. I remember one time, running around with my three-year-old nephew. We're throwing the ball and then running, throwing the ball and running. And every so often now when he goes to the ball, he falls on the ground, but we keep going. Then I look down and he's got beads of sweat. And I was like, “is this okay? Do three-year-olds sweat? Is that all right?”

Kathryn Ezra: He's okay now, though?

Alison Jackson: He's fine. Oh, he's a great. We're training him up. There's also this other time. So three of my nieces and nephews were on the trampoline. And then at one point, and we've been on a trampoline all afternoon I'm in there, I'm not saying to get out. Then at one point I see all the kids are just laying in the middle and they want me to jump around and I was like, “yep, you've done it again.”

Kathryn Ezra: They're like, “Allison, you can entertain us now.” How's the season been going so far?

Alison Jackson: Yeah, so doing a little bit, different things this season. Less races and I’m more targeting big races. Of course, it's so nice to be on a team when we're winning, and we've had some early season wins. And that's super energizing and motivating and even motivating for me to see these kids get these results and be so fit. And I just think “oh man you better keep up” but I love it. So, it's a great challenge and really motivating. What more can we do and win and pull out of ourselves. Yeah. I love racing. So, to do fewer races is a bit of a heartbreak because I just want to put my hand up for everything. But I think it's also good. You gotta try new things and in order to, there's gotta be new stressors to try to push yourself and into new areas and new fitness stuff. It was great because this spring I got to go do an altitude camp at Tenerife with my teammate Noemi, and it was super fun. It's also good for the soul. In the mountains and a bit of this camp life, which I just thrive off of. You have to shut off the generator, all the lights are out, and there's no WiFi, and it's just all the stars. So, stuff like that. Love it.

Kathryn Ezra: So, when you say camp life, you don't mean team training, camp life, where there's a chef cooking for you and you've got the soigneurs giving you massages and there's DSs making schedules for you. You mean like almost going camping, very rustic. Is that right?

Alison Jackson: Yeah, totally. Yeah. Camp life. Yeah, that can be taken in different ways. Yeah camp life where all my clothes smell like campfire after. That's, that's the kind of camp life.

Kathryn Ezra: You mentioned that it's been a bit of a change this season with the new team that you're doing fewer races. Is that sort of one of the bigger adjustments that you've had so far with the new team or are there other, any other big changes that you've experienced?

Alison Jackson: Yeah, probably. That for sure. Just, different races, fewer races. So, you have to make the ones you're in count. And I've had a lot of different roles this year. I've been team captain a lot before on other teams but doing that and doing some earlier role stuff, and waiting for that shining moment like Paris-Roubaix. I love the sport that we're in. It's a team sport and when you invest in your teammates and you do such a good job for them, then, they can put in that extra bit when the roles are reversed. Just putting some good teamwork in the bank.

Kathryn Ezra: You mentioned Roubaix. Roubaix is coming up, obviously. How are you feeling coming into it?

Alison Jackson: Oh, yeah Roubaix is such a unique race that as much. I've won it before and so is it possible to win again? Absolutely, but there's so much that's out of your control in that race. I always said, if I got a clean run, no crashes and mechanicals, I could win that race and that's what happened last year. Clean run and boldness and belief in yourself and, that's what it turned out to be. I'm excited because I have a team that's super energized, that says, "hey, we're riding for a previous champion, let's do this." I think when your heart is happy, your legs are happy and you're going to have a good time and yeah, that, that's how I feel. I feel really grounded and just super jazzed up to get back in that race, wear the number one. You have to go kilometer by kilometer at that race and just keep fighting and trying to make good decisions. So, I actually don't feel a lot of pressure because I think you have to have a bit of luck and, be bold in the right moments. Anyway, it's a gritty race. I just like being a gritty rider and being a part of the action. It’s going to be a fun week leading up into that race too.

Kathryn Ezra: You don't feel much pressure, which is really great to hear, but also, I imagine there are additional demands on your time as the defending champion going into Roubaix. What does that look like? What does that mean?

Alison Jackson: Yeah. We're getting calls, DMs, and everyone wants to ride with the Paris-Roubaix champion over some cobbles. We're not riding all the cobbles every day. But I also think I have a personality that it's fine to have a lot of these social interactions because it energizes me. And I also love people and giving people a story. When I was a kid, if I could have met my sporting heroes or an Olympian, it would be a story I would tell over and over, and even for that day or week, it probably would have just been really inspiring and motivating. So, I think about that. For people meeting me, if I can give someone a great story that they tell their friends then, I'm so happy to just be a part of their life. Story collecting. I love stories. I know that it's really hard to win bike races. To win one of the biggest monuments in this cobbled world, I'm just totally letting it soak into my bones. Most times we just move on to the next goal or whatever, I just understand that it's a big accomplishment and so many people go through their whole careers and never get something like this. So, I'm counting it as all treasure.

