Charlie's trip to his doctor and his adventure on the treadmill were now behind him; it was time to regain his physical health. He decided the best way was to cycle his way back to health. He remembered the magazine story from the doctor's office of how biking was a low impact way to gradually work off those unwanted pounds around the middle.
Saturday morning came, and as usual, Charlie and his wife were sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. Finally, the question Charlie knew she would ask: "Dear what are we going to do today?"
Without hesitation, Charlie blurted out, "I am going to buy a bicycle today."
With her arms resting on her elbows, as she held the cup of coffee with both hands, his wife said, "And when did we decide this?" Charlie knew this is where experience in answering his wife comes into play after 47 years.
"Dear, I just want to get back into shape, so you will be proud of me."
Yet, after 47 years of marriage, Charlie's wife knew when she was getting the politically correct answer. Her only question was, "How much is this going to cost?"
With that, Charlie smiled, kissed his wife on the cheek, and went for his credit card. As he pulled out of the driveway, he could see his wife standing in the doorway, still drinking her cup of coffee as she watched him leave.
Soon Charlie was looking at a room full of shiny new bicycles. He quickly realized it was not like when he was younger. In those days he could only remember two brands of bikes: Western Flyer and Schwinn. In those days, the very best models had a light and horn built in. He could see these bikes had no horns or lights or fenders, or even a kick stand. Those were all included in his day. And one other thing, the price had gone up from the $39 American Flyer his Dad had bought him from the Western Auto store.
About that time a tall and blonde young man appeared and asked if he could be of assistance. The young man smiled and introduced himself, "My name is Schwinn." Charlie wanted to ask if his last name was Western Flyer but thought the young man may not find any humor in that.
It did not take long for Charlie to be completely lost in Schwinn's talk of gears, cross-country, handgrips, and tire sizes. The magazine said nothing about all this in the article. Finally, he asked the blonde salesman, "What is the most important thing in a selection?"
His response, "How much do you want to spend? The more expensive bikes are made of light-weight alloys. The cheaper ones are made of plain metals." For just a moment, in Charlie's mind, he remembered his wife's words: "How much is this going to cost?"
Charlie finally eyed a bike that was in his price range and he liked the color. "What is this one made of?"
Schwinn looked at the tag and responded, "This is an environmentally friendly bike. It is constructed of recycled metals."
The bike's blue color reminded Charlie of his favorite cans of chili. Somehow, in his mind, he decided it was made from recycled chili bean cans ,and it was the one he wanted.
As he pulled out his credit card to pay, Schwinn said abruptly, "Sir, you will need riding pants, shoes, shirt, and most of all a helmet."
Charlie quickly had an image fill his mind of a fat, gray haired man in a green spandex outfit riding a bike. For some reason his mind envisioned an avocado on a bike.
Schwinn may not have looked like a savvy salesman, but he was able to convince Charlie to buy a helmet and a riding outfit, along with shoes. Schwinn, being the good salesman, also gave Charlie a free water bottle.
Upon arriving home, Charlie's wife had the same look on her face as when her husband had left. The only difference was she asked how much this cost.
Charlie once again fell back to years of training in marriage and said, "Not that much? I Love you."
With that, he gave her a little kiss and took off with his new green spandex outfit to try on.
Shortly thereafter, Charlie reappeared in his new green spandex riding outfit. His wife's expression finally changed. It was somewhere between a giggle and full out laughter.
Charlie never missed a beat as he sucked up that extra 40 pounds under his rib cage and held his breath as he hopped on his new blue chili bean bike.
With a wave of his hand and a toothy smile, he pedaled away for his first bike ride in nearly fifty years. He waited until he was around the corner to breathe and let 40 pounds return to its normal position. Once again his wife, grinning from ear to ear, watched as he disappeared down the driveway.
At first Charlie struggled to work the gears smoothly. But after a short time he began to understand the gears and how they eased the workload, while peddling his blue chili bean special. He even forgot that he looked like a big avocado on a blue bike. Already he could feel the weight falling off alongside the road.
He soon realized that riding along a busy highway had its own set of problems. The rush of air off the big trucks and cars made him uneasy in his ride.
Looking ahead, he saw Paden Fork Road. He knew the road may have less traffic and be easier to ride over. Charlie turned his blue chili bean special onto the road as he began to take on the personality of a Tour de France cyclists.
Leaning into the turns helped to cut wind resistance. He could tell his green spandex riding suit was making a difference as he sped along the empty road. He thought to himself, "Lookout Lance Armstrong, here comes Charlie."
As he neared the crest of the hill, he looked down onto the town of Paden City. Charlie decided to have some fun and coast all the way to the bottom, and then peddle back to the top using the gears on his bike. He felt a great deal of confidence in his new riding abilities. Truth was, it was too much confidence.
As he started down the incline, he saw a small white dog appear out of the tall grass alongside the road. He felt no need for concern at this point. After all the small dog just stood there wagging his tail.
About then, he saw the weeds behind the small dog move in several places. Suddenly four big dogs burst out of the weeds. He could see the dogs had all their teeth and they were coming to make a meal out of Avocado Man.
Charlie was not sure what gear his blue chili bean special was in as he headed down the hill toward Cugo's family. But he passed so quickly, the barking pack could not complete their supper plans.
Paden City hill is steep, curvy and fast. Charlie's inexperience on his bike made it all but impossible to slow his rapid trip down the steep incline. A passing jogger recalled that he was going so fast the blue of the bike and the green of his spandex suit blurred into a streak.
Soon the turn at the bottom of the hill was coming quickly. Charlie was traveling so fast he knew the only way to survive was to turn into the dirt embankment.
The crash was over in less than a blink of an eye. Charlie's new green spandex suit was torn in several places, and the blue chili bean special was beyond repair. Like any good accident victim, the first thing Charlie did was to look around and see if anyone had witnessed the crash.
Fortunately no one had witnessed the ugly event as Charlie was lying at the bottom of Paden City hill. Next, he got up the courage to call his wife to come and retrieve him and his twisted bike, as soon as possible, before someone took his picture and placed it on Facebook.
After Charlie's wife was sure he was ok, she began to giggle most of the way home. The green avocado spandex riding suit was unceremoniously laid to rest in the corner of his wife's flower bed. As to the blue chili bean special, well... it was never seen again as Charlie tried to forget the Avocado Man's adventure, as he looked Through the Lens.