If you’ve not been living under a rock in the last couple of years, chances are that you’ve heard of TikTok. The video-sharing app has become the latest social media behemoth to capture attention spans the world over, with over 800 million users. It is most commonly associated with Generation Z teenagers posting 15-second videos of themselves dancing or miming along to songs.
Such is the reach of the app, estimated to be worth over $50 billion, that not even pro cyclists are impervious to its allure. One such bike racer is Alison Jackson of Liv Racing, who started posting videos on TikTok during lockdown this spring to bring some levity to the situation.
“During Covid, most of that time I was in the Netherlands so not at my home where I have so many other creative outlets or other things I do,” she said. “But then being in Europe, this was the best way to get out my silliness.” She soon realised that other people loved them too: “I love making people laugh and it’s just been really fun.”
Going by the nickname “Action” Jackson, one look at her TikTok feed reveals the aptness of that moniker. Most of her short videos feature Jackson in Sunweb team kit (her previous team) breaking into impressively choreographed dance moves to a hip hop soundtrack, but with a humorous twist. In one, a seemingly lone Jackson stands in front of the camera before a beat drop wherein the rest of her team-mates are revealed to be behind her.
The brief length of the published videos belies the amount of effort that goes into them. “Sometimes when I do them I take shot after shot after shot, but I think the whole process is fun,” she says. It’s clear from watching her clips that the 31-year-old loves dancing, with a fluidity of movement that most cyclists do not possess.
An ebullient character with an unusual background, Jackson is an example of the huge cross-section of personalities within women’s cycling. She grew up in Alberta, Canada, on a grain farm and bison ranch where her husband now also works.
“It’s a full family business,” she says. “I grew up in a little town, doing nothing with cycling, but always athletic. Then I happened to be on the bike and also swimming and running and got into triathlon... but I always only swam with swimmers, ran with runners and cycled with cyclists.” Her peers encouraged Jackson to compete in road racing.“I did, I won, I got on a team and now we’re in Europe,” she says.
The casualness with which Jackson reels off her sporting journey does not do justice to her achievements. A Classics-style rider, she scored regular top tens in 2018 and 2019 with Team Tibco-SVB before joining Team Sunweb this year. The Canadian also finished in the top ten of a recent Giro Rosa stage, spending a day in the breakaway, as well as leading out team-mate Coryn Rivera.
When not racing hard or creating TikToks, Jackson likes to explore her adopted home in the Netherlands: “I’ve been going on a lot of tourist rides around the province of Limburg where the team house is,” she says. “Normally, I would love to go to cafés but we really limit that now and there’s so many other tourist attractions to see – windmills, different buildings and castles – so planning those has been pretty fun.”
Back in Canada, she can be found in the wilderness with her photographer husband, living out of a van and hitting the road for months at a time: “Just following where the weather is good, seeing new sights and really getting in the forest. That’s good for the soul. Hopefully when the season ends, we’ll have a couple of months of that again.”
Look out, then, for any of these places featuring as the backdrop to an “Action” Jackson TikTok in the near future.