Kathryn Ezra: There are moments though where maybe you want a little more time to yourself or space or privacy, just because you are Allison Jackson, this amazing cyclist who also dances on TikTok, as everyone likes to say. And you're a very personable and approachable person. You're very social and outgoing, but other times also when you want maybe a little more space or you always say “no, I want more.”

Alison Jackson: Yeah. I’m known as the entertainer, and I willingly step into that space so often but I need places where I gain my source of energy. It has been funny sometimes when I'm not in kit, I'm just a regular person, and then there's these moments in cycling spaces or like at world championships where I just want to go and, watch one of the other races, but when I'm out there, it's just like eyes on me the whole time and I just want to be a shadow for a little bit, but, I don't hate on it too much because I just understand the bigger picture. And I get spaces of being a nobody or playing a different role and some of that is my family time in Canada and whatever you just get on the tractor and have to do farm chores. You do your hard training and you're sitting on the couch resting and, dad comes in and says, "you're not doing anything? You could help me on the farm." Yeah, the Paris-Roubaix win or all the other things that I'm known for doesn't mean the same thing on the farm.

Kathryn Ezra: That probably keeps you a bit grounded too, when your family just thinks that you resting is just, you sitting around doing nothing, waiting for the next task.

Alison Jackson: Yep.

Kathryn Ezra: How did you get your rock home after Paris-Roubaix?

Alison Jackson: Yeah! I have it in Girona. It’s the place I spend the most of my time. It is nice having it there or always seeing it there and then having dinner guests over and getting them to pick up that rock and stuff. I think it's pretty cool. It's rare for other people to even get to see this or pick it up themselves. So, I think that's pretty cool. But yeah, I haven't sorted out quite how to get it to Canada or what that will look like, or if it's allowed. How do you fly with that? I'm not sure yet. That's a future Alison problem.

Kathryn Ezra: I can see you taking up yachting or something just to be able to sail it yourself.

Alison Jackson: Actually, that would be a great story. We get this the story of this rock from the quarry, how it got selected out to be on a trophy, the one that was rejected by all the other quarry stones, and then it becomes this champion.

Kathryn Ezra: It's the Rudolf-the-rednosed reindeer of cobbles.

Alison Jackson: Yes, exactly.

Kathryn Ezra: We'll make a claymation version of it. Like the really old, Rudolph movie.

Alison Jackson: Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Kathryn Ezra: That one's a classic. So, have things changed since winning Roubaix? Before you were known as a strong cyclist who also dances a lot. You are still a strong cyclist who also dances a lot, but have things in your life changed since winning Roubaix? We're coming up on a year of it now.

Alison Jackson: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Just, some of the recognition and whatever. But I think what it did is like, maybe there'd be questions of “oh, she doesn't take it seriously enough,” but there's a balance. You don't have to be the robot that does the science experiment exactly to be a great athlete. And you need to look at yourself, really be who you are. And if you can be who you are to the core and find all those qualities that you can pull out to get the most out of yourself, but also share the best of yourself with the world. And so, I think it really legitimized the way that I do things and that's okay and more acceptable, or that being allowed to do that or being championed for the silly side and the focus. That's allowed me to be a little bit more confident in the way that I'm doing things. And then, I think I just love that. It shows a different side of a human story in our sport. But also, it attracts people to watch the sport or be involved in cycling, whether they actually like the bike racing or not, or just the fun personalities or there's a lot of positive things about that. And it allows a whole family, when one of the parents is really into cycling, but the other one, not so much, but they will all take a lot of joy or have fun watching some of my stuff, so I like being that family connector.

Kathryn Ezra: Talk a bit about how you approach training and just being a professional athlete, because I think a lot of people who don't know you personally, they see this image of you being happy go lucky all the time, and it may seem like things just come easily to you. Yes, of course, you've put in years of work to have gotten to your Roubaix win, to have gotten to your, multiple times Canadian national champion, but I think it's probably easy for a lot of people to imagine that things just fall into place for you. Does it feel like things just fall into place? Does it feel like you've really had to work to make things happen? How do you approach all of this?

