Jackson Kinniburgh is a seventeen-year-old cyclist from Calgary, Alberta. You might recognize him from the podium following the Elimination and Scratch events at the 2018 Canadian Junior Track Nationals. Or, perhaps, from the top step of the Points race podium! He’s got some ambitions coming into the 2019 season, with Junior Track nationals fast approaching, and I was fortunate enough to have him humour some of my nosiness between his school and training!
Oliver Evans: How long have you been racing?
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Jackson Kinniburgh: I have been racing for about six years now. I spent most of my younger years on my mountain bike, until about 3 years ago when I started to focus on racing on the road and track.
What’s your favourite discipline?
It usually depends on what event my training is being focused around. Getting on my road bike and doing some local racing is a nice change after spending the winter focusing on track. I also don’t mind a gravel ride every once in a while.
After your success at last years track nationals, you represented Canada at the Junior Track World Championships. What was that experience like?
In August of last year, I raced at junior track Worlds in Aigle, Switzerland. It was an incredible and eye-opening experience as my first international competition. I did not qualify for the Omnium finals which was a big disappointment after getting tangled up in a crash early in my qualification heat, but I have to say it was one of the most fun races I’ve done. The whole field was very competitive and strong. I learned lots about racing at such a high level and what it takes to be competitive.
Since you live in Calgary, are you training anywhere warm this winter?
In December, I spent a week in Santa Barbara and Solvang, California training with my younger brother. In March I will be going out to the tropical destination of Victoria, BC to do a week of training.
Who is your coach?
I am coached by Tanya Dubnicoff from the Canadian Sports Institute Calgary. Working with her for the last three years has been great for my development as a cyclist. She has lots of experience coaching high level athletes, and is always there to help me navigate any challenges I have.
Who are who racing for next year?
I will be racing for Bicisport Calgary, the same place I started six years ago. It has offered me some great financial support, as well as a flexible racing and training schedule. An adaptable racing schedule has been a helpful aspect of racing with Bicisport, allowing me to be rested and at my best when I need to be!
Have (or do) you compete in other sports?
Growing up I played hockey fairly seriously, and really enjoyed it. It taught me lots of lessons about teamwork and how to have fun. In my spare time I enjoy skiing, hiking, and fishing.
What, if anything, do you feel has been missing in terms of support as you’ve developed as a cyclist?
I feel I have had lots of support from my friends and family as I work toward my cycling goals. They’re always encouraging to me and are always helping out in anyway they can. Something that would be very helpful in my development as a cyclist would be an indoor velodrome in town, but up to this point, that hasn’t quite happened.
What is the biggest setback you’ve experienced?
Living in Canada, I spend a lot of time on the trainer (like most other people in Canada) and I find the winter can seem really long and sometimes difficult to stay positive. Having some races to look forward to during the winter really helps but it certainly isn’t as fun as getting for a nice ride outside!
Other than cycling, what do you do to find balance?
Having a balanced life is very important to me. Investing time into academics and family life is an effective way for me to enjoy other aspects of life that can be so easily drowned out in the midst of a busy cycling season. Having some good friends close to home is refreshing and relaxing after being away from home for racing and such.
What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn as a cyclist?
Competition and comparison is an essential part of bike racing. For a period of time I found myself to be quite wrapped up in what other athletes are doing, that I seemed to forget about my own development as a cyclist. Focusing on my own path has allowed me to stay focused and overall a more joyful person.
Oh, and buy a torque wrench…
Any tips for other young, ambitious cyclists?
Being consistent in your training is important. Have a schedule set out for yourself so that you are ready to go when race day comes around. Also, make your training fun! Find little bits about it that you enjoy, and focus on those things rather than the things you don’t enjoy as much. Taking part in lots of different sports is great for young athletes.
What are your goals for this season?
This season I am looking to have some good performances at the Canadian Track and Road National Championships. Junior Track worlds will be my main event for the season in August. Other than that, Tour de l’Abitibi, BC Superweek, and some T-Town track racing may be on the schedule, but nothing is set in stone.
Where would you like cycling to take you?
I would love to compete in an Olympic Games on the track. When that will be, I don’t know, but until then I am going to continue to enjoy cycling and race my heart out and see where it takes me!
Apart from me, who is your favourite Canadian cyclist?
As a young cyclist I have really looked up to Kris Dahl. He was always a super cool guy and been very encouraging to myself, and other young riders in Calgary. He had an awesome career on the road, and even made some successful excursions on the track!
I’ll get straight to work on building you that velodrome! Maybe Jackson can lend me his torque wrench during construction. However, rumour has it that a facility which will have an indoor track in Edmonton has been approved for construction to commence in 2020 which certainly is better than nothing (bit of a commute). All the best to you in 2019, and thanks for the chat!
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.