Cycling News

The Big Trip on Bicycle Day

The Big Trip on Bicycle Day

Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, rode home from the Sandoz lab at which he worked on April 19, 1943. His lab assistant rode with him. As they pedalled along, Hofmann began to feel bad. “My condition began to assume threatening forms,” he wrote. “Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror.” On that day, Hofmann became the first person to trip on LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide. Since that trip involved a jaunt on a bike, the day is commemorated as Bicycle Day.

Hofmann had first synthesized the drug in 1938 with a plan to use it as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, but it didn’t seem to gain any traction at the lab. Still, Hofmann remained curious about the properties of LSD. On April 16, 1943, he synthesized LSD once again. This time, he felt a little funny. “I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness,” he wrote in LSD: My Problem Child. “At home, I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away.” Three days later, he experimented on himself, taking a high—for LSD—dose of 250 micrograms.

Very Little to Do with the Bike

In the his laboratory journal, Hofmann wrote, “Home by bicycle. From 18:00- ca.20:00 most severe crisis.” In his book, he added that he and his lab assistant travelled by bike because of wartime restrictions on cars. When the trip was going badly, he wrote, “I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had travelled very rapidly.” For a post-ride drink, Hofmann wanted milk, which, for some reason, he thought would work as an antidote. He ended up drinking about 2 l of milk. And his trip got worse.

In Hofmann’s account of that first experiment, the bike seems to play a minor role, possibly on par with the milk. Yet, the bicycle has become emblematic of the first trip. Maybe it’s simply the idea of travel—the bike as means of transportation, the drug as means for a psychedelic journey—that led to the name Bicycle…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Canadian Cycling Magazine…