Jessica Chong racing at the Historic Riverton Criterium in June, 2021. Photo: Will Rivas
In keeping with our mission to grow both the diversity and representation of local athletes participating in all disciplines of cycling, we were so excited to welcome Jessica Chong (Lehigh Valley) to our elite team in anticipation of growing the women's side of our program heading into 2021. And then...well you know what happened next. As competitive cycling returned this season, Chonger has been one of our most active and successful racers on both the road and track. We thought it would be a great opportunity for you to get to know her.
Jessica Chong (2nd from right) 2019 Team Pursuit National Championship Team
If you are wondering about those red, white, and blue stripes on Chonger's DBW p/b Fred Beans Cycling Team kit, those denote that she is a former national champion in the Team Pursuit discipline on the track.
Jessica Chong in action at the 2021 Harlem Skyscraper Classic. Photo: Marco Quezada
1. I know that you come to bike racing from other things. Can you tell us a little bit about your multi-sport history and your involvement in sport before that? One day, the 12-yr-old me picked up a softball glove to play catch with my neighbor's dad, who actually noticed my natural talent for the sport. Since that day, I got into a variety of sports because I just loved the competition. My home life as a kid also wasn't the best, so I used sport as a means of coping and getting out of the house. Softball, soccer, xc/track and swimming were my main sports from middle school all throughout high school. I ended up going to college for swimming and xc/track & field, which exposed me to triathlon post-college. I was introduced to group rides and training races in the Lehigh Valley, and used them as training for the bike leg of triathlons. I got hooked instantly. Long story short, I went pro for six years and got burned out of the sport. It's really easy to do especially when you start swimming competitively at the age of 12. I truly wasn't happy with what I was doing, so I hung up my running shoes and goggles after 2016 and just raced my bike. There's never a day I wish I were still racing triathlons. I also feel like my body will thank me 20 years down the road.
2. Not all of our athletes have an Instagram handle devoted to their own legs. As someone who clearly recognizes the necessity of staying healthy off the bike, can you tell us a little bit about your own fitness regimen and perhaps make some suggestions for say a 52-year-old aspiring C rider with a history of bad choices and questionable fitness habits? There's something for everyone. Whether it be biking, weightlifting, running, swimming or rock climbing, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you're happy. Making healthy choices shouldn't be a chore, it should be a habit. That being said, I can make suggestions until your ears bleed, but it's ultimately your decision. Find that one activity that makes you happy and everything else will fall into place.
Chonger at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, June, 2021. Photo: Paul Boger MindYourDesign.
We are so excited to see Chonger racing at the 2021 USA Cycling Junior, Elite, and Para Track National Championships at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center this month, look forward to seeing her compete on the hometown roads at the Bucks County Classic, and are so, so happy she is representing us.