Tales of a bike messenger / acid head

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Photo by Christopher Isherwood (who is NOT the bike messenger below). Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

A fellow who calls himself Muksi likes to trip on LSD while on the job as a San Francisco bike messenger. He wrote about what it is like on Erowid, an online library of drug information and experiences.

To describe the experience of putting my life in the hands of the San Fransisco Traffic God's while the sky melds together in an amalgous orgasm of blue and magenta and while cars leave such profoundly solid tracers behind them that I can't tell whether they're limousines or not is, essentially, impossible. The experience is just fucking ludicrous. I've been bombing hills at 35 miles an hour before only to have taxi cars open their doors in front of me with only ten feet to brake. I've been within inches of been piledrived by several ton cars in direct oncoming traffic. On one occasion, the quick release on my primary brakes snapped while I hauled ass down one of the steepest streets in the city (which is really saying something, if you've ever been to San Fransisco before), forcing me to simultaneously wedge my foot between my front wheel and my front forks to slow myself down while navigating my bike through two massive four way intersections. I was a half second away from getting anally raped between a bright silver Hummer and a half lime-green/half hot-pink sedan. I suspect that this was not the actual colour of the vehicle.

To do what I do, I have to be paying attention 100% of the time. My peripheral vision and reflexes are my best friends. Acid is not a drug that lends itself to fast reflexes, however; it feels like I have ADHD on higher doses of psychedelics. 'Oh boy, look at that beautiful tree! Gee, don't you just love nature? Holy fuck, the sky! Goddamn, that cloud just turned into two ninjas fighting each other! I love you sky, you're so blue and beautiful.' On my early days of trip-cycling, I would occasionally find myself zoning out for short periods of time, too interested in the patterns on the asphalt below me or the height of the skyscrapers above me to remember that I was in a life or death situation. These sorts of distractions usually ended like this: 'Jesus, look at the floral designs on the pavement, doesn't that just look HOOOOOONK SQUEEEEEEAL FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK A CAR!!'

Note: I don't think he should take drugs and ride a bike. Tales of an SF Bike Messenger/Acid Addict (Via DoseNation)


  1. Why do cyclists assume that they are the only ones at risk? As if a bike couldn’t cause a car accident.

    1. I don’t think cyclists do assume that they are the only ones at risk. But when 95%* of the time its the cyclist going to be dead or maimed, its not surprising that they put more weight on it.

      Plus considering how cavalier this guy is with his own life, I’m not sure how much he really cares about any accident hypothetically caused.

      *number entirely fabricated

      1. Oh please. I spent more tine on my bicycle than in a car and know that cyclists are at a a bigger risk, but sheesh.. There are as many irresponsible cyclists around as are drivers. And which they move less mass and are thus less harmful and less dangerous, the keyword here is “less”.

        If’d run over a child or a frail senior, hospitalization or even death wouldn’t be unlikely events.

        And then there’s followup accidents – I once had to do a full stop (in a car) because some idiot cyclist left a pedestrian zone at a speed of about 45 km/h. In this case, it sopped with a strained neck, but only slight moderations could have made this into a significant accident.

        I believe this year we actually had two pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists, both leaving the scene of the accident.

  2. Doctor Hoffman pioneered bicycle tripping.
    However, I do think a country lane would be preferable.

  3. I was a bike messenger in SF for awhile. What he describes is not too different from the normal experience. A friend described it as trying to occupy the empty space left by society. If anyone actually wants to be where you are, and you are relying on them to see you, sooner or later you will be dead.

    I have also played foosball on acid. I’m pretty decent at foosball, but on an absurd amount of acid, I was unbeatable. I could somehow see exactly how the ball was spinning and where it was going.

    So anyway, I don’t actually see being on acid while bicycling as that unsafe, or any more unsafe than normal messengering.

  4. Bicycles and LSD go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Virtually infinite energy combined with heightened awareness, lack of fear or hesitation, and the kind of in-tuneness that only psychedelics can offer is a fucking WIN.

