Why Is April 19th Bicycle Day?

November 09, 2021

Why Is April 19th Bicycle Day?

When the one and only Mr. J.C was born, we got Christmas. 

When ‘Merica dumped Great Britain like how we dumped their tea into the harbor before adopting the Declaration of Independence, we got the 4th of July. 

When a day was needed to celebrate this big ‘ol ball of gas we all call home, we got Earth Day.

And when a Swiss chemist decided to take a “trip” (wink, wink) on his trusty bike after ingesting some ~groovy~ drugs, we got Bicycle Day. 

Oh, you think we’re making that last holiday up, do you? Fine. Go search the “all-knowing” Google to fact-check. We don’t mind. We’ll wait. 




Welcome back. As we were saying, Bicycle Day

A holiday amongst the rest — like St. Patrick’s Day with its adorable little leprechauns, Easter with its baskets full of chocolate, and Valentine’s Day with its passion to Netflix & Chill from sun-up to sun-down — Bicycle Day has made its place in our calendars and is celebrated annually. 

In this post, we’re taking a trip back in time to discover why Bicycle Day came to be. Trust us — it’s not what you may think… 

A Chemist, His Bike, and Some Drugs 

Ah, bike rides. Who doesn’t enjoy riding their bicycle on a nice sunny day? When we typically go for a little cruise, we listen to music, soak up the sun, and embrace the cool breeze as we peddle forward. Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, on the other hand, has different ideas. 

What kind of ideas, you ask? 

Well, simply put: bike riding while high. 

Yep, it’s true. Hofmann got his hands on some acid and felt nothing would be better than to take his bicycle for a spin. We’re sure you have a lot of questions, but don’t worry — we’ll tell you the whole story.

Get cozy and pop on your reading glasses; it’s storytime.

The Birth Of Bicycle Day: April 19th 1943 

Our story starts back in 1938 when Hofman had his first encounter with LSD. At the time, he had synthesized the drug while studying the properties of a rye fungus called ergot. Hofman was on the hunt for a compound that could stimulate the central nervous system as a medical solution to treat different respiratory problems and even your everyday headache. 

Unfortunately, all of Hofman’s tests yielded very few results, so the whole thing got canned. 

Fast forward to 1943: the curious chemist felt compelled to return to the project, so he brushed off the cobwebs and pulled it out from hibernation. The problem? He accidentally absorbed an itty-bitty trace into his skin, and just like that — he got high. 

Describing it as “a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition,” Hofman decided to conduct some experiments on himself. 

At 4:20 p.m. on April 19, the Swiss chemist ingested a 0.25mg dose of LSD, which he felt was a pretty insignificant amount, but to his surprise, it was not. Hofman hopped on his bicycle, as he always does after work, and headed home. Kids, don’t try this at home. 

Science Is Tight

This was the beginning of Bicycle Day.

Though he wasn’t sure what to expect, Hofmann entered a mildly drunken state, accompanied by unbelievable images and what he called an intense kaleidoscope of colors. (We are going to bet his high school English teacher loved that metaphor.)

The extraordinary experience was unlike he could have ever expected in his wildest dreams as Hofmann hadn’t even considered the groovy compound to be of a psychedelic nature. Colors brightened and pulsated as objects warped and distorted, giving a funhouse mirror vibe.

Once he reached home, Hofmann phoned his doc, who came rushing over to check on him. The doctor found no lethal signs and no physical abnormalities, aside from the dilated pupils. After realizing he wasn’t going to die or in any danger, Hofman’s worry faded almost instantly. 

Then, Hofmann sat back and decided to… enjoy the ride. He became way more relaxed (as it is quite hard to relax when you believe you’re totally dying) and just decided to keep looking at the kaleidoscope. 

What Happened After the Bike “Trip”? 

Many decades later, Professor Thomas B. Roberts would christen the 19th of April “Bicycle Day” in commemoration of the colorful experiment. Word spread like wildfire, and Bicycle Day became celebrated as a pivotal point in the history of psychedelics.  

