(Courtesy of Bhabna Banerjee)

What 4/19 “Bicycle Day” Means to Psychonauts & More!

Just like the years prior, we’ll be celebrating this 420 by toking up and winding down with our favorite plant+bestie — cannabis. But it’s not the only holiday we psychedelic enthusiasts will be celebrating this month. With stunning images, psychological breakthroughs, trippy ideas, and bursts of euphoria, LSD is one heck of a drug. 

But where does LSD come from? And have you ever heard of ‘Bicycle Day’?

Meet Albert Hofmann, The Swiss Father of Psychedelic Medicine

Photo by Reto Gisin/Keystone/Redux

A powerful hallucinogenic, LSD a.k.a. Acid was originally produced in a laboratory by Swiss research chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938. At the time, Hofmann was working for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, and was attempting to synthesize a compound derived from ergot (a rye fungus) which could potentially stimulate circulation and respiration. 

What he got was something totally and utterly mind-blowing; except, he just didn’t know it yet. 

Yielding little attention from pharmacologists and physicians at the time, Hofmann shelved his research but never forgot about the healing potential it might contain. It wouldn’t be for another few years until Hofmann would re-synthesize the ergot and accidentally experience the psychoactive effects of this chemical compound himself on April 16th, 1943. 

At first, the 32-year-old researcher unintentionally experienced a mild dose of acid; most likely through some slight physical contact with the chemical. Feeling rather unpleasant and strange, Hofmann originally blamed the sensation on the fumes of a chloroform-like solvent he had been using in the lab. But after smelling the fumes the following day and experiencing nothing, Hofmann realized the culprit had been something else; specifically the LSD he’d synthesized the day before. Knowing this, there was only one thing left to do… That’s right, Hofmann was a man who believed in self-experimentation. Pretty badass.

But first… What the eff is LSD?

LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetically made and extremely potent hallucinogen. When consumed LSD mimics serotonin, the hormone that helps stabilize moods and is often referred to as the “happy chemical”. Its effects, a.k.a. ‘trip’, include some mind-altering fuckery and deep healing that can potentially “course-correct” an individual’s thought process and be incredibly therapeutic, overall. 

Why It’s Called ‘Bicycle Day’

Brian Blomerth’s graphic novel “Bicycle Day” (Anthology Editions)

Dubbed the 4/20 for psychonauts, “Bicycle Day” is celebrated on 4/19

On April 19th, 1943 Hofmann decided he would intentionally take 250 micrograms of acid for the very first time. Keeping a journal to record the experience, and in a wonderful twist of fate, Hofmann took this epic dose at 4:20 PM.

By 5 PM Hofmann writes “beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh.” which he shares in his book ‘LSD: My Problem Child’. That was the end of Hofmann’s journal. Needless to say, the hallucinogenic effects of Miss Lucy came as quite a shock to our beloved Hofmann. Feeling high, Hofmann decided it would be best to head home. Good call, buddy. 

So here’s where the bicycle in “Bicycle Day” comes in. Because Hofmann was living in Switzerland during World War 2, a time in which personal cars on the road were restricted, he had no other choice but to ride his bike home during the peak of his trip. Don’t worry though, luckily Hofmann had his assistant to escort him along the way. 

And so began the relationship of a lifetime for Hofmann. We love that for him (and for us).