  5. I don’t think he’s an asshole. My friends & I would drive around while mega-dosed on very clean lsd. eventually, after doing this 3-5 times a week, it became not just second nature but “normal.” the mind can adjust to anything..and, fwiw, I’ve had some of the best psychedelic experiences in my life while in a car.

    I don’t think “luck” had anything to do with not hurting myself or other people. It has to do with being aware of one’s limits & one’s potential. Unless you’ve ever done psychedelics several times a week for very extended periods of time…then, you just really can’t relate to what one’s consciousness becomes.

    very, very interesting story.

    ps: my comment is entirely fictitious, made-up, not real. For entertainment purposes only. And, furthermore, driving, biking or doing anything while on psychedelics is illegal & totally stupid.

  6. Oh but yeah, not in populated areas with cars and such, just to clarify. And while the poster says that “Acid is not a drug that lends itself to fast reflexes”, which may be his experience, mine has always been the opposite.

    1. I agree with you. Leary (and others) thought it was entirely possible to breach the 1/20th second lapse between external stimuli & internal processing.

      I have experienced that breach (or so I thought) on several occasions…and in several ways.

      1. I was once chased by the cops for being out past curfew on a bicycle, and I was barreling down what was becoming more and more apparently a dead end, and finding myself first throwing a full sized bicycle over a 6 foot fence with room to spare, and then myself immediately after, and getting on and taking off again full throttle without even thinking about it like im fucking Jackie Chan or something. no way I could pull that one off in any other circumstance.

  7. This goes a long way toward explaining the two-wheeled reaper-baiting that one sees every day in SF. A guy on an uncorked Ducati weaving maniacally through dense 60 mph traffic on the bay bridge last Monday comes to mind.

  8. I sometimes wig out on pure existence like that while biking and I don’t even do drugs (much). Don’t worry about me, though. I must have rode a distance of around the planet once in and around the city of Amsterdam by now with no damage to mention.

  9. Leary (and others) thought it was entirely possible to breach the 1/20th second lapse between external stimuli & internal processing.

    On the surface it may sound silly, but I read about some interesting research about how the brain delays processing of many kinds of input such that the slowest signals (such as those from the tips of the toes) are processed in sync with the faster signals.

    If this did not occur then we would be able to see a touch on our toes before we could feel it due to the relatively slow rate of nerve conduction.

    Apparently we experience the world with a time lag determined by nerve conduction rates to our most distant body parts (and possibly various in-brain processing latency). This is why cats are better at catching mice than we are. That and the claws.

    So, if frequent tripping affected whatever this delay mechanism is, it might be that one could indeed gain a competitive advantage in games such as foosball, provided you can overcome some of the disadvantages.

    1. Incidentally, this is also why a hampster can bite the holy bejesus out of your finger before you can drop the little bastard.

  10. Christ what an asshole, indeed. Selfish, ignorant, bag of tools.

    As someone who rides a bike in SF, drives a car in SF, and takes LSD in SF (though never simultaneously), we ain’t just talking about loss of consumer goods here, snarky masses. This guy is putting his own life on the line, but also removing the consent of other people on the street to attempt to engage safely and respectfully with other drivers/riders/pedestrians. I have had plenty of near misses with asshole cyclists who are so self-righteous that they are willing to clip pedestrians, cut off cars, and completely ignore traffic laws. And they make it way worse as a bike culture, so that when I commute on my bike, the drivers don’t trust me, and are so paranoid I’m going to pull a douchebag death wish, they drive less safely in general.

    My best hope is that when this guy removes himself from the gene pool, he does so without taking anyone else out with him.

  11. If he’s wearing a helmet, has a light, isn’t dressed completely in black and isn’t listening to death-metal through noise-cancelling headphones, then he’s probably far more safe than many of the cyclists I encounter every day in San Francisco.

  12. I’ve bicycled often in the past while on acid. However, I always made sure it wasn’t in dense or even mediocre traffic. Empty side streets or the sidewalk when necessary.
    Cycling in traffic is just foolish.

