Richard Branson was cycling in the British Virgin Islands when he hit a bump in the road and almost died

By Dave Quinn
Updated August 26, 2016 01:55 PM
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Billionaire Richard Branson saw his life flash before his eyes when his bike hit a bump in the road and crashed during a high-speed, downhill ride on Monday.

The 66-year-old tycoon was cycling on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands with friends and his two adult children Holly and Sam at the time of the accident. The group was training for the upcoming Virgin Strive Challenge – which will see participants hike, cycle, and run for charity in a month-long journey from the base of Matterhorn to the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Branson shared the details of the accident on his Virgin blog Friday, saying “I really thought I was going to die.”

“I was heading down a hill towards Leverick Bay when it suddenly got really dark and I managed to hit a ‘sleeping policeman’ hump in the road head on,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes.”

Flying head-first towards the concrete road, Branson said he feared this was his end. But luckily, he was wearing a helmet – which he said saved his life.

“My shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact,” he wrote. “My cheek has been badly damaged and my knee, chin, shoulder and body severely cut.”

Branson’s bike “went flying off of the cliff and disappeared.” When they recovered the vehicle, it was “completely destroyed.”

“I really couldn’t believe I was alive, let alone not paralyzed,” said Branson.

It didn’t take him long to get his sense of humor back.

“‘I’m alive! At least you’ve still got a job!’ ” he recounts telling his assistant Helen, who was the first person to find him on the road.

After getting “patched up” at home, Branson flew to Miami for x-rays and scans, where he learned that he has a cracked cheek bone and some torn ligaments. He said his biggest struggle right now is “having to drink tea out of a straw” and “being called elephant man by a six-year-old.”

And while an accident of this nature would normally scare someone away from adventure, Branson won’t be backing down anytime soon. He remains positive about the situation – hopeful that he’ll be able to compete in the Virgin Strive Challenge next month.

“My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you’re moving forward,” Branson wrote. “All you have to do is get back up and try again. At least I’m practicing what I preach – though a little too literally!”

“Over the years I’ve had many brushes with death, not least in my ballooning adventures,” he continued. “It has been quite a year. I’ve been in the wars – knocking my teeth out, playing tennis not once but twice, and also being [stung] by a ray and running into a bullet proof door.”

He says he feels lucky. “Thankfully, good fortune has smiled on me so far.”

Branson ended his candid piece with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson.

It reads: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’ “