Coffee Stop

The L2P 2011 on

Tuesday 12th July 2011

M Magazine Exclusive – Ketan Makwana

Mark Bright is well known as the former professional footballer that graced the green blades of grass for Port Vale, Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton.

Today Mark is a football pundit working on TV, Radio and a columnist for Metro Newspaper… recently Mark put his media commitments to one side to take on the challenge of riding a bike from London to Paris to raise money for the Geoff Thomas Foundation.


Geoff Thomas Foundation

In 2003, Geoff Thomas, former -England and Crystal Palace footballer was diagnosed with leukaemia.  Geoff was lucky; a bone marrow transplant from his sister saved his life.  Not every blood cancer patient is so lucky.

During his footballing career Geoff Thomas won nine caps for England and captained Crystal Palace to the FA Cup Final in 1990. In 2003 Geoff was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) shortly after retiring from football.

Inspired by the bravery of patients around him and a determination to beat blood cancers, he set up the Geoff Thomas Foundation. Geoff took on the Tour de France in 2005 and again in 2007 to raise money for research. He was awarded the 2005 BBC Sports Personality Helen Rollason Award in recognition of his charity work

Source: Geoff Thomas Foundation

The challenge

Mark along with a team of ex-professional sports personalities Lee Dixon (Arsenal), Craig Higgnet (Middlesborough) and John Solako (Crystal Palace) who had to pull out due to a bad knee. Will Carling (former England Rugby Captain) was also participating in  the 320 miles 3 day challenge for his own charity, whilst Geoff and the boys  pedalled to Paris in the aim to raise awareness and money for  Leukaemia and Lymphoma research.

Mark provided this insight into the event “the event was fantastic, 3 really hard days riding, especially in England. The roads are narrower and people seem to have less respect for cyclists on the road.” Mark added “I met loads of different people from all walks of life; interior designers, accountants, city traders and executives.

The experience of riding in France was a new concept for Mark “I learnt the French countryside is beautiful , the French love cycling and cyclists, they hoot on their car horns when we pass through villages and people are more understanding.”

Casualties to the cause

The 3 day event was not without its own incidents “on Day 1, ex England rugby captain Will Carling’s chain came of going up a hill, he couldn’t unclip his shoes quick enough and fell off into the hedges.. I loved it”

Mark should have learnt about karma and as they say what goes around comes around..“ I managed to fall off going down  a hill quite fast, touched the back wheel of the guy in front of me and came off. My hip shoulder, elbow and left hand were all damaged in the fall.”

Not to be put off by his dramatic tumble Mark rejoined the group “I had a big dent on my helmet where I banged it on the ground. I was lucky that was all that was wrong after the fall; the mechanics straightened the back up and off I went to join the peloton again.”

Mark and Will were not the only ones that suffered incident “Lee Dixon had gastric flu on Saturday night and couldn’t ride into Paris on Sunday, pity he missed the best bit.”


Finishing line

Mark although bumped and bruised made it through to the finish line in Paris “ it was wonderful seeing families greeting riders, kids hugging mums and dads at the finish, everyone was taking photos with the Eiffel Tower as the back drop, it was truly a moment to saviour”


“the London to Paris is a premier event and must not be underestimated, hard training must be done not only to complete the task, but to more importantly enjoy it.” Mark added


Action man Mark

What a great achievement by Mark to complete the 320mile bike ride, we asked Mark what is next on his agenda “I am looking for a new challenge; maybe your readers can suggest something.”

“I’ve done 4 marathons and 6 half marathons, been in a Red Bull aerobatics plane, been around Brands Hatch with a would touring car champion, rode motorbikes, parasailed” He can certainly add a 320 mile bike ride to Paris onto his credentials

“I would like to hand glide off the side of a mountain at some stage” Mark added.. we think he may need to get his helmet repaired first.

We would like to congratulate Mark, Geoff and the team on their efforts to raise awareness and money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma research.


The Geoff Thomas Foundation can really do with your support; a small donation goes a very long way in supporting the treatment of blood cancers.

To pledge a donation or for more information please visit the following websites:

Bike Challenge Fundraising site

Official donation page

Geoff Thomas Foundation website

or you can donate using your phone by simply texting RIDE12, the amount and send it to70070