World record crossing attempts of the Atlantic Ocean, experimental space travel, kite surfing, balloon racing–an admitted aficionado of extreme, this had to be the last way serial entrepreneur Richard Branson thought he would go. But according to his website, Branson says he nearly bit it while riding his bike at night this week in the British Virgin Islands. He was apparently training for the Virgin Strive Challenge sponsored by his company, Virgin, when he hit a speed bump (a ‘sleeping policeman hump’, as he called it), flew over the handlebars and took the brunt of the fall on his face.
“The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes,” wrote Branson. “I really thought I was going to die. I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact, and I was wearing a helmet that saved my life. My bike went flying off the cliff and disappeared. We’ve since recovered the crumpled bicycle, completely destroyed. My cheek has been badly damaged and my knee, chin, shoulder and body severely cut.”
The Virgin Strive Challenge is an adventure race from the Matterhorn in Switzerland to Mt. Etna in Sicily where competitors will hike, use bikes, swim and basically utilize any means necessary to complete the 1,200-mile journey, which Branson hopes will raise nearly 2 million for charity. He will compete with his children, Holly and Sam in the event next week (assuming he’s ready).
“Over the years I’ve had many brushes with death,” he said. “My son, Sam, mentioned a fitting quote from Hunter S. Thompson: ‘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!'”

Hard to argue with that classic piece of HST wisdom. But please, somebody get this dude a face mask.