Alison Jackson: Yeah. I think my mentality always, even since I was young, comes from a farm background and it's really just about your work ethic and what you put into something. So, for sure that has guided a lot of how I've done life. You get an opportunity and then you go all in and then, sometimes you get to choose what that will be and sometimes it's just what is presented to you and you go all in. It’s like, what do I have right now? And then you exploit all of that basically and manage the things that you don't have or that are lacking and keep going. I always win maybe a race or two a year and that's awesome. And in our sport, we're always going to lose more than we win. Even in my perspective, there'd be so many other races, if things were always going my way, there'd be so many other races I would be winning. But you have to appreciate or really soak in those good moments and congratulate yourself. Be your own best cheerleader. Sometimes we focus so much on where we could do better, and really, even in my career, there's so much more of that. But when you do get the few percent of things where you did really well, you have to spend so much time soaking those into your bones. If you focus too much on the things to do better, that's super exhausting. Also having a bigger perspective than just me in sport, but in me in life with having so many other balanced interests and things that helps to. If cycling is not going well, another area of interest that I'm involved in or creatively might be going better. You get some positive feedback and it bounces back and forth.

Kathryn Ezra: What are some of the different areas of your life apart from cycling? What are the things you want people to know about you?

Alison Jackson: I don't know if it matters what people know about me, but I do have a lot of other interests. I also just love exploring a new place. One of my passions absolutely is to ride a new kilometer. Every ride that I go on, it's gotta be new, no repeats. It just is something that totally energizes me if I could fill a whole map of new roads or ride new places, I love that. I love planning a surf trip or skiing or music and going to concerts or playing an instrument.

Kathryn Ezra: Do you play an instrument?

Alison Jackson: I do that, but that's when I was younger.

Kathryn Ezra: What did you play?

Alison Jackson: I played the piano all through Royal Conservatory to like university. And then I also learned how to play guitar because, when you're really into Avril Lavigne, you got to try to figure out how you can rock out in any which way. But yeah, then, sometimes I like to do something and try to be an expert at it. And then I might try something new. A couple off-seasons ago, I wanted to be an expert pasta maker and just got super into making pasta and ravioli so they would all be like really uniform and gorgeous. Anyway, that's a few things.

Kathryn Ezra: Looking ahead to next year. Or rather, looking ahead through the rest of this year, beyond Roubaix. We've got the Olympics, we've got Worlds, we've got lots of things coming up. What are some of your hopes and dreams for this season?

Alison Jackson: Yeah, I mean I really want to be like The Roubaix Queen, just another win would absolutely solidify that, and then, I love wearing this Maple Leaf jersey. Another national championship, we've got to bring it home with the team. We've got three Canadians going there. So, I think, someone's got to be wearing that on this team next year. Olympics. Absolutely. That's been a focus. The course suits me well. We got some cobbles on there and it's technical. So really trying to even arrange how we prep through this whole spring leading up to that, to put myself in the best shape, and be totally a part of the action there. Then, I love racing the Tour [de France]. It'd be really cool to race Alpe d'Huez, I think that's just like an iconic thing that if you can put into a race, that's super cool. Hoping to try to get someone to bring me a cheeseburger on the climb. That's also a goal. And I guess that’s what I love about cycling too, we have a whole long season and we can really pick these moments of goals, and how we do, and really, I just want the team to win. I really want us to win and I want to be the difference maker in that win. Winning yourself is a special type of fun, but, making the moves or being a decisive person in the race and that’s why your teammate won that also has such value and it feels really good. Thinking about all through that, going to Worlds then I don't know what. October ending with a surf trip maybe?

Kathryn Ezra: Ooh, where?

Alison Jackson: I'm not sure. Morocco or Portugal or Spain.

Kathryn Ezra: Got a lot of good options. I wanted to play, a word association game now. No wrong answers, all right answers. Just say what comes to your mind. Maybe it's a word, maybe it's a sentence, maybe it's a long story. We're gonna find out. First word is cobbles.

Alison Jackson: Cobbles. I think of blisters on my hands.

Kathryn Ezra: TikTok.

Alison Jackson: Dances. Dance.

Kathryn Ezra: Triathlon.

