Welcome to Bicycle Day, the Ultimate Celebration of Biking and Hallucinations
April 19th might just seem like another day for casual bike enthusiasts, but there's a twist. Instead of merely honoring your average two-wheeled joyrides, Bicycle Day tips its hat to a psychedelic voyage of epic proportions.
Forget what you thought you knew about this pseudo-holiday, because it's not just about cycling. We're here to shine a light on the fateful day in 1943 when Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and LSD creator, treated himself to a mind-altering bicycle ride. You heard that right—our guy Albert inadvertently discovered the mind-expanding properties of LSD while cycling around Basel, Switzerland.
According to Rolling Stone, Hofmann chose the iconic time of 4:20 p.m. on April 19th to dose himself. What ensued was a trip (pun fully intended) through a kaleidoscope of “fantastic images,” as Hofmann later detailed in his memoir, LSD: My Problem Child. He rode six miles that day, but the experience was more about the journey than the destination.
To this day, Bicycle Day celebrates Hofmann's contribution to our understanding of brain chemistry, and the holiday has even inspired some pretty rad artwork (like this anonymous 1993 rendition of Hofmann cruising on his bike). Although it originated in the 1980s as a small professor-hosted party, it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon—just don't mistake it for the UN-recognized World Bicycle Day on June 3.
While Hofmann's trippy bicycle escapades and subsequent holiday make for a wicked cycling story, it's important to acknowledge the impact of his research beyond the world of bikes. LSD and other psychedelics have proven useful in treating mental health conditions like depression and PTSD, proving that psychological interventions alone aren't always enough. It's all about that delicate dance of brain chemistry.
Sadly, Hofmann passed away at the age of 102 in 2008. But whether you're into psychedelics or not, we say strap on your helmet and hit the streets in memory of the man who forever changed our understanding of the human brain. Happy Bicycle Day, everybody!