The Non-Fiction Motorcycle Odyssey of Norman Reedus
Photo courtesy of AMC
Norman Reedus fans are already used to tuning into AMC on Sunday nights to see the actor ride a motorcycle on "The Walking Dead." But, during last night's debut episode of "Ride with Norman Reedus," it wasn't zombies he was slaying, it was our hearts. The actor lived up to his nice guy reputation as he traveled along the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz, CA, reconnecting with old friends along the way and making plenty of new ones, all the while communicating with the audience through Anthony Bourdain-style narrations.
For this trip, Reedus was joined by Imogen Lehtonen, a young woman whose family owns The Great Frog London which, according to Reedus, created the first skull ring nearly 40 years ago. After picking up a custom ride from Roland Sands Design in Long Beach, Norman headed over to The Great Frog's Los Angeles location to get Imogene and his first ring ever, a custom made skull ring, of course.
Along the way, Reedus explains to the audience that he began his career in Los Angeles nearly twenty years ago, saying, "I'll always feel at home here, this is the place where everything came together for me ... this is where I learned to ride bikes." Though he spent several years in Southern California, he never really had the chance to explore so, surprisingly, this was his first ride along the PCH.
Norman and Imogen headed out of L.A. toward Santa Barbara and, their final destination, Santa Cruz where Norman was scheduled to appear on the podcast "Motorcyles and Misfits." On the way to Santa Barbara, they made a pit stop in Pismo Beach that boasts around five-and-a-half miles of sand dunes you can drive on, making it the perfect place to ride dune buggies. The pair rented buggies from Sun Buggie Rentals and seemed to have a blast riding them up and down the dunes. The two-seat buggies are available for one-hour rentals Sunday through Friday, starting at $99.
As they headed back onto the highway Norman told Imogene, "that was awesome, I could seriously ride these dunes forever." Their next stop was the Auto Camp in Santa Barbara. This is a contemporary motor camp filled with renovated Airstreams, complete with soaking tubs, flat-screen TVs, pillow-top mattresses and private patios with electric BBQ grills and Adirondack chairs. Rates start around $166 a night.
Their next attraction might have been the best of the trip, or at least the quirkiest. He and Imogene pulled off in Cambria, CA to check out the Nitt Witt Ridge, which owner Mike O’Malley calls the “anti-Hearst Castle.” The property was purchased by garbage man Arthur “Art” Harold Beal in 1928, and was built using materials that were thrown away. The handrails double as the home's plumbing system, the bathroom has his and her toilets and Art's clothes still hang in the closets. Tours are provided by appointment only.
After Nitt Witt Ridge, Imogene and Norman reached their final destination, Santa Cruz, where they toured Zero Motorcyles, one of the only U.S. companies making completely electric bikes.
Before testing the bikes on a ride through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Norman signed autographs and took photos with employees. During one especially touching exchange, a man asked Norman to sign something that belonged to his late brother, who was a huge fan of "The Walking Dead." Of course, Reedus graciously obliged, telling the audience, "something like that just rips me to shreds and reminds me that life is fragile."
As the inaugural episode of "Ride" came to a close, Reedus reminds us that California "attracts people that don't fit in anywhere else" but, whether he realizes it or not, there is one place where Norman Reedus will always fit in perfectly — with all of his fans who can't wait to watch his next jaunt through Death Valley.
More by Christine Bord
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