Most people are familiar with the term “420,” a day celebrated in cannabis culture, but there’s another significant drug-related celebration this month that often doesn’t get as much attention: Bicycle Day.

Bicycle Day, observed on April 19, pays homage to the discovery of LSD’s effects by its inventor, following a peculiar bicycle ride he took while under the influence.

The story begins with Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who on April 16, 1943, was synthesizing LSD in an attempt to create a stimulant for respiratory and circulatory problems. Unbeknownst to Hofmann, he had accidentally created a substance with psychedelic properties. During his work, he inadvertently absorbed a small amount of the drug through his skin. This led to an unexpected and profound experience.

In his book “LSD: My Problem Child,” Hofmann recounts how he felt compelled to leave his lab due to a combination of restlessness and mild dizziness. Once home, he experienced a continuous flow of extraordinary images, vibrant shapes, and an intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. This initial accidental trip lasted about two hours.

Driven by curiosity, Hofmann decided to experiment further with the substance. On April 19, precisely at 4:20 p.m., he deliberately ingested 250 micrograms of LSD, a significantly larger dose than what had previously entered his system. The effects were far more intense this time, including severe dizziness, visual distortions, feelings of paralysis, and an uncontrollable urge to laugh. Hofmann struggled to record his observations, noting the difficulty in writing his last words during the experiment.

Due to wartime restrictions on vehicle use, Hofmann and a laboratory assistant had to use bicycles to return to his home. During the ride, he experienced alarming perceptual changes, where everything around him seemed distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. He felt immobilized, despite actually moving quite swiftly on his bike.

This profound journey is now celebrated annually by LSD enthusiasts. However, the story often omits the troubling experiences Hofmann endured upon reaching his home. He faced terrifying visions and fears of death or madness, but after a doctor assured him he was physically safe, his anxiety began to subside, and he started to appreciate the experience.

Despite the challenges during his initial encounters with LSD, Hofmann became a prominent proponent of the therapeutic potentials of LSD and psilocybin, distancing himself from the controversial aspects of the psychedelic movement he inadvertently helped kickstart in the 1960s. His pioneering work and the intriguing story of that first significant trip continue to resonate today, commemorated every year on Bicycle Day.