Bicycle Day

Judging from the name alone, you might be tempted to think that Bicycle Day was a holiday used to celebrate and commemorate the two-wheeled method of transportation or the day in the 19th century when it was invented. However, if you did that, you would be dead wrong.

This holiday actually commemorates Dr. Albert Hofmann intentionally taking LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) for the first time after he had discovered it. It’s called Bicycle Day because Dr. Hofmann decided to ride his bicycle home. This holiday is celebrated on April 19th.

The History of LSD

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann worked at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, during the 1930s. His work there included studying plants such as squill and the fungus ergot in an attempt to synthesize new compounds that could be used for medicinal purposes. On November 16, 1938, while he was researching lysergic acid derivatives, he managed to synthesize LSD.

Originally, the drug was supposed to be used as a circulatory stimulant; however, it was eventually set aside in favor of other projects. It would remain shelved for the next five years until Dr. Hofmann decided to work with it again on April 16, 1943. This is when he accidentally absorbed some of it through the tips of his fingers and noticed that it caused several strange effects.

He began to experience a change in perception, slight dizziness, and a slight increase in respiration, effects which lasted for about two hours. It was at this moment that he decided that the properties of LSD had to be examined more closely.

Three days later, on April 19 of that year, Dr. Hofmann decided to test the effects of LSD on himself. He determined that the optimal dose was around 250 micrograms, which is the dose that he took. Later on, people would consider that dose to be about ten times the actual suggested threshold dose of this drug.

After he took it, his perception changed dramatically. So much so, in fact, that he decided to ask his lab assistant to take him home. At the time, war restrictions were in place, so they had to make their way to Dr. Hofmann’s house by riding a bicycle. During the ride, he experienced intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia and began to feel as though he had poisoned himself.

After he returned home, he called a doctor to come examine him, an examination which showed that he had suffered no ill effects from the drug except for dilated pupils. When he recovered from his experiment, he felt that LSD would eventually be used in a clinical sense as a psychiatric tool. Little did he know that it would explode in popularity as a recreational drug.

From 1949 through the 1950s, this drug was tested by the United States as one that might have clinical applications. During that time, LSD was tested as a drug used to treat a number of different diseases, which included alcohol addiction, anxiety, and psychosis.

It was also a drug that was given to patients for use during psychotherapy. However, many psychiatrists began to use the drug for their own use and also began to distribute it among their friends.

In 1965, LSD production was officially halted, but many home chemists had already begun manufacturing the drug themselves, and LSD proliferated throughout large segments of the population. Right after its official production was stopped, LSD was categorized as a “Schedule One Drug” according to the Controlled Substances Act, thereby making it illegal to manufacture or distribute – except for scientific research.

History of Bicycle Day

Bicycle Day wouldn’t become celebrated as a holiday until April 19, 1985. This is when Thomas B. Roberts, a Professor at Northern Illinois University, decided to celebrate this day in DeKalb, Illinois, as Bicycle Day. A few years later, he told his friends and students about it, and this began the spread of this holiday throughout the population.

He wanted to make April 16, the day when Hofmann first discovered LSD, a holiday, but since that day fell in the middle of the week, he decided to hold it on April 19 – the day when Hofmann experimented with LSD for the first time.

Bicycle Day Customs & Traditions

Although there are some people who decide to take LSD on Bicycle Day, it is not recommended that it be celebrated in this way. And there are a number of reasons for that, the main reason being the fact that it is illegal and it may cause harm if used improperly.

However, that doesn’t mean that this holiday can’t be celebrated in other ways. For instance, the day can be celebrated by enjoying the psychedelic art of artists such as Pablo Amaringo, Lee Conklin, Doug Binder, Laurence Caruana, Grace Slick, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, and Victor Moscoso.

This holiday can also be celebrated by enjoying psychedelic songs such as “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “Are You Experienced?” by Jimi Hendrix, “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles, “The Four Horsemen” by Aphrodite’s Child, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly, and “Break On Through” by The Doors.

Some of the psychedelic movies that can be enjoyed on this day include: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Easy Rider (1969); The Devils (1971); Behind the Green Door (1972); Suspiria (1977); Altered States (1980); Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998); Requiem for a Dream (2000); and A Field in England (2013).

When is it?
This year (2024)
April 19 Friday
Next year (2025)
April 19 Saturday
Last year (2023)
April 19 Wednesday
Weird & Obscure