Ride with Norman Reedus Recap: “Death Valley”

 Mark Schafer / AMC

“This place is an adrenaline rush just waiting to happen,” says Norman Reedus while staring up at the historic Las Vegas welcome sign. So begins his next journey on his new show Ride with Norman Reedus: 125 miles west on the scenic state route NV-160, starting in Sin City and ending in California’s Death Valley.

It’s going to be the first time that Reedus makes it to the desert. He’s taking the trip with an old friend, actor Balthazar Getty, who filmed Lost Highway out there with David Lynch, and has been trying to bring him out for ages. They meet up at the vintage styled Peppermill Coffee Shop, which has been featured in some iconic movies like Casino and Showgirls. After a nice strong hug they take a moment to absorb their surroundings, from the neon-lit decorations to the short-skirted waitstaff, while sipping on some good old-fashioned joe. Soon they’re reminiscing about their early days together in Los Angeles, before Reedus began his acting career. Reedus recalls his drives, borrowing a Honda Rebel from the bike shop he worked at. “Oh I remember the Rebel!” laughs Getty.

Their rides for this journey are a slight step above a Rebel; they’re mounting up on a pair of shiny Ducati Multistrada 1200s. As they embark on their Las Vegas joyride — "Should we get hitched at the Little White Chapel?"— Reedus points out the skyline's towering Stratosphere, and the guys come to the realization that they are both afraid of heights. Reedus mentions a portrait he had taken at the top of the Empire State Building, where he thought he was going to “f—king die."

Eventually, night sets in and the guys head out to take on the twinkling strip on their bikes. They stumble upon a zombie burlesque show and Reedus is predictably compelled to check it out. Little do these zombies know that one of the greatest assassins of the Walking Dead is strolling into their evening performance, but backstage Reedus doles out compliments rather than arrows.

They manage to peel out of Vegas with their shirts still on their backs, excited to unleash their Ducatis through the Mojave Desert and finally take in the jagged mountain ranges. That is, until hunger strikes, leading them to pull over for some hot box BBQ at Mountain Springs Salon, where a former-strip club chef called Leadfeather makes a mean pulled pork. “Cool name,” says Reedus.

They work off their dinners by ditching their street cycles to try some dirt biking with Jimmy Lewis, a former Baja racer who now operates an off-road school out in the sands of Nevada. “Are these brand new?” Reedus asks about the Yamaha WRs, anticipating some mild damage. When he’s informed that they are, he replies “uh oh.” Regardless, the guys gear up and proceed to kick up some major dust. Reedus wants to get a wheelie lesson, but he starts to experience knee chaffing from the pads, so he seeks relief by dropping trou. “I just got to drop my pants for two seconds.” They get back on their machines just in time to chase a glorious blood red sunset. “I’ve never ridden anywhere like this,” Reedus reflects.

The guys drive through the night, crossing the California border, toward their bunks for the night at Furnace Creek Inn. There they rendezvous with some of the lovely ladies from Babes Ride Out, driving Harleys and Triumphs, who are there to join them for part of the journey. The next morning the group heads south out of Furnace Creek along Artist Drive, an especially stunning ride through volcano-formed mountains and painted canyons. The destination is Dante’s View, a viewpoint terrace overlooking the entirety of Death Valley. 

Upon arrival, Reedus makes sure to thank Getty for inspiring the trip.“This is probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen,” says Reedus. We're guessing the spectacular Badwater salt flats below is a tad prettier than the grisly Walking Dead backdrops he's used to soaking up.