  13. With the caveat that I’ve never done LSD, nor read much scientific literature about it, nor been a bike messenger (though I do, more cautiously, use a bike in NYC), this sounds fairly assholish. Honestly, even if he was only endangering himself, it would still be a dick move to whoever ends up killing him.

    With the same caveats, might I suggest the possibility that the increases in reflexes observed by some commenters might be perceived but not real? Or they are real, but YMMV?

    1. I am not one to encourage the abuse of LSD like this – not even with a winking disclaimer implying it’s okay – but there is a lot of weird stuff that LSD does to the brain that is not all negative. Reflexes are neurological and there’s no reason that LSD couldn’t make them faster. It’s widely known to be an incredible concentration and alertness aid in sub-psychedelic doses. (One example usage as such was, unfortunately, the terrorist attacks in India in late 2008.)

      Certainly YMMV, but that’s true of any substance or any experience on the planet.

    2. “might I suggest the possibility that the increases in reflexes observed by some commenters might be perceived but not real? Or they are real, but YMMV?”

      the bike over the 6 foot fence incident is completely true. i’ve also climbed a 250 foot redwood in the dark, to the tip, on LSD. it’s like the opposite of being drunk when it comes to agility, so much so that you cross over to better-than-sober mode.

  14. We messengered and rode our asses off tripping like mofos all over NYC throughout the 80’s. Big F’ing Deal.

    If you’re not a dumbass and you’re competent on the bike it’s a non-issue.

  15. Fortunately, as a bicyclist, at least he is the one most likely to be maimed/killed in an accident due to his recklessness. Sadly if he hit a pedestrian that may not be the case.

  16. What a spoiled, self-righteous, entitled douchebag adrenaline junkie. It’s like he embodies absolutely everything that’s wrong with “kids these days”, and I say this as a lazy 25 year old grad student and occasional drug user. I had no idea nihilism could be so aggressive and narcissistic.

  17. I’ve taken LSD numerous times, and I agree that there are times when you become more focused, agile, etc. Problem is you can’t depend on that– LSD is unpredictable, and the effects change over the course of a trip.

    But this is all besides the point because there’s no such thing as “Traffic Gods,” only other people in cars. And these people might not know that the bicyclist speeding down the street next to them is having a magenta orgasm.

    If you were driving and hit this guy (say when his super LSD agility failed him for a second), you’d probably go to jail for manslaughter. In any case his parents would hit you with a civil suit and probably win because you’re in the car and he’s dead.

    And suppose you avoided the legal system, your life would still be screwed up because you killed someone.

    This guy sucks.

    1. You’d be charged with manslaughter if . . . you lived in Portland – ? I’ve ridden a bike on city streets for years and known many other people who have, and, partly because of irresponsible people like this tripping messenger (it must be said), it’s a pretty safe bet that whenever there’s a question of liability a cop will side with a motorist. The law says bikes are traffic (and in most places it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk), but in practice cyclists simply do not have the same legal rights as motorists.

  18. You beat me to it, Blacksquare – from all reports, it seems the stuff is unpredictable in its effects on different people, even with controlled purity (which you don’t get on the streets).
    That’s also the basic reason that it would make a bad battlefield weapon – some non-zero percentage of the enemy forces could become very very good at what they are doing – the exact opposite of the effects you’d be after if you were to deploy it in that scenario.

    From what I know, under the influence of LSD, some people can really pull it together, while other people completely fall apart.
    And you cannot tell in advance which will occur, for a given person, with a given dose.

    OTOH a I’ve never been any kind of regular user: so people who are more experienced would know much more about it, as is usually the case in life.
    The above info as to its potential use as a weapon, I recall reading within some scholarly compendium dealing with the chemistry and effects of many different drugs, years and years ago.

    My guess is that little has been learned in the intervening decades because of (IMO ill-thought-out) governmental bans on any further research about this rather interesting stuff.

    1. Off topic sorta, but this has always bugged me…

      …the stuff is unpredictable in its effects on different people, even with controlled purity (which you don’t get on the streets).

