Richard Branson thinks his near-death bike crash has helped Virgin beat its rivals

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said his recent near-death experience on a bicycle was born out of his desire to set "seemingly impossible" challenges for himself, a mentality which has helped keep his brands fresh and ahead of rivals.

In August, while training for the Virgin Strive Challenge in the dark, the billionaire hit a hump in the road and went hurtling forward. Branson's cheek was badly damaged while his knee, chin, shoulder and body were severely cut. He had a cracked cheek and torn ligaments but recovered.

At an event in London on Monday, Branson recapped the event and when asked if he would stop putting himself outside of his comfort zone, the entrepreneur said it was unlikely.

"I've been lucky. But I don't think it'll be much fun not to push myself outside one's comfort zone," Branson, aged 66, told a packed audience at a Virgin Disruptors event in London Monday.

"The good thing is, for about a week my body is now where it was when I was 28 so I'm feeling as fit as I've ever felt and it probably won't last."

Richard Branson after his bike crash in August 2016.
Virgin Group

Virgin Group owns a number of businesses including the airline Virgin Atlantic. The carrier was founded in 1984 as a challenger to incumbent British Airways. Branson said his personal endeavours have helped him keep all his brands fresh and relevant to customers.

"I've got the greatest pleasures in my life of setting myself as most seemingly impossible challenges and then trying to overcome them. And whether it's in business, whether it's in not-for-profit ventures, or whether it's in personal challenges. And I think the personal challenge side, it's helped keep the Virgin brand fresh," Branson said.

"The head of British Airways is unlikely to be foolish enough to jump on a balloon and try to fly around the world and therefore, British Airways, has got a ring about it, it's brand, it wouldn't be able to move itself to other areas. Whereas Virgin's got that excitement and I enjoy it."

It's not Branson's first brush with death. On several occasions, the billionaire has got into trouble while trying to travel around the world in a hot air balloon.