I have worked with Fernando Cuevas for a couple of years now. He has been a joy to work with, and I think that is primarily because I have been so close to his family in general. I raced with Fernando's uncle in CRCA and at the velodrome. Another family member Paco made my first track bike which sported wheels built by Leon Moser. Fernando is running a junior team on his own with very little help as a 501c3 non profit. Kids need jerseys, shorts, bikes (road and track), maintenance, shoes, pedals, entry fees, travel, you name it, it has to be provided, along with the occasional trip to the emergency room. This one is more than an interview, it is a reminder that the future of the sport is in the development of young riders coached well in the fundamentals of being good sportsmen and sportswomen. Cyclists that know the meaning of training for a goal, racing to win, teamwork and sportsmanship that has integrity. In the marines they call it Adapt - Improvise - and Overcome. That is what makes successful programs and maintains them along with the people that willing to stand there and take the shots. A large dedicated family helps – I consider Cuevas my family. Enjoy Campocat.
JC Fernando, when did you start racing? Talk about your family and the great history they have with cycling.
FC I started racing at age 9. My grandfather had raced in Spain in the 30's and then in the 50's he was the national coach in Argentina, where he also built frames for 20 years.
JC Wow that is amazing, my grandmother was born in Argentina. Any memorable races or events the stick out in your mind?
FC In 1980, 81, 82, I won the NY state, and district track championships, from there I went on to race road and track all over the USA and abroad, my parents were very supportive and really helped alot.
JC How important was the track in your development?
FC Track racing is what got me into cycling. 1977 my grandfather and my dad were building frames for the late Vic Fraysse, Mike Fraysse's dad. He took me to T Town and that's were it all began. Track racing really made me a cyclist - fast and disciplined.
JC What is up now? How is the shop? You guys built my first track bike.
FC As you know this past January 28th is the one year anniversary of my grandfather passing away. My father and I have a small shop in Queens where we continue our family legacy. We have already had over 12 orders and my U23 team the ACT- Cuevas Team will be riding my new carbon frame. More info on the frame is on the website, Cuevasdevelopment.tripod.com.
JC That is great, you really have been busy since the last time I spoke to you. How is the junior team developing? This is our pet project, I have been doing juniors now for at least 15 years, and I know you have been at it at least 5 now. We seem to get 10 or 15 kids a year and the next year 5 come back, but we gain another 15. How hard is it to get these kids to the next level?
FC You of all people know how hard it is to work with juniors, very hard. Every year you start over because some of our kids leave to go to college and then we need new kids. This year I have merged the team with my long time mentor and great friend Mike Fraysse's ACT-team. Together we will have 16 kids from all over the NY, NJ, Conn, and New England area. This will be an unstoppable team, both boys and girls. The team will be racing all over the east and we will be at both track Nats and road Nats.
JC Junior programs are kind of like pushing a piano up hill, no one seems to want to help. I'm constantly having to remind people that we have a program going on and participation is needed by everyone that races. What do you make of that?
FC I think that because there is no money in our sport many people just walk away from juniors, what they don't know is that the main age of bicycle racers is 36 years old. Many are professionals or came from another sport due to injury. We need to educate the public about where our sport will be in the next 20 years and see if the public can at least help and support us.
JC It seems there are couple of other programs started in CRCA devoted to juniors. One program seems to be well funded and has taken promising juniors from around the east coast and brought them to some high profile races around the country. Do you have any thoughts on that or advice for them?
FC Anyone that wants to start a junior program should, we need new kids in our great sport, but in the past these programs usually last for a year or so. We have been at it for 6 years and every year it gets better.
JC I hope so, I'm losing my shirt doing this every year. I wish we could get one kid to the big dance before my teeth fall out. I've lost my hair already. How can we make the next step with our kids, or do we want to? Do you see our program as a feeder program of a program that can develop new Lance Armstrong's.
FC Most certianly, slowly but surely we will be able to get further each year. The talent and competitive spirit will find its own way as long as the word gets out – we are here, and here to stay. Then the kids will find us. We have had kids come through the program and go on to college, be accepted on college cycling teams or gain scholarships based on the racing and training they had done with us. We are an important link in the chain.
JC Do you think we can utilize the Star Track program as a peewee development feeder program? I know we have at least one promising youngster coming out of that program.
FC The Star Track program is a great way to introduce young blood into cycling, I know many of the kids will eventually be able to make it into the feeder program and 2 of the kids are now on Cuevas Development. This has worked out great because I believe the kids really love the sport.
JC This one is for you Fern. Tell the good people anything you like on any subject. Also I want to thank you personally for all the work you do for junior's in our area and for me personally. You are the best. Campocat
FC Well first I would like to thank you John for believing in me and what we have both done for juniors. I would really like to see more kids show up on Thursday at Kissena from any club or from the Star Track Program.