      There are almost no substances on earth that have any effect at the doses LSD is taken at. There’s nothing you can lace it with, there’s no way impurities can affect the experience. There’s no such thing as dirty acid, there’s no such thing as different batches giving different highs. I wish people would stop perpetuating this myth. All acid is either 100% LSD or it’s not acid at all.

      Yes, it’s unpredictable, yes, trips vary hugely, but that’s all set and setting, all psychological makeup, all mood and surroundings.

      1. “There’s no such thing as dirty acid, there’s no such thing as different batches giving different highs.”

        Hear, hear.

        And yeah, it might work for him. It works like that for me at times. It might not work like that for you.

        Boing boing has taught me a lot about the ugly side of human nature. People think their opinions matter! They’ll log on just to talk angry, cruel shit about someone else’s art!

        A little off-topic, perhaps, but I do suspect that we have in this thread a few experienced souls who can identify, a few experienced souls saying it may work but is reckless, and a few ignorant people (meant in the exact sense, not the pejorative) talking mad, angry shit.

        Anywho. Best of luck. Sounds fun as hell. And whats with all the acid around here lately?

      2. way back when, I only trusted “blotter” to be LSD: the other microdots, etc. may have been a mix of speed and strychnine, for all I know.

        LSD is not easy to make, AFAIK.
        And if it needs to be manufactured, then there’s room for impurities and mistakes.

        As I’ve aged, I’ve felt less and less need to get out of my head…but when I do, I prefer to use things which grow out of the ground. Washed down with a Don Equus.

        1. I lie: I much prefer a well-made Indian Pale Ale, over that Don Equus (Mr Horse!?)
          But this post has now put me in mind of other things which I once enjoyed, years and years and years ago: and so, I shall purchase some Stout the next time that I stock my fridge.

          Thanxs, BoingBoing, for bringing back nearly dormant memories!

        2. You don’t understand… LSD is THE ONLY THING active in those doses. It wouldn’t matter if there was impurities, because they would be in such small amounts they could not have any effect on you. The active dose of LSD is a few millionths of a gram. The active dose of strychnine is more like half a gram, thousands of times more. If you put a lsd sized dose of strychnine onto blotter, you’d have to take thousands and thousands of them for the strychnine to ever have any effect at all.

          Yes, LSD is difficult to make, but so is strychnine. It’s still completely feasible to make a few hundred thousand doses of acid in a day, at under a tenth of a cent each. If you screw up any part of the process, it simply doesn’t work, you don’t end up with LSD. There’s no such thing as impurities that affect the tone of the experience. Any impurities are completely and utterly insignificant, and have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the trip.

          I’ll say it again, there is no such thing as dirty acid. It’s a myth. It just doesn’t work that way. Oh, and apparently strychnine is one of the most bitter substances on earth and there’s no way you wouldn’t notice it.

  19. I’ve noticed some less than sober messengers in my building and always sign for whatever they’ve got as soon as I see them so they can get the hell out. Why? Because its a building filled with Feds. I envy them and hate working for The Man but bills gotta be paid.

    I used to do LSD a lot. Making your way through normal every day life on LSD can be disconcerting but if you roll with it it’s poetry in motion. You perceive the underlying interplay of action/reaction, find your groove and then your movements become fluid and waste-less. It seems as if the world is reveled and you are “in” on the joke. I gave it up except for special occasions when my son moved in with me. I want him to make his own decisions about substances. But, personally, I couldn’t imagine my life without the rewards of the substances I’ve imbued. The insights they’ve provided cannot be measured for worth.

    1. Anon #33: Geez…this old fart has not even heard about, much less seen, acid or LSD offered for sale since about… 1977? Time flies. So it’s still circulating around out there somewhere, is it?

      Psylocibin mushrooms, OTOH, seem to be around once in a while: but never for sale, at least to me. Friends occasionally offer me some – about once a year, now that I come to think about it. They find it growing wild on their hikes.

      I cannot say that I regret living in a low-psychedelic environment. As far as I’m concerned a little of that stuff goes an awful long way. Decades, it now seems.

