Bicycle Day! For psychonauts it’s kinda like Christmas. Except that instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus, or Santa riding through the sky on his sleigh — we celebrate the birth of something that certainly has the power to convert you — and a ride that makes Kris Kringle’s look tame.
Yes! As you may know Bicycle Day (April 19th) commemorates the day that the creator of Lysergic acid diethylamide (orrrr LSD!) Albert Hofmann, took a dose of the mysterious substance he’d synthesised, and cycled home through Basel. This wild ride, and the proceeding hours, goes down in history as the first LSD trip experienced by a human. (Some mice had the first go!)
(If you want the full story of Bicycle Day check out our article here!)
How The Celebrations Began
Although Hofmann’s adventure occurred in 1943, it wasn’t until 1985 — a while after LSD’s heyday in popular culture — that Bicycle Day began to be celebrated. Professor Thomas B. Roberts, of Northern Illinois University, initially wanted to celebrate on the 16th of April. This was because the date marks Hofmann’s first (accidental) ingestion of LSD. However, it just so happened that that year April 16th fell on a weekday. This was no good for someone with a professor’s schedule — so Roberts checked his calendar. He noticed that the day which Hofmann had intentionally chosen to take LSD, the 19th — three days later — fell on a weekend.
And so! The rest, as they say, is history. The first Bicycle Day was a small celebration, taking place at Professors Robert’s own home. Several years later he sent out a flyer made by one of his students to friends and online contacts. This spread the idea of the celebration.
Top 5 Ways To Celebrate Bicycle Day
So how can you celebrate Bicycle Day this year? Of course, many pandemic related restrictions remain in place, so we have kept this in mind when it comes to our recommendations. However, we think we’ve come up with a top 5 ways to celebrate Bicycle Day that is diverse enough to have something to suit everyone! So without further ado, let’s roll out the list!
*Note: Celebrating Bicycle Day in no way means you HAVE to take LSD — of course you CAN — but there are many ways to appreciate the invention of a substance that changed society, popular culture and the field of psychotherapy in countless ways that don’t involve tripping out.
1. Go On A Bike Ride
We’ll start with an obvious one… but what better way to celebrate Bicycle Day than with an invigorating bike ride? Whether you just do a circuit around the local park, or go on a long-haul ride across country, it all counts! The reason that Hofmann ended up taking his fateful cycle was because cars were banned on public roads due to wartime restrictions. However, on a fresh April day there really is no better way to travel! Pack a picnic or some snacks, don your most colourful clothes and set out on your two wheeled steed.
Alternately, around the world there are organised celebrations that involve large scale bike rides, such as this year’s Bicycle Day 2021 at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City, Utah — organised by Salt City Psychedelic Therapy & Research (SCPTR). Here participants are encouraged to decorate their bikes in trippy fashion, dress in ‘Burning Man’ style, and socially distance. There will be a drum circle and general good vibes. Of course, attendees are mainly gonna be from Salt Lake City. So, if you wanna join from a distance, there are plenty of cool pictures from previous years celebrations to browse — from bicycles disguised as fish, to classic psychedelic fairy garb.
2. Watch A Psychedelic Documentary
As we mentioned above, LSD and the psychedelic era it ushered in, irrevocably changed the face of the world. It’s no surprise then, that there are a fair few documentaries about its origins and legacy floating about. This Bicycle Day why not treat yourself to a movie masterpiece?
If you wanna go full-Hofmann there are two documentaries from the past 20 years to choose from. 2002’s Hofmann’s Potion, and 2011’s The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD. Both explore the origin of the drug, society’s tumultuous relationship with it, and its medical potential — which is currently being re-explored.
If you want a docu that explores one of the many tendrils that shoot off from LSD you are also in luck! There’s just loads. A few of our picks include:
Inside LSD — a National Geographic Documentary from 2012, which explores LSD as the medicine of the future based on the current boom of research taking place.
Ergot: The Story Of A Parasitic Fungus — for those who wanna delve back to waaay before Hofmann even knew how to ride a bike. This 1958 docu delves into the history of ergot — the substance that LSD was synthesised from.
Neurons To Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines —This 2013 film is a stylishly made, partially crowd-funded exploration into the future of psychedelics in medicine. Esteemed talking heads include Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Stanislav Grof and David Nutt, as well as archive footage of William S Burrows and Aldous Huxley.
