When you think back to your childhood, have you ever wondered how far it was to ride your bike to the public library, or your school? Or the mall, your friend's house or egads, Stan's Donuts? Well, thanks to Google Maps, you can figure it out (and please don't tell me that I'm the last person on earth to think of this).
What brought this up was a post by Katie J, where she wrote about walking in Central Park - the very same Central Park that I hung out in as a teenager. Our library was on the edge of the park, and I used to ride my bike there all the time - I would check out way too many books to carry home, and yet somehow I managed the 2 mile round trip. I biked all over town, and now I know that it was 1.5 miles each way to my high school, 2.5 miles to the mall, and a mile to Barbara's house. Nowhere was super far, but I probably rode at least 3 miles most days, usually more.
So apparently I got a lot of exercise when I was a teenager, even though I didn't think of bike riding as such back then. If I didn't bike somewhere, I usually walked. I don't think the concept of "Mom's Taxi" was around back then - at least it wasn't for me and my friends. If we wanted to go to each other's house, we got ourselves there. Luckily for us, our town was very pedestrian-friendly, with sidewalks everywhere, along with great bike lanes. Plus, the weather in Northern California was much more conducive to getting somewhere without ending up a sweaty mess, or worse yet, with heatstroke (hello, Texas!). And guess what? I was in pretty good shape, although in my later teenage years I didn't think so. For someone who tried very hard to avoid doing anything in P.E., I actually was exercising!
But I wonder - as I ride my five miles around my neighborhood in the evenings, getting my exercise - if I lived now in a town like the one I grew up in, would I ride my bike to the library? At this point in my journey to health and fitness, I'd like to think so. Maybe one of these days we'll move to a more pedestrian-friendly area and I'll get the chance to find out. In the meantime, I'm looking back and feeling pretty good about my activity level as a teenager now!
*Yeah, sorry about putting that song in your head!