Aimee Nash, musician in the band The Black Ryder and Norman’s riding companion through New Mexico, talks about speeding down that enormous zipline in a gorilla costume, her favorite aspect of riding bikes, and the mystique of the jackalope.
Q: How did you first met Norman?
A: My band, The Black Ryder, was playing a show in New York, and Norman had previously tweeted some of our songs and said he loved our music. We connected shortly after that and he said ‘if you guys ever come to New York let’s grab a beer,’ so when we were in New York to play a show, he came along. We had a really great night and became good friends after that. That’s kind of how we met and we’ve been buddies since. He’s an excellent and very lovable human .
Q: When did you your love of motorcycles and riding begin? What’s your favorite aspect of riding?
A: I’m from Sydney, Australia. I grew up in a suburb called Ryde, funnily enough. I had an uncle who was a bike enthusiast and he had a lot of bikes. We didn’t have a car when I was growing up and I spent the majority of time traveling on buses, so when I’d see him roll in looking cool in his leather jacket on a different bike each time that was always exciting. He took me out for my first ride as a teenager and it was exhilarating. I think I developed my love of bikes then. I was also a little obsessed with The Lost Boys as a kid and I’d always wondered, “Why doesn’t Star ride a motorcycle? She should ride too.” So I think I always wanted to ride a motorcycle myself, not just be a passenger. I remember seeing Marlon Brando in The Wild One when I was young & that leaving an impression on me. I also loved Hunter S. Thompson in my teens, who also loved motorbikes — so I think I was destined to ride.
Q: What would you say is one of your favorite aspects of riding?
A: One of my favorite aspects of riding is the feeling of independence and freedom. I remember after I’d got my motorcycle license and rode for the first time in Australia, the first thing I thought was “Wow, I’m not wearing a seatbelt,” “Wow, I’m outside of the vehicle.” It’s just you and the road and the wind. It’s a meditative practice as well because you have to have such focus and be really grounded and centered. You have to be present and living in the moment when you’re riding, and be hyper aware of everything around you. So I think I love that the most: the meditative aspect and also being completely focused and present.
Q: New Mexico has so much varied landscape, from snow-covered mountains to sand dunes and deserts. What was it like covering those extremes all in one ride?
A: There is such great vastness in America. The producers had initially told me it was going to be cold when we were there, so I was wearing numerous layers and thermals, and it was still freezing. I’d never ridden through temperatures that cold before. Obviously being from Sydney, where we don’t get snow, I’d never actually seen much snow in my life. In fact I’d never seen snow until I came to America on my first tour, but even then I had never seen snow like I saw when we shot that episode. That was a whole new experience for me.
There were many firsts in this show and it was very fast-paced. Even at the end someone asked us, “So, what was your favorite bit of the trip?” and I was thinking, “My brain was partly frozen and over-stimulated, and I can’t even think how to answer this question right now.” It was an amazing adventure and experience. Norman would have to be the most fun adventure buddy you could ask for.
Q: You were very excited to receive the jackalope as a gift. Why was that?
A: When you visit a new country there are things you see along the way that you’ve never seen or heard of before, and they become extra-fascinating. On a tour in America we’d stopped in at the Grand Canyon, and they had a gift shop selling postcards with jackalopes on it. We’d never seen a jackalope before, so for us that was a novelty. For the rest of the tour the jackalope kind of became a thing. We were really hoping to see more Jackalope paraphernalia, but we never did, until New Mexico.
Q: What was it like ziplining down that mountain?
A: I just saw Norman last week and we were talking about this again. We were saying we were both a little terrified when we got up to the top of the zipline. Because everything was so fast-paced on our travels, you’re moving quickly and going from one place to the next so you’re not thinking too much about what’s coming up, then all of a sudden we’re in these animal costumes getting harnessed up, Norman looked like an S&M chicken. I don’t think Norman had ziplined before, I definitely had not. I knew it was going to be a long zip line but I hadn’t thought so much about it being so high — and it was snowing and the wind was crazy and we were also wearing these crazy animal costumes. It definitely added an extra element of drama to the whole experience wearing a gorilla outfit… When I got up to the top and they were strapping me in, it was so windy, ruffling the fur on my gorilla suit. And there were all these instructions, like you gotta pull this thing down and do this with your legs – there was a lot going on. But it was fun. You definitely do get a rush of adrenaline, from riding a motorbike to going on a zipline in a gorilla costume.
Q: Were you or Norman bummed that your idea to sled on the sand dunes didn’t work at first?
A: Yeah, it didn’t feel like a successful sledding experience sadly. [Laughs] It was funny because after we tried a few times, a lady showed up with some wax, and told us, “You’ve gotta wax the things.” But the White Sands was such a beautiful location, it felt like being on another planet.
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