Have A Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics — this 2020 documentary features a long list of talking heads, and though not psychedelic experts, they’ve certainly been there, maaan. Yes, a bunch of celebs discuss their psychedelic experiences. Though not the most in depth look, this docu certainly shows how attitudes towards psychedelics are changing — would folks like Ben Stiller, Sting and Sarah Silverman have been able to discuss their madcap druggy adventures 20 years ago? Probs not…
3. Take A Hit Of Nature
Hofmann himself was a great lover of nature. As a child he was enchanted by the world that surrounded him growing up in the Northern Swiss town of Baden. He describes in his 1980 book LSD: My Problem Child one of these transformative experiences;
“As I strolled through the freshly greened woods filled with bird song and lit up by the morning sun, all at once everything appeared in an uncommonly clear light. Was this something I had simply failed to notice before? … It shone with the most beautiful radiance, speaking to the heart, as though it wanted to encompass me in its majesty. I was filled with an indescribable sensation of joy, oneness, and blissful security…
…It seemed strange that I, as a child, had seen something so marvelous, something that adults obviously did not perceive — for I had never heard them mention it.”
Hofmann would later speak of how LSD could re-awaken this childlike wonder and deep connection to something bigger than oneself.
For Bicycle Day 2021, why not make like Hofmann and admire the majesty of the great outdoors? Go to your closest green space and breathe it all in, baby. (Psychedelics optional!)
In fact, our very own Wholecelium team had a deep dive into nature for an early Bicycle Day celebration! They cycled to their best local beauty-spot, took 5g of Tampanesis truffles each, and had a blast getting back in tune with Mother Earth! Check it out…
4. Indulge In General Psychedelic Culture
It cannot be overstated how much LSD and psychedelics influenced popular culture. From literature, to art, to music, to fashion — the list goes ON. To save you some time we’ve listed a few classics for you to check out:
Books and Literature:
LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann (1980)
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)
The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954)
The Acid Diaries: A Psychonaut’s Guide to the History and Use of LSD by Christopher Gray (2010)
Of course there’s a ton of freaky-deaky art — from medieval manuscripts to Surrealist masters like Dali — which of course you should check out! But here, we’ll look at artists who claim to be directly inspired by their experiences on psychedelic drugs — and who are popular within the deeper psychedelic community — often referred to as ‘Visionary Artists’:
Alex Grey (b.1953) in a 2000 interview with MAPS American artist Grey stated “Being an artist, I felt that this (LSD) was the only subject worthy of my time and attention”. Check out his work here!
Allyson Grey (b. 1952) is the wife of Alex Grey. Inspired by an LSD trip and Ram Dass’s Be Here Now she creates works that involve Secret Writing — an alphabet revealed to her by a higher connection. Check them out here!
Pablo Amaringo (1938-2009) was a Peruvian artist whose psychedelic paintings were inspired by drinking ayahuasca. Check them out here!
R. Crumb (1943) is an American cartoonist famous for his vulgar and eccentric satirical cartoons that became emblematic of psychedelic counterculture. Check out his work here! (Parental guidance advised!)
(This is just a miniscule cross-section — we recommend you google ‘visionary artists’ to discover some more future favourites!)
As with art, the importance of psychedelics to music cannot be stressed enough. Even musicians who have never touched a tab in their life, certainly were inspired by musicians who did. Here’s a by-no-means exhaustive list of some music you can groove to for Bicycle Day:
John Coltrane, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, 13th Floor Elevators, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd The Grateful Dead, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Flaming Lips, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Tame Impala, Chance The Rapper, Goat, Kamasi Washington — and there’s so many more!
Forget just Bicycle Day, you could spend years discovering all the magical mind-melting music inspired by psychedelics — so why don’t you?!
For our fave psychedelic inspired movies why not check out our blog ‘Top 5 Classic Psychedelic Films To Watch In Quarantine’ — you’re sure to find something trippy and delicious!
5. Take A Psychedelic Trip
OK, so as we said before, you don’t have to get high to celebrate Bicycle Day… but equally, you can if you wanna! As LSD is technically illegal, we don’t recommend hunting some down for your Bicycle Day. However, Hofmann was also an explorer of the magic mushroom, having been the first to identify and isolate the psychoactive compounds psilocin and psilocybin. He also tripped out on them numerous times…
So this Bicycle Day why not check out our wide range of magic truffles and magic mushroom grow-kits? Whether you combine your trip with one of our other suggestions, like an exploration into nature, or listening to some awesome psychedelic tunes — or just lean fully into the trip — you’re sure to have a magical time!
From all of us at Wholecelium — have a very merry Bicycle Day!