“I want to ride my bicycle / I want to ride my bike / I want to ride my bicycle / I want to ride it where I like.” Freddie Mercury, Bicycle Race, 1978
Happy Bicycle Day!
Okay, outside of a mawful of ancient hippies (ahem), there aren’t a hell of a lot of people who know about Bicycle Day, and I suspect some who have heard of it couldn’t care less. How’s that for seducing you into reading further?
Tomorrow’s holiday, 420, is better known these days with the legalization of adult recreational cannabis sweeping the nation. There’s a lot I can say about that, and I probably will — tomorrow. As I said, today is Bicycle Day. First things first.
Way back in 1938, a Swiss scientist named Albert Hoffman synthesized a respiratory and circulatory stimulant named lysergic acid diethylamide, or as it is more popularly known, LSD. He then put it aside for five years. Evidently his employer, Sandoz (a great name, since abandoned), really wasn’t concerned about return on investment. Dr. Hoffman rediscovered his chemical creation during the height of World War II and he promptly did what anybody who was stuck in the middle of the second war to end all wars would do — he ingested the stuff. Evidently, that wasn’t his plan; he said some of it sort of spilled on him while he was re-synthesizing. Or, as The Fugs said, “it crawled into my hand, honest.” I don’t know why Hoffman was covering his ass, as nobody had invented a test for LSD use at the time.
About an hour later, Dr. Hoffman felt very restless and slightly dizzy. “At home, I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed… I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away,” Albert revealed in 1980.
Three days later, Hoffman tried it again, this time most certainly on purpose, and he did so at the lab. He was taken home to sleep it off – on a bicycle! This bicycle ride taken during the first intentional LSD trip by its creator first was celebrated in 1985 as Bicycle Day at Northern Illinois University. Thanks to Covid, I am sitting at home in the Atlantic Northeast and not on a bicycle riding through the streets of DeKalb — as if I’d ever done that in the past.
LSD’s potential as a treatment for depression and other serious mental health conditions has been well considered for about 70 years. Lately, the concept of using various psychedelic drugs (including mushrooms) as treatment has undergone serious reconsideration, and the medicinal use of such substances is being renewed in several states. Recreational use is also under consideration; evidently, while cannabis is not the gateway drug President Biden and other science-deniers claim it is, legalization of recreational marijuana may very well be. Nonetheless, some very hopeful and positive results with respect to depression and sundry mental health conditions have been reported.
(I am assuming “mental health conditions” remains the politically correct way of referring to it this week. I don’t know; the American Psychiatric Association can’t update its DSM-5 fast enough.)
I admire Dr. Hoffman’s reaction to his own experiment. Mind you, experimenting on yourself in a non-clinical setting might not be the smartest move you could make. To quote the great Johnny Knoxville, “Hey, kids, don’t try this at home!”
If you find yourself without two-wheeled transport today, there is another way to celebrate the holiday. Drew Carey, of television and stand-up comedy fame, has been doing a truly terrific free-form rock and roll show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage every Friday for several years now, and tonight — yeah, it’s Monday, not Friday — Carey is broadcasting a special Bicycle Day tribute to psychedelic rock on SiriusXM channel 21 today from 10 pm to midnight EDT.
Leave it to Drew Carey to come up with the on-target way of celebrating Bicycle Day, a day of invention, innovation, introspection, and independence.
As for the use of psychedelic drugs in the 21st century — hey, folks, it’s a brave new world.