'Ride With Norman Reedus' Recap: "The Keys With Peter Fonda"

Peter Fonda joined Norman Reedus for a trip through southern Florida. Credit: Courtesy Ride With Norman Reedus

Peter Fonda’s Easy Rider is the greatest road movie to come out of Hollywood, and remains revered in the biking community nearly 50 years later. Because of this, any rider would kill for the opportunity to roam the open road with Fonda, and that is exactly what Reedus gets to do in the final episode of Ride With Norman Reedus.

The plan is to see what South Florida has to offer, starting off in Naples then cruising through Miami on the way to The Keys, a place Fonda used to call home. They rendezvous at Joe’s Diner, and when Reedus arrives, Fonda is already waiting at an outdoor table, wearing a sleek racing white leather jacket. “Last time I saw you, you were falling through a plate glass window with two automatic pistols and shooting the hell out of me,” Fonda says. He’s referring to when they worked together on the Boondock Saints sequel. The guys begin by sharing stories and mutual admiration over coffee. “I’m taking a ride with Peter Fonda,” says Reedus. “This is a dream.” Fonda reciprocates. “I’m taking a ride with Norman Reedus,” he says. Reedus giggles in glee at the statement.

This episode, Reedus is back on his Triumph Tiger 800XC; while Fonda is riding a more classically designed 2016 Triumph Thunderbird Storm. “It’s not rigid like the Easy Rider bike,” Fonda explains. Comfort is key, because they have 120 miles through the Florida Everglades to conquer. First stop along the way is to Tamiami Tyrants, a custom shop specializing in Harley-Davidsons. There they meet up with owners, brothers, Brian and Tyler Mullins. Between moments admiring a rebuilt Harley Liberator, the guys get a dinner recommendation for Joanie’s Blue Crab Café, a local spot serving alligator meat.

On the way to dinner Fonda regales Reedus with a few stories, like driving through Europe with Warren Oates in a Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3. “We were smoking pot and hash, going at least 130 down the Autobahn,” he says, laughing. Clearly, this is what Reedus has been waiting for, responding, “you’ll have to tell me more of these stories when we’re not mic’ed up.”

The next day, they wake up in Miami to connect with sculptor and motorcycle builder Bruce McQuiston, who works with Ducatis and Moto Guzzis. When they arrive at McQuiston’s shop, Moto Studio, they're blown away by his one-of-a-kind custom vehicles. Back at McQuiston’s home, they discuss the merits of minimalistic design over stone crab before embarking on the last 160 miles of their journey.

The final leg cruises down the Overseas Highway, a two-lane bridge connecting the group of tiny coral and limestone islands at the very tip of Florida. Reedus finds himself stunned by the ocean’s beauty. By the time the sun is down, they’ve made it to their final destination, Key West.

“What did you do back then for fun?” asks Reedus as they drive through downtown. “Get wrecked,” Fonda answers honestly. Their first stop is Rodrigues Cigar Factory — the oldest in town — where the Rodriguez family teaches Reedus how to roll his own smoke. The guys walk through the street enjoying their cigars as Fonda treats Reedus to a few more memories, like having opium joints personally rolled by Tennessee Williams. “He was very nice,” he says. Then they head out into the dark to find their own fun.

The next morning, Reedus is hurting from the night’s antics, but the plan is to meet up with one of Fonda’s oldest friends Benjamin “Dink” Bruce, whose father was right-hand man to Ernest Hemingway. They all convene at Mile Marker 0, the literal end of the road, and Bruce is waiting with a kite and couple fishing pools. After a little reminiscing, the guys sit down at Salute! where Bruce treats them to a few cocktails. Reedus uses the opportunity to ask what drew Fonda to riding motorcycles. “I knew it would freak my father out,” says Fonda, smiling. The answer, and the whole trip, seems to satisfy Reedus who narrates over the final shot of Ride: “They say you shouldn’t spend time with your heroes, but I guess I lucked out.”