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.”