“I was in my early twenties when I moved to Los Angeles. Just a kid trying to figure myself out,” says Reedus over the opening credits to the season premiere of Ride with Norman Reedus. “It was the late ‘90s, and I kinda fell into this scene of outsiders and rebels and actors. And then there were the bikers.” With that line, Reedus starts his Ducati, and his new show, which will take him on the Pacific Coast Highway in this episode, 400 miles of legendary California road that he is riding for the first time.
Before heading north, Reedus pops over to Long Beach to pay a visit to Roland Sands, a champion road racer who runs one of the most renowned custom bike companies in the world. Before long, a bike catches his eye: A fully customized BMW 9T. The two make it to the shore of Palos Verdes, Reedus having ditched his Ducati for the BMW. The views of the ocean and Catalina Island have him in awe, and Sands takes the opportunity to get Reedus properly excited about the scenery he can expect up the next 400 miles of highway: “It’s like God cut the mountains off,” he says. “Then it just goes straight down to the ocean.” Sands has to leave, but not before Reedus gets permission to “steal” his BMW — at least for this trip.
For the rest of the ride, Reedus partners up with Imogen Lehtonen, who runs the L.A. outpost of jewelry company Great Frog London and rides a Harley Dyna T-Sport from PowerPlant Motorcycles. They haven’t left yet L.A. yet, and Reedus remarks how much the area has changed, then points out a pizza shop where he says he became an actor. He doesn’t elaborate though, only adding that it’s a “long story.”
As they head north to the pristine sands of Pismo Beach, Reedus gives a little more insight into his biking history: “When I first moved to L.A. I worked at a Harley shop called Dr. Carl’s Hog Hospital. I did a lot of grunt work but on the plus side I got to see a lot of different bikes. Back then I used to always wonder what it would be like to ride up the California coast. And this is exactly how I pictured it.”
On their third morning, the two ride through Big Sur, over the majestic Bixby Creek Bridge, and on to Santa Cruz. “I just like the way the air smells around here,” Reedus says. “So clean.” It’s a fitting segue into their next stop, the garage of the electric-powered Zero Motorcycles. “I used to have a dog named Zero,” Reedus remembers before heading inside. There they meet Scot Harden, a former Baja dirt biker, who takes them on a tour of the facility meeting with the employees, who all obviously watch The Walking Dead. After a spree of autographs and picture taking, Imogen finally lets it drop that she’s never seen a single episode. “Get out of here right now,” Reedus scolds.
Harden offers to take them on a trip to the Redwoods, on their Zero bike of choice. Reedus picks a DSR and is shocked by the lack of sound, and the electric torque. “This is blowing me away, how smooth this is,” he says. The drive through the Redwoods is suitably breathtaking, and the group enjoys the quiet connection with nature. “I kind of feel like this is the future,” says Reedus.
The episode’s final destination is Re-Cycle Garage, home to Reedus’ favorite podcast “Motorcycles and Misfits.” The crowd there is diverse and welcoming, especially the fat pug that waddles up to lick his face, and they soon get into the day’s topic: What would work best in a zombie apocalypse. Reedus shocks the room by ditching the bikes he’s ridden on The Walking Dead and instead says he’d opt for a Zero motorcycle with a solar panel attached. “Anything that makes noise attracts zombies,” he reasons. Then some of other podcast guests question him in-depth about The Walking Dead bike that he acquired from Merle, and it’s clear that Reedus didn’t come prepared for such aggressive interviewing about the show. “What the fuck?” he laughs while being grilled. Eventually everyone heads outside to hang out around the bikes and drink some beers. “I always feel at home around a bunch of outsiders,” says Reedus.