Richard Branson has suffered a major crash while cycling in the British Virgin Islands as part of a multi-discipline challenge fundraising event for education charity Big Change.
The Virgin Group founder was taking part in Strive BVI, where he also did sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding, and planned on hiking and swimming before he was involved in a cycling accident.
During a 60km bike ride around the hills of Tortola, the largest island in the British Virgin Islands, Branson decided to do an extra 15km of hill climbing at the end, confident he had the physical capabilities to complete the challenge.
Branson wrote on his blog (opens in new tab): "Taking on Strive Challenges has been one of the main reasons I have got so fit in recent years, and one of the best ways I have kept in such a healthy state of body and mind.
"The events are tough physically, but even more so mentally. When there is a challenge I love to rise to it. Being Dr Yes, I said yes to the extra 15k."
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However, Branson suffered what he calls a "colossal cycling crash" while descending down a steep hill during the extra kilometres. The 71-year-old's brakes failed on him during the descent, and as he started getting faster he claims that he had three options: to drop off the side of a steep cliff, to crash into an oncoming car, or potentially hit his cycling partner.
The British business magnate ended up crashing into cycling partner Felix Stellmaszek, with both men falling heavily off of their bikes and slamming onto the concrete road. Branson came away from the incident with some severe cuts, bruises on his elbow, a large bump on his hip and a hematoma on his leg.
He said: "There is no question that wearing helmets saved our lives – not the first time that has been the case. 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.
"For those of us lucky to have had horrible near misses and got up and walked away, we're very blessed. So many people don't walk away. But I won’t stop taking on challenges and adventures – it’s how I’ve always lived my life.
"It is incredible how adrenaline kicks in when you are injured – it was only after getting home and lying down that my injuries really started to throb. I'm now sitting with my feet up, with ice packs on my injuries, which are starting to go down. Felix is doing well too. Thanks everyone for your kind wishes."
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