TWO South Lakes friends have completed a mammoth cycling challenge in memory of loved ones who lost their lives to cancer.

Bev Gaunt, of Kendal and Joy Knowles, of Docker cycled 360 miles in five days from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, raising more than £9,000..

It was done in aid of St John's Hospice North Lancashire and South Lakes. Bev's husband Allan Gaunt and Joy's family friend, Steve Caswell both sadly died as a result of cancer.

Joy said: "It was a truly amazing experience. We never expected to raise that much money.

"The people we were with was fantastic. The challenge came out of sad circumstances. Bev had been made a widow, and our friend died last year.

"It was just nice to do something as friends. Everybody there had a story to tell and everybody was raising money for cancer charities."

The pair trained daily around the back lanes of Kendal, cycling up to Tan Hill, Shap, to Walney Island, Glasson Dock and Blackpool.

They trained through wind and rain, what they couldn’t train for was the heat of 93 degrees Fahrenheit/34 degrees Celsius and the gusting winds from the desert.

Joy added: "It was lovely to get around the lanes round here and train. There were so many places we discovered that we never knew, despite living here for so long.

"Being out there in the outback was so amazing. We saw places you wouldn't normally see on holiday. It felt so authentic - there were the saloon doors on the places we went into.

"And then our daughters met us at the end. My daughter surprised me when she popped out from behind Bev's daughter, so that was amazing as well."

After a gruelling 10 hour flight and five hour coach journey, they arrived at their Outback Hotel in Cameron and met the other 42 people who were to be their companions for the trip.

They cycled around the rim of the Grand Canyon and on the iconic Route 66, the best bit being when leaving one of the hotels, the guide said "cycle up to the roundabout, turn right and cycle 85 miles along that road, until you get to the green arrows, which will direct you to your hotel".

They averaged 80 miles a day and cycled the 360 miles to the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, where the party all donned their charity t-shirts and were clapped and cheered as they entered Las Vegas.

They received medals at a celebratory dinner, where the 44 participants learnt that between them they had raised £134,000 for cancer charities.

Joy said: "It really was fantastic. We are so proud, and we hope Allan and Steve would be proud as well."

Bev and Joy, both 53, have, to date raised £9,070.00 for St John’s Hospice, Lancaster, having paid for the trip themselves.

They held a fundraising party and were sponsored and received donations.

Bev and Joy would like to thank everyone who has supported them in any way and should anyone still like to donate, they can do so at: