CYCLING 500km through the heart of India with the scorching sun on their backs in a joint charity challenge was an “unbelievable and inspiring” experience for two nurses.

Alison Bell, 51, and Fiona Davies, 60, have returned from the India’s Golden Triangle Challenge where they pushed their legs to the limit and pedalled from Delhi to Jaipur.

The two grandmothers, who work for Anglia Community Trust at Harwich Hospital, managed to raise £8,000 between them which will be donated to Cancer Research UK and Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK.

On returning home from the adventure Alison, of Long Meadows, Dovercourt, said: “India in all its crazy hectic beauty did not disappoint.

“We are so grateful to have fulfilled our lifelong dream to visit this special place along with raising funds for such deserving charities.

“We felt that in a short space of ten days we have learnt so much, grown as people and been humbled and inspired on so many levels - the smiles and energy of all the participants has been uplifting.

“Their support and companionship has been invaluable.”

During their ten-day trip the duo rode through Rajasthan, known as Land of the Kings, visited the tigers at Ranthambore National Park, and saw the Taj Mahal - one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

But the trip did not come without its challenges.

Alison and Fiona tackled 5am starts, fog, rain, temperatures in the high 30s, and the pain of cycling up mountains and across rough terrain.

Alison added: “Each day had a new challenge, from dodging cows, goats and pigs following us up the road and monkeys stealing our possessions to weaving in and out of traffic in cities.

“But we cycled through towns and cities with children running alongside us waving and cheering us on.

“We have tackled enormous potholes and muddy roads pushing our abilities to the limit.

“We visited schools and cycled through the national park where we encountered many different animals from deer to crocodiles.”

On average the pair cycled between 45km and 80km per day.

Alison said: “The third day was the toughest day where we cycled 112km in 30 degree heat cycling up mountains with the heat burning on our backs.

“But through grazed knees, dodgy stomachs and cold showers we persevered, survived and thrived.

“It has been a truly unbelievable experience for which we will always be truly grateful.”

Fiona completed the challenge for spinal muscular atrophy, which is a genetic condition which makes the muscles weaker and causes problems with movement.

She lost her niece Nelle to the disease when she was just a four-months-old.

Alison cycled in memory of her parents who both died of cancer.