  20. this story reminds me of a friend of mine who loves to skydive whilst tripping. he swears by it as “the ultimate in overcoming the perceived boundaries of the human experience.” personally, taking a shit on lsd is about as extreme as it gets for me.

  21. News Flash to the indignant:

    The motor codes of most states require (That is, it is MANDATORY) for automobile drivers to drive safely and share the road with bicyclists.

    Most require (That’s MANDATORY) that automobile drivers treat bicycles as they would any other vehicle on the road.

    With the notable exception of highways.

    Thus, it is beholden to all automobile drivers to

    A: Be aware of bicyclists;
    B: Adjust their driving to accommodate the bicyclists;
    C: Be aware that they themselves are operating a half-tonne machine, classed by most state penal codes as a deadly weapon, at speed, and thus have the primary responsibility for safety of other people who are around them, whether they are pedestrians, bicyclists, automobile drivers, or motorcyclists.

    You have no way to know whether the bicyclist is sober, drunk, high, or tripping balls, but you are still responsible for operating your automobile in a safe manner. It’s a privilege, not a right.

    (disclaimer IANAL IANYL ATINLA)

  22. My experience working in bicycle-messenger-heavy parts of San Francisco is that they’re generally all running on lots of adrenaline and testosterone, with optional additives of caffeine, speed, or substances in between. And low-quality LSD often gets described as “speedy”; except for the fact that you’re hallucinating while doing dangerous things involving hills that can kill you, cars that actively want to kill you, and pedestrians getting in your way because they’re not paying attention, it might be a really fun combination. I’ve only been assaulted by drivers a couple of times while biking in San Francisco, and being on acid to balance out the fact that the bar-bouncer-sized driver was probably on meth would really not have helped the situation, though the time when the teenage kids threw sticky red soda at me might have actually been more fun that way.

    Going really fast while tripping can be a lot of fun, but riding the subway or an IMAX movie is a much safer way to do it, or walking in the park where the wind feels like it’s pushing you at 500mph. But hallucinations in actually dangerous situations risk killing other people, not just yourself.

  23. I doubt I would ever try cycling while tripping, but I have done radio shows, with regular breaks, for three hours at a time at nine in the morning, all tripping balls on roughly 300 mcg of the good stuff. Personally, I think biking alone is enough of an awareness expansion. I’m used to biking along a debris-filled median of a 55mph highway in a southern city with no regard for a bike, much less anything smaller than a full-size pickup, and I can’t see how LSD would make that anything more than a bad trip.

  24. It doesn’t sound like fun, being under the influence of something that makes it very interesting to look at things you want to look at, while being surrounded by traffic that you have to look at.

    Biking on marijuana always made me want to exert myself really hard and do things like climb steep hills in high gear. The best experience was riding on a bike path covered with 3 feet of water during the 1993 floods.

  25. “towelhead taxi drivers”

    Is racism part of the acid experience?

    What a self-indulgent, utterly tedious tool.

  26. Well, I just hope this idiot is self-limiting and doesn’t take anyone else with him when he exits this existence.

    There’s plenty of “Oh wow!” and “Amazing!” in the real world, but I suppose if he’s exhausted all the possibilities available in reality, and he feels the need to live with with his brain re-wired into disney-mode, that’s okay.

    But NOTHING justifies his playing russian-roulette with other people’s lives.

  27. The prose of the experience is fascinating in a horrifying way. I’m not against someone tripping while bicycle riding. Do it in a controlled environment and it’s fine.

    But the idea that this guy is “proud” of weaving in/out of traffic and putting himself and others at risk is quite arrogant, selfish and dangerous. This is past being an asshole. The guy is an arrogant self-important risk to others.

    And anyone saying I am being prudish, in all honesty when Diane Schuler—including her daughter and 3 nieces—back in the summer of 2009 would her behavior been excused if she lived and wrote some nice prose about what it felt like to be intoxicated and driving the wrong way down the highway?

    Seriously, this guy needs to get some therapy or stopped. He’s basically proudly talking about his extended attempts at a cowardly suicide in which he hurts himself—and others—because of his actions.

    This post and the implicit approval of his behavior are quite sickening.