Alison Jackson: Triathlon. Almost drowning. I was a triathlete before and I was doing this elite race where we had to swim in the ocean and on all the beaches, they had all these black flags up with the skull and crossbones because it was too wavy, but then we're supposed to still be in it. Maybe it was for the regular people to not go in. I remember there's this local guy that was going out into the water so I was like, “oh he's going, I'm going.” And then it's so rough, but okay I'm just a prairie kid, but I can swim in the ocean. And then when we're coming back out, I just remember, "oh, I made it.” And I see my mom and then also his mom out on the beach and I'm looking at them, their eyes get wide and they look frightened. I was like, "what's happening?” And then behind me, this big wave just takes me out. I lose swim cap, goggles, no idea where they are. And my swimsuit just fills with sand, seaweed in my hair, sand is all in my swimsuit. I never got all the sand out of this swimsuit, so it was like, just when you thought you made it out and then you get tumbleweeded. So anyway. That's what I think when you say that. There's a story for ya.

Kathryn Ezra: Knitting injury.

Alison Jackson: Oh gosh. Yeah. I used to knit all the time. My favorite thing to knit was mittens. I've never really had injuries in cycling. Knock on wood. The only injury was literally this knitting injury. We were at the Tour of Norway. Great place to knit Norwegian sweaters. They've got the best wool. So, I'm knitting on the way to the race, but then in the race, it's like windy, rainy, there’s wind from the side. And I'm just like, holding on to the handlebar so tight. I was like, "man, my hands are sore". But then, next day, I'm like knitting and then into the race again. And then, that evening, I went to go pick up my knitting and I had no strength in my hands. I couldn't even like pinch. I couldn't even hold a fork. It was from carpal tunnel syndrome from knitting and maybe the combination of the cold and whatever. But then I was like, I might not be able to race the next days of the race if I keep up this knitting. So then I had to retire from knitting. And actually, I literally haven't knit since.

Kathryn Ezra: I love that it came down to a bike versus knitting. And I do just imagine you being like, "ah, okay, on the one hand, the bike is beautiful. It takes me places. It helps me spend my energy. But on the other hand, knitting. It's mittens. So this is a tough call.”

Alison Jackson: You need that for Canada, I'm telling you!

Kathryn Ezra: The next one is British Columbia.

Alison Jackson: Oh, BC, yeah, mountains. I think mostly of riding bikes and rock climbing when I grew up in Alberta, but when I went to BC for university, that's basically when I got into super outdoorsy stuff. Rock climbing, that’s also when I got my first bike. So yeah, just fresh air and the woods.

Kathryn Ezra: Tattoos.

Alison Jackson: Oh, tattoos. I have one. I said I would only ever get a tattoo if I went to the Olympics. I started saying that when I was young. Fourteen maybe. Mostly just thinking I would never I'm not going to get tattoos. So then finally I go to the Olympics and then I think I've said this, I put it out there, I have to do it. But even at this point I was like, I don't think I want a tattoo, or the Olympic rings. All my peers have Olympic ring tattoos, and I don't like to do the same things as other people. So, then I was like, but I have to be true to my younger self. So, manifest this. But then, I got this. I had this great idea for it. It's much more about an art piece than the Olympic rings. And going to the Olympics actually meant a lot to me as a check mark on my career, but especially as a Canadian, the Olympics means a lot to friends and family back home who aren't so into athletics. And a lot of stuff in my personal life at that time was really in turmoil. It was almost like a very spiritual thing to get to have the opportunity to go. And so, I think this tattoo I have is super poetic of that time and space in my life. Tattoo.

Kathryn Ezra: Can you describe your tattoo? What is it and where is it?

Alison Jackson: So, it's on my forearm. And it's like a long rectangle, which actually is in the form of a Japanese lucky ribbon called an Omomori. It’s a long ribbon in the style of that because the Olympics that I was in was Tokyo. And then we've got a landscape scene, Mount Fuji. It goes into some marshy land, rice patties, and then we've got the red cap crane who's got the cutest little butt feathers.

Kathryn Ezra: I'm sorry, did you say butt feathers?

Alison Jackson: Butt feathers. Yeah.

Kathryn Ezra: Just checking.

Alison Jackson: Yeah. So anyway, the crane is coming alive out of the 2D picture. And then we've got the rings. Very delicate, perfect circles. What a great piece of art.

Kathryn Ezra: Ferdinand.

Alison Jackson: Ferdinand the Bull! Who's the little baby bison on the farm. Sometimes back home–we have a bison farm–a family bison ranch. Bison are wild animals. And if they give birth to twins, they only take one and leave the other one. But if we find it while it's still living, we'll bottle feed it and bring it up. So, then my nephews wanted to name this one Ferdinand, like Ferdinand the Bull from the kid’s film. So yeah, we got Ferdinand the Bull.

