Norman Reedus Gets In Touch With His Spiritual Side on 'Ride'
Photo courtesy of AMC
As the credits roll on the third of episode of "Ride With Norman Reedus," "The Walking Dead" actor tells us, "My first time I was 13..." in a seductive voice over. Of course, he's talking about the first time he ever rode a bike, and it's clear that ride had as much of an impact on him as any other "first" in his life.
After riding up the Pacific Coast Highway and through the Nevada desert, it was time for Norman to head for the hills, and there is better place to do just that than the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Reedus started out in Atlanta, where he lives while shooting TWD, and hit the road toward the Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River in North Carolina with his friend and custom bike builder Jason Paul Michaels, who he met up with at Atlanta's Brother Moto, a co-op motorcycle garage. Their first stop out of Atlanta was the Apex Cycle Shop in Ellijay, Georgia where "the cutest couple ever," Wes and Rachel Burden, restore classic BMWs.
After a tour of their garage, Wes and Rachel show Norman and Jason one of their favorite local haunts, Walker’s Fried Pies and BBQ. Norman was particularly impressed with the restaurant's name, "I love that these are Walker's fried pies, we call our zombies ‘walkers,’" but the pies didn't look too shabby either.
After Walker's, Norman continued on to the dam. As he explains, "At the start of WWII, the government needed an out of the way place to build airplanes, then they realized they were gonna need a lot of power to keep conveyer belts rolling, they chose this spot." Norman and Jason rode their bikes over the concrete dam, above an 11,000-acre reservoir, with 240 miles of shoreline, before stopping to take the obligatory panoramic photo of the water and surrounding mountains.
Next, it was onto the Tail of The Dragon, or US 129, just north of Deal's Gap, North Carolina. With 318 curves in 11 miles, the Great Smoky Mountains on one side and the Cherokee National Forest on the other, and a Motorcycle Resort at the bottom, the route has become one of the most popular biker destinations in the world.
If we learn anything for "Ride," it's that wherever Norman Reedus goes, he draws a crowd. At the Deal's Gap Store, he was mobbed by fans and, as usual, he took it all stride, comparing rides and taking photos. But, the mob scene was a reminder of how busy The Dragon's Tail can be on a weekend, so they decided to wait it out for the night and took in some parking lot races instead.
Once they completed every biker's dream and finished riding the Tail of the Dragon, Jason and Norm backtracked through Cherokee, NC, where they took photos at the town's biggest roadside attraction, a Native American Statue outside of Indian Ink, and headed toward the Blue Ridge Parkway which, as Norman explains in his voice over, was "designed for the ride." They took the Blue Ridge Parkway to their final destination, Asheville, North Carolina.
Not surprisingly, they found a Moonshine Distillery, where a new generation of Appalachian Moonshiners are making it the same way their families did generations ago, complete with a banjo player and an old dog on the porch next door.
What was a bit surprising was that they took time out to attend mass while they were in town, but this wasn't just any sermon. Norman and Jason stopped into a service at the Freedom Biker Church of Asheville, where the preacher sits on a Harley and the church building looks more like a mechanic's garage.
The last place they head to is A Broken Spoke, a bike shop that has created a community of bikers, neighbors, kids and hipsters and "no matter who you are, you are welcomed with the same open arms." In the wake of recent events, it isn't lost on the audience that this type of camaraderie is something we could use a little more of, everywhere.
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And what's the only thing better than camaraderie? Ice cream. After asking Norman to stop for the sweet treat the entire way, Jason finally gets the dessert he's been waiting for at one of Ashville's funky little ice cream shops, The Hop West. While they ate their ice cream, Reedus and Michaels reminisced about their trip and they both agreed, they couldn't think of anything they did that wasn't "awesome," and neither can we.
More by Christine Bord
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