Okay, it’s not what you think it is! “Bicycle day” isn’t exactly a bicycle holiday!
Believe it or not… its an LSD holiday, but why call it bicycle day? The best way to tell you this is to tell you the story of how LSD was discovered.
LSD was discovered by a Swedish chemist named Albert Hofmann. Hofmann worked in the pharmaceutical-chemical department of Sandoz Laboratories. Although he probably enjoyed it, Hofmann had kind of a boring job. He was tasked to simply study the fungus ergot, for no reason other than it could be helpful for making pharmaceuticals in the future.
A Happy Accident
On November 16th 1938 Hofmann first synthesized LSD while studying a compound of ergot called Lysergic Acid. After it was synthesized the LSD sat on a shelf for 5 years at Sandoz Labs until Hofmann decided to give it another look.
On April 16th, 1943 Hofmann was resynthesizing LSD when he accidentally spilled some on his hand. This was an accident, but Hofmann first felt the effects of LSD at this moment. He described the experience as “restless, combined with slight dizziness” that he had an “extremely stimulated imagination” and that in “a dream like state” it seemed as though he was looking through a kaleidoscope. This altered state of consciousness seemed to really intrigued Hoffman. SO much so that he purposely took LSD three days later.
Bicycle Day is Born
April 19th will forever be known as “Bicycle Day”. This day marks the time that Albert Hoffman purposely took LSD to take a “trip”.
It is All About Acid
That is right!
Bicycle Day commemorates the first time someone purposely took acid and tripped. Hofmann ingested .25 milligrams of LSD on April 19th 1943. Hofmann experienced a sudden and intense change in perception! He needed to get home and it was custom in the town of Basel to ride bikes. Hofmann asked his lab assistant to escort him home on bicycle. The actual bicycle ride didn’t sound like fun, actually… it sounded kind of scary.
I’m Freaking Out Man
Hofmann claimed he saw demons and witches and thought he was going insane. They called a doctor to make sure the LSD wasn’t poisoning Hofmann but by the time the doctor arrived Hofmann wasn’t displaying any type of physical abnormalities, except dilated pupils…
After Hofmann found out he wasn’t poisoned. It appears the trip got a bit more enjoyable.
Bicycle day is more than just commemorating bikes or even the first acid trip. It is a pivotal day in Western culture. It is pretty much the first recorded time that a westerner took a psychedelic. Hofmann went on to synthesis more and more LSD and he offered to send it out for free to scientists who were interested in studying it. Prohibition put an end to the study of psychedelics, but Hofmann did usher a rich point of study on LSD although short lived. The point is April 19th 1943 marks the day that Westerners first sparked their interest in psychedelics and marks the very beginning of the “Western psychedelic revolution”.