Kathryn Ezra: La Puntual.

Alison Jackson: Oh, La Puntual is the best bakery of all time. It's near my place in Girona. I get to be on first name basis with the people that work there because I'm in every morning.I'll wake up and I'll literally go and get my one croissant and then come back. The white chocolate croissants are my favorite. Actually, no, I love the coco sucre bread. It's basically just sugar bread. Or sugar on focaccia bread. It's so good. Or like a loaf of bread, sure. Just a regular loaf. I'll take it. They've got the chouchou, which is like this classic Catalan special pastry. The best time to go is in the afternoon. And if you're nice enough, sometimes there's a few extra little bits. in your croissant bag.

Kathryn Ezra: Miss Ryan.

Alison Jackson: My dance teacher! That's funny that you pulled that out. Yeah, Miss Ryan. A lot of times, when we get asked on Woman's Day who was someone that inspired us, she is someone that meant a lot to me. So, my small town, there's not a lot that comes out of the small town or what's the quality of stuff. When I was an athlete, I'd get to the top level of something. Then we'd go to provincials, and I would just be like, “what? There's so many people. I didn't realize you could even do these things.” She was my ballet teacher, dance teacher, but she really would say age doesn't matter. Cause even her, she really wanted to get this top level, ballet exam, but most people, they go through that in school and or high school. But, we're from a small town, that wasn't available, but she’s 25 and she would have to drive up to the city all the time to take these courses but she did it and she would be in a class where there's a ton of 16 year olds and she's 26. It doesn't matter. She's driven to what she wanted. It doesn't matter if you're, a bit outside the norm. And I think for me, to see that in someone and also that she accomplished it. She was excellent at what she did. I started cycling so late. Even now, you have to be brave to be bad at something new. And adults, we get so used to being good at the things that we're at that, it's uncomfortable, it's really uncomfortable and it's embarrassing to try something new. But I think even just from seeing her, it doesn't matter my age. If I want to try something like pick up a skateboard and try skateboarding when I'm 34, I'm going to do it and rip around with those eight year olds that are wearing the same knee pads as me. Anyway, Miss Ryan, great inspiration.

Kathryn Ezra: Last one for word association. Tractors.

Alison Jackson: Tractors. I think John Deere green. That's the only one you got to go with. Out here in Europe. We're riding a lot of 6Rs. See them all the time. Back home we have bigger tractors than the 6R, but yeah, John Deere green.

Kathryn Ezra: We also put out a call on social media for some questions that people wanted to ask you.

Alison Jackson: Great.

Kathryn Ezra: We're going pick a few. What's the best thing about owning a rock?

Alison Jackson: I think it's just knowing you have a loyal pet. It doesn't cost much to upkeep, and a great reminder of a past memory.

Kathryn Ezra: Why do you wear the Canadian jersey?

Alison Jackson: Because I won the bike race!

Kathryn Ezra: Is there a celebration move prepared for the upcoming Paris-Roubaix?

Alison Jackson: Nope, it was not planned or prepared for last year either. But this is a race that you always have to imagine what it'll be like to win. I've, rehearsed in my mind a ton of times, like, “how would I win? What would it look like if I was in a sprint or I was in solo?” And then what would I do? I have all those renditions in my mind, but in the moment, it's just going to be whatever comes out of the heart.

Kathryn Ezra: If you could just magically make a women's one day race appear overnight where there isn't one, where would you put it?

Alison Jackson: Oh, I'd put it in Canada, bring everyone out to BC probably. We've got some great climbs. And if it could just be so easy just to make that happen.

Kathryn Ezra: Tacos or burritos?

Alison Jackson: Burritos. Just really greasy dripping out the bottom into your lap.

Kathryn Ezra: What's your go to gas station snack?

Alison Jackson: Oh. Sometimes it's a popsicle, or like the Haribo. The little wires. They’re red. Actually, whatever Haribo's red and with the white kind of whatever in the middle of the string. Yep.

Kathryn Ezra: It almost looks like a licorice with the white cream inside. Can you pet a buffalo, and can you ride them?

