The inspiration for this week's episode of Ride With Norman Reedus was a fascination with Texas that Reedus says started with seeing James Dean looking “badass as hell” in Giant. So he hopes to experience the state’s wild side during a meandering road trip from Austin to San Antonio, hitting the famous Twisted Sisters route through Hill Country. His ride for the adventure is a custom Triumph Tiger 800 XC, a proper adventure bike built to conquer any incline.
He has decided to take along one of his New York friends, Jake Lamagno, who he meets at a local Austin gallery called Pump Project. Lamagno, an artist who is inspired by "death and decay," is already inside painting when Reedus arrives. He reveals that his project is making targets for them to take to a shooting range. “We’re in Texas, why not shoot some guns?” he says. Reedus loves the idea: “This is why we’re friends.”
But first they are linking up with Elijah and Craig of Limey Bikes, a groundbreaking shop that works exclusively on old Japanese motorcycles. There the guys peruse a 1966 Honda Dream, a supercharged café racer, and a number of other classic machines that Chris hopes to “resurrect from the dead."
They haven’t even started the trip and the battery of Lamagno’s 1977 Harley Sportster dies. Luckily they’re still in the lot of Limey Bikes, so their new gear-junkie pals come to the rescue. Good thing, because next they have a pretty awesome appointment, meeting director Robert Rodriguez at his Troublemaker Studios. Connected through Walking Dead producer Greg Nicotero, Reedus mentions the filmmaker has done a couple of his favorite films.
The entrance to Troublemaker Studios looks less than inviting initially, a 30-acre old airport of monstrous hangers fashioned with “Closed For Renovation” signs, and surrounded by barbed wire fences. But when a steel door comes up, Rodriguez is there to cheerily welcome them. The boys get a tour, checking out muscle cars, set props, and the green screen room where he shot all of Sin City. There is special attention made to the bike that customizer Jesse James made for Grindhouse. “He’s always trying to buy it back from me,” laughs Rodriguez.
Soon, they arrive at the bar (complete with a proper Southern feast) of the last scene in From Dusk Till Dawn, which Rodriguez re-built exactly for the El Rey television series. Soon it is time to go, but not before taking photos with a creepy plastic baby Danny Trejo doll from the Machete movies. “Oh my God this is messed up dude,” Reedus says.
Next up, they are checking out that infamous Austin music scene, in particular a rock band that Reedus has been following for a few years called The Well. The band cranks up the raw Southern grunge, while Reedus takes video on his camera and throws up the devil horns.
Next morning the boys are on the road and headed west out of Austin through Medina. Reedus had expected flat land, but it is actually pretty lush and beautiful driving on Ranch Road 336, part of the Twisted Sisters. They enjoy the tight turns along the untarnished terrain of the Hill Country on the drive, waving at the occasional herd of cows. “After being in the city, it is a welcome change,” says Reedus. “Now, this is Texas.”
Hunger hits and they set their sights on a little brisket as they pull into a roadside eatery called The Hog Pen. They kill time by kicking it with strangers and thrift shopping next door. After, they decide to walk off their meals on the street, where Reedus runs into a fan that has the “Aequitas” tattoo from his movie Boondock Saints.
The next day, they head out 75 more miles south to San Antonio. There, Reedus has tracked down a shooting range, where you get to fire vintage guns, called A Place To Shoot, but first they need to finish their homemade targets, which Reedus jazzes up with graffiti art and ornaments he finds in the garbage.
Many rounds later at the shooting range (where the owners are decked out like the sheriffs of the Old West), it’s back to the bikes to meet up with Colt Wrangler, a designer who uses salvaged parts. Joyriding through the city, the guys pass the Alamo, which they comment looks “so little.” When they arrive Wrangler gives them a tour through his compound, replete with garbage can fires and Christmas lights. But before they get to Wrangler’s machines, including his own Harley Sportster, there is a detour to show Reedus the game of Chicken Sh*t Bingo, where foul are put into a numbered cage until they relieve themselves on a square. After, they stick around to celebrate the completion of their drive with a few tequilas laced with jalapeño salt, a fitting adieu to the Lone Star State.