Profile Series: Bev Murray - A Survivor
Our Flampion, Bev Murray, is your everyday gal, working night shifts at Asda and being crazy about her husband Neil, but she has quite an incredible story. One that really illustrates her ability to bounce back, appreciate life and the beauty in the little things. Her story is also a great example of how cycling isn’t just about exercise, looking good and being the best. It’s the breeze on your face, the quietening of your thoughts, the rhythm of your legs. It’s the flow of mindfulness that many people fall in love with and Bev shows just how beneficial this can be for your mental health.
Around 28 years ago Bev’s life really came to a climax. She found herself in a horrifically abusive relationship, suffering both mental and physical abuse for 8 years, which is incomprehensible. This came to a head one night when the abuse became so diabolical that it was a matter of survival. Her then husband tried to take her life – “He stabbed me 7 times, broke 3 ribs and both my lungs went down. They didn't think that I would make it through the night, BUT I SURVIVED.”
Bev pulled through remarkably however, the experience understandably left its mark on her mental health, as well as being the reason she now has COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It was a really difficult time to navigate but she had the power to come out shining and meeting her now husband, Neil, 6 weeks after coming out of hospital was a true blessing for her recovery.
Cycling became a huge part of her recovery, fast forward to 2014 when The Tour De France came to Yorkshire and Bev experienced a real awakening - “I went to watch it and it lit a spark somewhere deep inside”. Not long after she purchased a second-hand mountain bike to see if she liked it and low and behold she loved it! Her first ride began with 6 miles in total and it hurt lots. Once she had recovered from the pain of the initial ride she was heavily anticipating her next, like a true cycling junkie. She’d been bitten by the bug.
After deciding that this was her gig, she concluded it was time for a new bike so she went out and bought herself a hybrid bike. To go with her new bike, she bought some cheap cycling shorts. Unfortunately, like many of our community, she couldn’t find women’s shorts that fit her, so she had to buy men’s instead. However, whilst on Facebook one day she came across one of our ads and thought that’s exactly what she needed. So purchased her first pair of properly fitting cycling shorts. “I love that FLAB are all inclusive whatever your shape or size”. From that moment on the romance between Bev and Fat Lad At The Back was irreversible.
Around 2018 Bev introduced her husband Neil to the FLAB Social Rides* Derbyshire group. They decided to book on and give it a try. “It's all Steve Wadey's fault!” Bev says but we know she’d have been there one way or another eventually! Not only did they enjoy the ride but also loved how welcoming the group were to them, which was a big thing for Bev who also suffers from anxiety. The problem was it was too far away for them to travel from West Yorkshire to the Derbyshire rides.
Neil suggested that they start their own group up. It was a big ask for Bev to begin with as her anxiety took over but after a few months of ‘shall we, shan't we’ she plucked up the courage to step out of her comfort zone because ultimately “I want to get people on to bikes! If I can do it, anyone can!”. In August 2018 Flab Social Rides Wakefield and Barnsley was formed, later to become Flab Social Rides West Riding all thanks to Bev and Neil. “I have done amazing things since starting our group like riding from home to Scarborough 85 miles!”
What would you say has been your biggest challenge throughout your journey?
My biggest challenge is having COPD. This means that I get seriously out of breath especially whilst going uphill. Also, the weather conditions affect my breathing, such as cold or even hot and dry conditions. But I REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO IT!!
What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My favorite piece of advice is, just enjoy your cycling. It's your journey no one else's. Don't compare yourself to anyone else.
What’s your personal mantra?
YOU CAN DO THIS!
Thank you so much to Bev for allowing us to tell her story. What a woman! To come through such a life-changing experience and share her positivity with others through cycling is a true inspiration.
*FLAB Social Rides are small groups of the Fat Lad at the Back community that get together in their local area and go out on rides together. All lead by our wonderful Flampions who are amazing brand ambassadors that volunteer to arrange their local rides on behalf of us.