22 April 2009

Happy Bicycle Day!

Boomtime, Discord 39 - Year of Our Lady of Discord 3175

I missed posting this on the actual day, but 66 years ago this month, Dr. Albert Hofmann had arguably the most famous bicycle rides in the 20th century. The first, on April 16th 1943, from his laboratory at the Sandoz (now Novartis) company to his home, after accidentally absorbing a tiny bit of LSD-25 into the skin of his hand. He wondered at the curious effects of the drug and decided to experiment with a deliberate dose three days later.

He ingested quite a large dose (not realising that LSD should be measured in micrograms, not milligrams) and experienced a full-blown "trip", which lasted several hours. When the drug first affected Dr. Hofmann, he felt the need to go home and again (this time with a lab assistant) rode his bike. He later stated that he seemed to be barely moving, while his assistant told him they had been cycling at a fast speed. When he arrived home, he felt panicky and had a few frightening hallucinations. Later, he was able to relax more and eventually returned to 'everyday' conciousness. With that, what later came to be known as "The Sixties" was effectively in motion.

Here's a video created by David Normal (heh heh - great surname). It's an animated feature depicted Hofmann's first LSD trips. The music is from Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother Suite:

For an added bit of fun - here's Tomorrow's My White Bicycle, one of the pinnacles of English psychedelia. Rumoured to be inspired by Hofmann's experiments, I think it's actually more about the Dutch Provo movement. Could be either, but still a great song and perfect for 'Bicycle Day':

..and coming back to the mighty Floyd, here's a vid of Bike, Syd Barrett's closer to their first full-length, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The photos were taken for a Belgian TV show in February 1968. The sound quality's not the best, but you get the idea. It's been said that the coda represents Syd's increasing 'madness', due to the over-use of psychedelics, but no-one can say for sure.

Albert Hofmann's notes about his experiments can be found here. The great cosmic bike ride continues....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If only Dr. Hoffmann had known how mnay dumb-arsed hippies his discovery would spawn! I'm sure he'd have kept it to himself. ;)

Remember the Nazareth version of 'My White Bicycle'? How come no one ever talks about Nazareth these days? Oh yeah...I remember now!