That trippy day back in 1943 marked the beginning of a new era in psychiatry, neurophysiology, chemistry, and the cultural fabric of the 20th century. The epic discovery profoundly influenced social change in the 60s, as well as the evolution of music, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts. 

But all that aside, Hofman’s experiment presented a doorway through which humanity could attempt a deeper understanding of human consciousness.  

Where Is “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” Now? 

After that infamous trippy bike ride, Hofmann was dubbed the scientist-godfather of psychedelics, a term coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond based on the Greek words for “mind-revealing.” (Pretty fitting, if you ask us.)

From there, it didn’t take long until the hallucinogenic hit the streets. Then, by the 1960s, it was a pretty popular recreational “mind-expanding” drug. It was even encouraged by many prominent figures as it was believed to spread peace and love. But this all took a turn for the worst when the ugly side of LSD eventually came to light. 

Reports of mental breakdowns, criminal acts, accidents, and murders, as well as psychotic reactions to the drug, hit the news, and in 1965, the manufacture, sale, possession, and use were made illegal in the United States

Shortly after, Hofmann retired from his life as a chemist and devoted his time to travel, writing, and lectures, which often reflected his growing interest in philosophy. He remained active in the small picturesque village in the Jura mountains, where he called home until passing away at the age of 102 on April 29, 2008. 

Hold Up: What Is LSD? 

Otherwise known as “acid,” LSD is short for lysergic acid diethylamide. Arguably the most powerful mind-altering drug on the planet, the effects of LSD can last up to 12 hours, leaving you to hallucinate, see beautiful vibrant colors, and watch the wall “breath.” Unless, of course, you have a bad trip, then you’re SOL. 

Before we explain what a bad trip is, it might be helpful to understand what a “trip” is. We’ll explain: 

Simply put, a trip is a period of intoxication from a hallucinogenic drug, like LSD or magic mushrooms. It’s called a “trip” because your perceptions of the world change so dramatically, it can feel as if you’ve taken a quick little trip to a strange, unfamiliar wacky new land.

When you’re on one, you may feel a sense of euphoria. Human interactions may seem more deep and meaningful, and life may seem extra bliss. This would be considered a “good” trip. 

A bad trip, on the other hand, may leave you feeling especially upset, fearful, paranoid, and anxious. You may even see, feel, or hear unpleasant things that are distorted or have no basis in reality, which can quickly result in panic.  

Whether a trip is good or bad, the emotions that come along for the ride can be difficult to control, overwhelming, and might feel as though they will never go away — which can be especially scary if they are bad ones!

How To Celebrate Bicycle Day

For science nerds everywhere, Bicycle Day is a lot like Christmas. Except that instead of celebrating Santa riding through the sky on his sleigh or the birth of Jesus — they celebrate the birth of something a bit more trippy: LSD

So, how does one celebrate the groovy holiday, you ask? 

We’ve got a few ideas:

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 take your bike for a spin around the local park or go on a long-haul ride across the country — it all counts. 

You see, the reason why Hofmann had to ride his trusty bike that one fateful day is because cars were banned at the time due to wartime restrictions. However, on a lovely spring day in April, there really is no better way to travel. 

So pack a lunch, grab a water bottle and start peddling — the world is your oyster. 

Roll a Fatty 

You can’t get high on LSD, but if it’s legal in your state, you can on marijuana.

That being said, we’d like to go ahead and point out that, by chance or by fate, the world now has a two-day-long drug holiday. Yep, it’s true: Bicycle Day and 4/20 are now a nexus that blurs many participants into a long hazy bender. And we’re totally here for it.

So roll one up for the Holidaze to commemorate not just the daddy of LSD, but our favorite green, too. 

Try Spin Class 

If you’ve never taken a spin class, then you’re missing out. These classes are full of “high” energy and can really make you sweat. Besides, what better way to celebrate Bicycle Day than by trying something new that also involves bikes?   

