Honolulu Advertiser, May 3, 2007
By Paula Rath
Mikelanjelo Conrad, a 30-year-old bike messenger who says he’s addicted
to getting high on endorphins, zips along Bethel Street in downtown
As a bike messenger, it's not unusual for Mikelanjelo Conrad to start
downtown and ride to Aloha Air Cargo on the 'ewa side of the airport,
to travel from Chinatown to Kahala Mall, and from Bethel Street to the
upper reaches of Nu'uanu, all in a single day's work.
It takes a tremendous level of fitness to power all that motion, day
Conrad wouldn't have it any other way. "I'm freer than I would be in
most jobs. I'm always by myself and don't have a boss looking over my
shoulder. It's a high from the wind blowing in your face, the sun, the
rain," he said.
He found a lifestyle that suits his free spirit just fine. It's
outdoors. It's healthy. It's environmentally sound. And it supports his
passion for keeping fit. Part of the year he is a migrant farmer. In
fact, he leaves Saturday to work in the cornfields of Illinois. Then he
will move on to Maine to pick blueberries, followed by Massachusetts
for the cranberry harvest.
Several years ago, Conrad spent six months on the Big Island, picking
organic coffee and harvesting taro and ginger while living on the
beach. This year, he wintered in Honolulu because he has a brother who
is letting him bunk in his Manoa home.
Biking is a passion and profession for Conrad: "I feel like I'm helping
with the environment," he said. "My goal is to be lighter on the Earth.
More people should get on bikes. And society should make it easier for
people to get on bikes."
The downside of being a bike messenger, of course, is that it can be
dangerous. Conrad has had several minor accidents, in San Francisco and
Honolulu, when motorists opened doors unexpectedly and caused him to go
His next challenge is to ride a bike around the world. He plans to
start in California, ride to New York, fly to Europe and ride from
France to Greece, fly to Israel and bike as much as possible in the
Middle East, followed by India and Malaysia. He'll fly to Australia and
bike across that continent, followed by New Zealand, then back to
"I guess it's in my blood to travel," he said. "My parents were hippies
and total free spirits."
He attributes much of his wanderlust to his grandfather, Max Conrad, a
renowned pilot and adventurer.
My good foods/bad foods: "I eat oatmeal every morning and mix coconut
or apples or bananas into it. It gives me a lot of energy. Otherwise,
I'll eat anything in front of me. I try to eat as healthy as possible,
but if I'm hungry and trying to save a buck, I'll go to McDonald's. I
use dark chocolate and coffee for a quick pick-me-up."
What would we find in your messenger bag? "Probably seeds and nuts. I
eat a lot of them. And maybe an apple or banana. I like to make myself
sprouted bread with peanut butter as a snack when riding."
On your iPod? "Music is really important when I'm working. If I'm not
listening to it, I'm playing it in my head. I like an eclectic mix,
from techno and heavy metal to Indian spiritual music, folk and
classical, if I'm in no hurry to go anywhere."
My biggest motivator: "My favorite motto is: 'True wealth is health.'
That includes spiritual, mental and physical health. If I had millions
of dollars but was unhealthy, what's the point? When I'm healthy, I'm
happy. Exercise keeps me feeling good."
Profession: Bike messenger; itinerant farmer
Weight: 170 pounds
Workout habits: "I try to break a sweat at least once a day — hiking,
biking, snowboarding or skateboarding. I use either a bike or
skateboard for transportation; it gets me breathing well and
exercising. I guess I could say I'm addicted to getting high on
When and why I started working out: "As a child, I imagined I was an
American Indian and would hike in the forests in Pennsylvania where I
grew up. I once read a story about runners who were messengers running
through the woods for hundreds of miles, and I would do that sort of
thing when I was a kid. I got addicted to that active lifestyle."