richard branson
71-year-old Richard Branson crashed while cycling in a charity fundraiser on Wednesday; (photo/Jared Ortega)

Richard Branson Crashes Bike, Not Spaceship; Calls Incident ‘Colossal’

Outer space’s first billionaire may have landed his rocket ship without issue, but he couldn’t pull it off on his bicycle.

Richard Branson has suffered what he called a “colossal cycling crash” in the British Virgin Islands. The well-moneyed business magnate attributed the crash to a brake failure.

Branson was riding in a fundraising event for the education charity Big Change when the incident occurred. After completing a 37-mile bike ride around Tortola, the largest island in the group, he took off on a 9-mile hill climb.

The 71-year-old wrote about the challenge via his blog.

“The [Big Change] events are tough physically, but even more so mentally,” Branson wrote. “When there is a challenge I love to rise to it. Being Dr Yes, I said yes to the extra 15k.”

That’s when the trouble started. During one steep descent, Branson realized his brakes were failing. According to him, he had three options: pitch off a steep cliff, head-on an oncoming van, or hop onto his cycling partner’s bike.


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Somewhat understandably, he chose the third.

Branson’s cycling partner, Felix Stellmaszek, recalled the crash: “Richard, in a very nice and gentle manner, said to me, ‘my brakes are failing.’ Next thing I know, he jumped on my bike, [and] we both crashed. But I’ve never had somebody push me off the road and apologize in advance. It was very gentle and kind, I must say!”

Reports indicate that Branson suffered cuts and bruises. His story, as told to Cycling Weekly, is compelling:

“There is no question that wearing helmets saved our lives; not the first time that has been the case,” Branson said.

“We both lay flat out on the road as the rest of the team gathered around us. I stayed still, hoping I hadn’t broken my back or paralysed myself. Slowly, I moved my limbs and was relieved they responded. Thankfully, Felix was ok too.”

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.