Science

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd LSD Origin

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

Strange as it might sound, Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day has nothing to do with the man riding a bicycle, although an actual bicycle was involved. While the phrase does reference a bicycle, it does so in a symbolic manner, which is why Bicycle Day means so much to lovers of psychedelics.

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day is remembered because it marks the discovery of LSD or Lysergic acid diethylamide in full. The day got the name because Hofmann was on a bike when he was on his first LSD trip.

The chemist was born on January 11, 1906, and he was the firstborn in his family. He started studying chemistry at the University of Zurich when he was 20.

His father could not pay his fees, but his godfather paid for his studies. He focused on the chemistry of plants and animals.

As the Swiss scientist was researching the properties of ergot, a rye fungus, in 1938, he had his first encounter with LSD. Bicycle Day happened much later, on April 19, 1943.

Hofmann was researching a substance that could stimulate the nervous system, hoping to solve respiratory issues and headaches.

In the earliest trials, the results he got were underwhelming. The company that was supposed to create the drug abandoned the project. At the time, he was working at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, based in Basel, Switzerland.

Ergot, the rye fungus Hofmann used to process LSD, was blamed for the occurrence of St. Anthony's Fire, which took place in 1951 in a French village. Those who consumed rye contaminated with ergot pretty much lost their minds, experienced violent muscle spasms, vomited, suffered hallucinations, and experienced delusions.

Otherwise, even though the company was done with ergot, for the time being, Albert Hoffman was not. Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day happened when he decided to research the compound further, five years later.

What Really Happened On Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day?

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

The experiment leading up to Albert Hofmann's Bicycle day started on April 16, 1943. The scientist accidentally absorbed a trace amount of LSD through his fingers.

He was researching the drug because he felt that more studies were necessary about the compound, which is why he had prepared a fresh batch.

As soon as the drug got into his body, his consciousness was altered. He described the experience as pleasant. He did not feel like he was intoxicated, which he found pretty intriguing.

On April 19, 1943, Hofmann tried to explore the full effects of LSD. He would be the test subject.

He put about 0.25 mg of LSD in water, which he considered to be a standard dose. After he consumed the solution, Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day was born.

To him, 0.25 mg was the least amount he needed to consume to notice the effect of the drug. Later, it was discovered that he had used two and a half doses at once.

He had no idea how things would go when he took the drug. After an hour of taking the drug, the effects started to kick in.

He had a desire to laugh, was slightly anxious, and reality seemed distorted.

Hofmann's Iconic LSD Trip

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

To get home after consuming LSD, Hofmann had to use his bicycle. He had to cover a 6-kilometer distance. At the time, gasoline was being rationed so that it could be used in medical emergencies because of the war.

As he was heading home, the effects of the drug got worse. He was afraid that he was losing his mind, and he was also suffering from intense anxiety and paranoia.

He feared that he had poisoned himself, which made sense because the fungi used to create LSD are naturally poisonous and deadly.

Although his assistant, who had accompanied him home, told him that they had traveled home very fast, Hofmann remembered feeling like he was trapped on a single spot while on his bike. Everything in front of him also seemed like it appeared through a curved mirror.

The term Bicycle Day is derived from the fact that the effects of the drug he had consumed affected him the most while he was riding his bicycle. After the scientist got home, he called a doctor to have a look at him.

The doctor found nothing wrong with him except for slightly dilated pupils. Strangely, getting this information made him feel great and grateful. He began to enjoy the strange world the drug had introduced him to, and Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day changed for the better.

Even with his eyes closed, he could see amazing colors and incredible images. Despite a fearful day, Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day had helped introduce a psychedelic drug into the world.

Harvard's Experiment On LSD

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

In 1962, Harvard experimented with psychedelics, and the research turned out to be quite controversial. The infamous study earned the name The Good Friday Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment.

The experiment wanted to uncover if psilocybin had the ability to trigger powerful spiritual and mystical experiences. Professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were supervising the study.

Of the twenty participants, half would get psilocybin as a pill, while the rest would get a placebo. Nobody knew who had gotten the real drug or the placebo, not even the researchers.

One of the study participants, Mike Young, said that the experiment changed his life. Without a doubt, he got the psilocybin pill.

Forty minutes after taking the drug, he was already feeling high. The lights he looked at had multicolored halos around them, and he felt that he had slipped into the middle of the ocean, and currents of various colors were flowing through him.

Young was so anxious, and he could not choose what current to swim in, and then, he started to die, which felt "like hell." It felt to him like his guts were being torn into shreds.

Then, without warning, the psilocybin "trip" set in. He began to thoroughly enjoy himself, just as was the case during Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day.

Another participant had to be injected with Thorazine after he was overcome by an urge to go and tell everyone that Jesus would rise from the dead. Strangely, this student had gotten a placebo.

Before the experiment, Young had ambitions of getting a degree in theology, law, or medicine. Still, after taking the drug, his focus shifted to social activism, and he became a minister.

The Future Of Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day And LSD

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

Taking psychedelics is nothing new, and primitive cultures have used them for millennia as part of their spiritual healing rituals. It was also used medicinally in China and the Middle East.

So, Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day only introduced the drug to the modern world. Today, Hofmann is remembered as the first person ever to go on an acid trip, literally and figuratively.

Even though most people choose to focus on Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day, his ambitions regarding LSD went beyond giving people a colorful psychedelic trip. Hofmann believed that when LSD is appropriately used, it can stimulate our "inbuilt faculty or visionary experience" people lose as they mature.

Later, he wrote a book, LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism, and Science. He was critical of the drug, especially its use as a form of entertainment.

This proves that Hofmann had mixed feelings about his discovery, and he once compared his invention to the discovery of nuclear fission.

The first time Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day was officially recognized as a holiday was in 1989. Thomas B. Roberts, a professor from Northern Illinois University, started the tradition.

Ironically, even though people might enjoy Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day today, the man did not initially appreciate the day as much because he felt like a demon had invaded his body.

Nevertheless, he would take small doses of the drug until his death, which he insisted should be used with sacred intent. He blamed Timothy Leary, the Harvard psychologist who did a study on the drug, for giving LSD a bad name.

Albert Hofmann's Death And Final Thoughts On LSD, His "Problem Child"

Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day: The Odd Lsd Origin

Hofmann passed away at the age of 102 in 2008. Later in life, Hofmann would say that he did not choose LSD. As far as the chemist was concerned, LSD chose him.

When he was 100, he said that LSD was just a tool to turn us into "what we are supposed to be."

To this day, Albert Hoffman's Bicycle Day is still remembered. Some celebrate it, while others use it to remember the scientist.

In 2007, he was on the list of 100 greatest living geniuses.

Today, LSD is being studied as an effective way to treat various kinds of mental and physical health conditions. Due to Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day work, several significant drugs were discovered, including a substance used to stop hemorrhage after childbirth.

In his last years, he suggested that psychiatrists should have access to LSD just as they can access morphine and cocaine. Nevertheless, he felt that more information about the drug was necessary to give the drug mainstream acceptance.

Clearly, the world is yet to learn everything there is to know about LSD. Otherwise, we have Albert Hofmann's Bicycle Day to thank for the discovery of this interesting drug, which might help solve many critical medical issues in the future.