View All
Jul 05, 2021

Get to Know a Racer: Jessica Chong

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.

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.

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.

3. We see you on the track and on the road. Can you tell us a little about how those disciplines compliment each other?
Track and road definitely compliment each other. I've found that track racing helps with leg speed and sprinting on the road. I've also found that the more track training and racing I do, the better I'm able to acclimate to speed differentiations on the road. A lot of women's racing can be negative (frequent fast to slow speed changes), so to be able to react and adjust to different speeds is essential. Racing and training with big groups on the road is also beneficial on the track because it helps with bike handling and spacial awareness.

4. We aspire to build a women's program. Can you give us some insight about where you see women's cycling at this moment and time and what the potential for growth is?
At this moment in time, I think there's a big gap between the novice and pro/elite riders. And it certainly doesn't help when promoters combine fields so the novice and elite riders have to race together. At that point, you might as well not have categories for women. In order for change to happen, we need to start somewhere; it might not look pretty for quite some time, but positive change takes time. I don't think throwing all women in the deep end from the get-go provides a fair opportunity for women to grow in the sport. If anything, it discourages a lot of women and we go back to the question of why numbers are lacking in the women's fields. We can grow women's cycling, but opportunities must be given in order for change to happen.

5. It's 8:00 AM on a Tuesday. I open my fridge and look at cold pizza. Suggest a go-to breakfast recipe for club level cyclists that you love (we know you are a foodie).
There's nothing wrong with heating up that cold pizza for breakfast. I actually don't have a go-to breakfast because I just eat whatever looks appealing at the moment. If I open the fridge on any given morning and see leftover cheesecake, I'll eat cheesecake for breakfast. Leftover pasta salad? Why not? Who says we need to eat breakfast food every morning? Sometimes I eat breakfast food for dinner. It's actually beneficial for your metabolism if you change up your food choices. I will admit that on race mornings I'm a bit more cognizant about what I eat. Maybe something on the lighter side like a banana, scrambled eggs and a couple slices of toast. No one wants to be racing their bike after downing a humongous chocolate sundae. Also, coffee is a must every morning.

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.

Share It
Facebook Twitter Link Share