This time last year Birmingham Monarchs did not really know a lot about him and vice versa but fast forward 12 months and both would admit the other feel part of the furniture.
Richard Stevenson may of been a late starter to Cycle Speedway compared to most riders but he spoke to the website about his rookie season, a tough year on and off the track and thoughts on the future for himself and the club.
What made you start up the sport and choose Birmingham?
I am a Speedway fan and have been up and down the country supporting Workington and going to watch local sides. One day on Sky I saw a British Final and thought it looked like good fun and so I looked on the internet and found Birmingham. I contacted the club and spoke to Natalie who told me about the training nights and I went down one day after work. I thought what have I got to lose just give it a go if I do not like it I can say I tried it. I had a go on one of the spare bikes and really enjoyed it. I then kept going from there and the love for it built and then grew from there really.
How did you find the first season with the Monarchs?
I found it tough of course as going straight into riding in the Midland and a couple of times in the Elite teams against riders who have ridden for years. But I knew I would be at the back most of the time and I used it all as training and experience of the home track and away tracks and picking up advice from the lads in the team. You got riders like Chris, Mark, Scott who can give you great tips on what you doing wrong and also Phil, Paul and Steve who have been in the sport alot.
Did you make any changes during the winter?
The winter was a tough one to be honest. Firstly I did not get much training as I bought a bike and during the break I got it re-sprayed and new parts for it. Paul Timms helped put it back together and I owe a lot to him as there was so much trouble with it and he had to do alot. Because of that I just went on the exercise bike to train hard and lost about a stone and half in weight to get into shape.
Then I had the terrible news of my dad passing away suddenly. It hit me really bad of course but I think it did not hit me fully till a little while after Christmas and then my job went so it all got pretty rough. But during the time people at the club were brilliant and helped me kept in touch and kept my spirits up and that is part of the reason I really like riding for Birmingham as they are a good bunch.
Now you been riding for about a year what you looking for this year?
This year I can see an improvement already in my riding. I know I am not going to be a British Champ or Monarchs number one but I am pleased as in the Midland I am getting stuck into the points and the Elite I have had a couple of good races and keeping pace with them which is a major improvement to last year.
This year the club asked me to do the website as well and with help with people in the club I have been able to make a fist of it. It is great to hear the positive feedback but really it is not just down to me but I am glad I can help the club with the website and looking ways to get youngsters to try our sport.
This year target wise I am just looking to improve. It is tough as I am still suffering with anxiety attacks so do not feel 100% after all the stress of the winter but again I can only thank the club as training and race days we have a laugh and I guess the racing and being with the lads is a good medicine for me. Everytime I go out to the tapes I look up and say this one is for you dad and I just give it 100% for him as the total number of points I finish with this season I am going to donate to the hospital.
What do you think the future holds for Birmingham Monarchs?
I would like to hope the club will still be around. When you see teams like Stoke and Sandwell going and Leicester dropping down it is sad to see but you need to look at what sides like Poole and Ipswich are doing in terms of youth. This is what Birmingham needs to do if they want to carry on and be up there with the top teams in the sport. It is great to see the team getting into schools and also having people throughout the club wanting to see Birmingham become stronger on and off the track.
What tips/advice would you give to someone older like yourself that wants to join?
I would say do not be worried to start up. I know you have youngsters beginning in the sport so they have a big advantage over you but if you put in the hard work in training and really want to do it then go for it!
What have you enjoyed and least enjoyed about the sport?
Easily the bit I enjoy is the racing. Going around the country to different places meeting new people it is a great social sport and way to keep fit. It is funny as last year I would turn up to race and people would give me a strange look like to say “who the hell this guy??” But once you been round the tracks a couple of times people recognise you and everyone is friendly. I cannot think of anything really that I least enjoy apart from maybe washing the bike after a wet meeting!