Why is it called `Bicycle Day`? Albert Hofmann`s LSD story explained

Eve Edwards April 20, 2021

[caption id="attachment_2854" align="aligncenter" width="464"]Bicycle Day Bicycle Day[/caption]

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images


We explore why the day LSD was discovered is called Bicycle Day. Learn about Albert Hofmann’s adventurous discovery here.

While April might be better known as the month to celebrate marijuana, the day before 4/20 actually is used to mark the discovery of LSD.

The 19th of April is known, annually, as Bicycle Day. But why is it called Bicycle Day? And what did Albert Hofmann get up to to discover the drug substance?

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[caption id="attachment_2855" align="aligncenter" width="485"]Bicycle Day Bicycle Day[/caption]

Photo by Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images

Who is Albert Hofmann?

Albert Hofmann was a Swiss chemist born on 11 January 1906 in Baden, Switzerland. He is best known as the discoverer of lysergic acid diethylamide, now commonly referred to as LSD or ‘acid’.

After obtaining a chemistry degree from the University of Zürich, Hofmann pursued a career in the field. At the time of his LSD discovery, Hofmann was working in the pharmaceutical/chemical department of Sandoz Laboratories, which is now a subsidiary of Novartis.

Hofmann first synthesised LSD on 16 November 1938, but revisited it later in 1943 which is when he first experienced an acid trip.

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Albert Hofmann’s Bicycle Day story

On 16 April 1943, Albert Hofmann decided to revisit LSD. While re-synthesising, Hofmann absorbed a small amount through his skin.

After accidentally absorbing LSD, Hofmann was quick to note the effect the drug was having. He experienced an altered consciousness which is now associated with the drug.

This leads us to 19 April 1943. After experiencing this dreamlike, altered state, Albert Hofmann decided to experiment on hisself by purposefully ingesting the substance.

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Why is it called ‘Bicycle Day’?

On 19 April 1943, after ingesting an estimated dose of .25mg, or 250 micrograms in water, Albert Hofmann took the world’s very first LSD trip.

In his altered state, Hofmann asked his lab assistant to take him home. As the discovery took place against the backdrop of World War II, they were not able to drive home in cars. Instead, Albert Hofmann and his assistant rode back home on bicycles.

Hofmann reflected on the ride back in his book: “Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly.”

The day to mark the discovery of LSD, or ‘acid’, is known as Bicycle Day because of Albert Hofmann’s bike ride home.

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[caption id="attachment_2856" align="aligncenter" width="509"]Bicycle Day Bicycle Day[/caption]

Eve Edwards Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.

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