Alison Jackson: You can. I remember when I was really young and we had the big bulls that are massive, but they were like in a little smaller area and we would take the oats from the horses and then we would spread it just under the gate so that the bison would have to reach under and then you would try to pat its super fluffy, curly head. Like it's so nice, but these things are massive and huge, but we're on the other side of the gate, so you could, and they're so interested in the oats. That was the first time I got to pat, a bison. And then can you ride them? No. Is anything really impossible? No. But is it so dangerous and unlikely? Yes. But, like I said, when we have these little babies that we bottle feed, then they're friendlier. And we had one guy, he grew up on a dairy farm and so he actually kept this little bison with him all the time. And when it was really young, he would sit on it. And then just as it got bigger and bigger, he would always sit on it. So, we have this picture of him on it. It might have been a year old when he was still like sitting on it, but tall enough that he couldn't touch the grou nd, that's pretty cool, but I have not done that.

Kathryn Ezra: What are your favorite places to ride in Alberta? And it can be with or without cobbles.

Alison Jackson: Does Alberta have cobbles? No, we just have dirt roads. Where I grew up, 75 percent of the roads are dirt. If I wanted to ride, the smallest lap on paved roads, I would take a right turn at the first paved road I see and the smallest lap is 150K. There aren’t very many paved roads. It's all dirt roads. But that's the part of Alberta where I'm from. The nice part of Alberta is like in the mountains, like Canmore. It’s beautiful. There are hills and grizzly bears. Actually, Edmonton, if I could ride a place, Edmonton, through the river valley up on both sides, is super nice. So I would do that in the fall time when the leaves are changing.

Kathryn Ezra: What's the most Canadian thing about you?

Alison Jackson: That my family owns a Zamboni and that we use it to flood our outdoor pond, in the winter. And we actually just got it this last winter. And it is literally the most Canadian thing about me, a Zamboni. Which, yes, is for ice rinks. It was a retired Zamboni from a local rink. We brought it to the farm and I got to drive a Zamboni. So, I really feel like I'm very Canadian.

Kathryn Ezra: What's your favorite helmet?

Alison Jackson: My favorite helmet? It has yet to be released. But look out for it at Paris-Roubaix. Actually, I think, whatever is super-fast. I actually really like wearing this new POC one that we have this year with the visor. When people think it looks silly, I think it looks great on the girls, actually. And we're fast!

Kathryn Ezra: Where do you get so much positive energy from?

Alison Jackson: Deep, deep inside of this heart. I mean I've always been a little bit like this, but I really think that. I'm a spiritual person and I think knowing that there's something bigger than yourself, that for me is a big source of positive energy and also believing that not everything is in your control, that there's someone else like looking out for you and making things happen. Yeah. That allows you to just live such a free, purposeful life.

Kathryn Ezra: Maple syrup or poutine?

Alison Jackson: Maple syrup, hands down. Poutine is just for tourists.

Kathryn Ezra: Would you rather be a backup dancer for Taylor Swift or Beyoncé?

Alison Jackson: Beyoncé. Yep. Yep. Yep. Actually, I just watched the Taylor Swift Eras Tour on Disney plus or whatever, and she put on a great show, but it really is more about Taylor Swift. The dance quality of Beyoncé show.

Kathryn Ezra: Would you rather be a soigneur or a mechanic?

Alison Jackson: Oh boy, probably a soigneur. Oh man, my skill set at the moment would not be suitable to be a mechanic but the workload of swany's, from like morning to night is wild. Working with snacks is probably my thing.

Kathryn Ezra: What's your big goal outside of cycling?

Alison Jackson: To be the most fun aunt ever to my nieces and nephews. I want to keep that status – the most fun.

Kathryn Ezra: Would you rather race in the intense heat or intense cold?

Alison Jackson: You know what? Give me anything intense and I am there. Better for me.

Kathryn Ezra: Would you rather repeat at Paris-Roubaix or win an Olympic gold medal?

Alison Jackson: Holy moly. Oh boy. Either is legend status. The repeat Paris-Roubaix win would be crazy in the cycling world and the trophy with it. Paris-Roubaix, this last win meant so much, but, even if I win again, it would be different. So, you can't expect it to feel the same. It would just, it would be wild. As a Canadian, growing up as a kid, I never dreamed I would be a cyclist. I would dream of being this Olympian, so that Olympic gold medal, that would get me a shot of dropping the puck at an Oilers NHL game. And that is a life goal of mine.

Kathryn Ezra: Let's hope we can make all of that happen this year. Let's go for the Roubaix repeat, the Olympic gold, and the Oilers puck drop.

Alison Jackson: Yeah! I'm in!

Kathryn Ezra: Thank you so much for your time, and thank you for this chat, Allison.

Alison Jackson: This was fun.

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