Take a Trip 

No, not a psychedelic trip, silly! After all, LSD is illegal. But don’t worry, you can still take a trip — like a road trip. Or a camping trip. Or a beach trip. Or a cruise...trip (?). 

Look, it doesn’t have to be so much as a trip than an adventure. Take a trip to the city or the mountains. Go on a group tour, consider volunteering, take a drive to visit a distant relative. 

Or, just take a trip to our website and be amazed by our massive inventory of premium quality t-shirts and apparel. Now that sounds like our kinda trip! 

Get High

Why not celebrate Bicycle Day high as a kite… on a hot air balloon! 

Spend the afternoon high in the sky, quietly soaring above the treetops with a glass of bubbly in hand. You probably won’t get as high as Hofman when he tripped on acid, but we’re sure you’ll be pretty close. 

Watch a Trippy Movie 

Prefer to stay inside this Bicycle Day? Grab some popcorn, get comfy on the couch and expand your mind with a trippy movie. Depending on your mood, you can either laugh hysterically at a top-notch comedy or get lost in something a bit more magical. 

Not feeling a movie? Try a cool documentary instead. Anything with animals is usually a guaranteed good time. You’re welcome. 

Do Some Science 

Bicycle Day is all about science. So why not do a cool science experiment? Obviously, you can’t make LSD, but you can make a rainbow in a bottle. Or build a volcano out of modeling clay. Or construct a homemade lava lamp. Or send a soda geyser into the sky.

You can even crystalize your own rock candy, make frozen slime, or roast marshmallows over an open fire — just don’t forget the graham crackers!

Buy a Groovy Shirt 

If you ask us, there’s arguably no better way to celebrate Bicycle Day than by purchasing an undeniably groovy t-shirt. After all, April 19th will come and go, but your new sweet tee will last forever. #JustSaying

Not sure where to get some totally rad threads? Check out our inventory here at Famous IRL

We’ve got comfy t-shirts, breezy tanks, cozy sweatshirts, and warm hoodies. We also have the coolest socks, sweet dad hats, and awesome mugs for your favorite morning brew. 

Whether you’re in the mood for something psychedelic or a bit more plant-based, you can count on us to have just what you need to look and feel your best. Shirts so cool, even Hofmann would be impressed.

Tipping Our Hats To One Groovy Ride 

Sure, Christmas is cool, and Halloween is pretty great. We can also get down with 4/20 and appreciate a good egg hunt every once in a while. But when it comes to the best holiday on the planet, there’s no denying that Bicycle Day doesn’t reign supreme. 

Ok, perhaps we’re being a bit dramatic, but you get the point. 

It’s a day to commemorate an inquisitive Swiss chemist who experienced the world’s first-ever full-on acid trip. After ingesting way too much LSD and being forced to ride his bike home from work due to wartime laws, Arthur Hofman went on the trip (literally) of his life. 

A skeptic would ask: Why are we celebrating drug use? Isn’t that… well.. bad

Maybe. But when you really think about it, holidays can be about “bad” things too. For instance, Halloween is about dead people, and Valentine’s Day spawned from execution, but nobody’s really pro-death, right?

After all, Bicycle Day isn’t necessarily a day to celebrate LSD, no way. You see, in reality, it’s a day to celebrate science. A day to commemorate a groovy scientific milestone and an advancement in medicine. In other words, it’s a day for the nerds. (#WeLoveNerds)

Here in the 21st century, LSD is illegal in the beautiful US of YAY, but purchasing trippy apparel isn’t! Celebrate Bicycle Day in style this year with some cool threads, your bike, and the wind in your hair. And if you happen to party too hard, don’t even sweat it. The day after Bicycle Day is 4/20, so kick your feet up, light up, and relax

Happy Holidaze, friends. Stay groovy.


The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day | NPR

Hallucinogens - Lsd - Drug, Hofmann, Diethylamide, and Substance | JRank Articles

The History of LSD - Acid, Albert Hoffman & Timothy Leary | Drug Free World

8 Awesomely Simple Science Experiments You Can Do at Home | Business Insider

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