  28. Not knowing this guy or how his mind works, I am not going to call him an asshole or say what he does is any more dangerous to himself or others than riding the bike ‘sober’ would be. LSD is one hell of a drug and it is plausible that this guy is more focused when biking on acid than when on caffeine or nicotine or whatever drugs we consider safe to drive on.

  29. I would never advise anybody, I mean anybody, including this guy, to go “play” out in the traffic – no matter what condition they are in.
    That said, this guy is endangering himself, more than anybody around him ensconced, as they are, within the security of an automotive exo-skeleton.
    I’ve seen all kinds of examples of reckless and careless driving (and cycling) in my years watching through the windshield, and although I doubt that many of those were tripping or drunk, I still think that ANY kind of reckless or careless conduct on the highways is, and ought to be, criminal.

    But is what this guy does, and the way that he does it IN FACT reckless and careless?
    On that, I respectfully with-hold my judgment, pending further evidence. LSD is not alcohol or barbituates, after all – so, I cannot say for certain that he is in fact “impaired” in a manner sufficient to be found guilty of that, either.

  30. Yep, definite asshole, sociopathic material.

    Now having said that, the first time I tried the same thing was in the mountains. I can definitely confirm that dexterity & reflexes improved to the point that friends were referring to me as a gazelle.

    That being said, no lives were endangered due to my actions.

  31. He’s a sociopathic jerk, all right – but mostly because of how he rides, not whether or not he’s tripping when he does it.

    It’s even possible that the acid makes him a somewhat safer rider – it certainly has impressed upon him the need for constant conscious attention – a lesson more than a few riders and drivers could stand to learn, even if they’re not on acid.

    My own observations and experiences suggest that performance on tasks requiring fast responses isn’t compromised – and may even be improved – by LSD as long as the necessity for rigorously focused attention is understood by the tripper.

    Of course, most such things work a whole lot better if you understand that you need to pay carefully attention, tripping or not.

    The idea that time spent driving or riding is “wasted” if you’re not talking on the phone or singing along with the radio or texting or just daydreaming is the source of much of the most dangerous behavior on the road.

    When you’re piloting a vehicle that can kill people, PAY ATTENTION.

    Even if you’re not on acid.

  32. This guy, by his very existence, has just invalidated all arguments against the War On Drugs. At least in his case, Nixon and Reagan were right.

  33. Jack and Jill
    Went up the Hill
    To Fetch a pail of water
    Jack fell down
    And broke his crown
    And Jill came tumbling after

  34. Sorry, this guy is a douchenugget. Enough of the “cyclists can do no wrong” crap, can we all agree that driving a vehicle of any sort while in a position to hurt/maim/kill oneself and others and while under the influence of any intoxicant or hallucinogen is bad, ok?

    1. If by “bad” you mean “contrary to law and punishable upon conviction”, you are of course correct: IIRC “DUI” means “driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs”: whether or not those drugs (or alcohol) enhance, or degrade, the performance of the person in question.

      This kind of behavior is best indulged in, if it must be indulged in at all, well off the public highways and by-ways.

  35. Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Someone is in a car. Biker on acid does some crazy shit. Car swerves away. Someone gets hurt.

    1. #1, you’re starting to get a little far-fetched in your hypothesis construction, and #2, if you choose to drive something as dangerous to others as a car, you have a responsibility to anticipate that stuff could go wrong, and prepare for it.

      John Pucher’s talk on cycling for everyone (Google will get you there) includes a little bit about the driving exam in some northern European country. If you don’t pick out the person at the edge of the street as a concern, you fail.

      If the bike swerves and you weren’t ready with a safe plan, that’s your fault. It’s always possible to drive more carefully (e.g., slower, even stopping when you don’t like what you see in front of you), it was your choice not to. If you don’t like that, then don’t drive.

  36. i recall an article many years ago (in the smithsonian, maybe?) by a manhattan bike messenger who worked stoned…he also talked about moving with the flow of traffic, seeing the voids & following them:-)

    and don’t 4get: the 1st trip on a bike;-)

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