TransAmerica Trail Ride Begins At Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Our three Honda riders head south on North Carolina’s Barrier Islands to a camp near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Riding across the USA is no big deal, right? Well, how about doing it on nothing but dirt roads? Yes, it’s been done before and we know three riders who are about to do it again. Dave Bramsen and his sons, Paul and Caleb, have packed three Hondas to travel across America by way of the TransAmerica Trail. The TAT is 5,200 miles of country dirt roads and trails connecting Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on the East Coast to Port Orford, Oregon, on the West Coast. Is this the ultimate way to see America? Follow along via Dave Bramsen's blog and see.

TransAmerica Trail ride
Three guys at the beginning of 5,200 miles of what?Dave Bramsen

Into the late humidity of Saturday June 3, our TransAmerica Trail team team leaves the friendly folks at Team Charlotte Motorsports, heading 471 miles to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse of North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Can the Honda CRF250 tour? We will ask our 24-hp machines to do Gold Wing duty. With 9+ mph/1,000 rpm we're cruising 65 mph at 7,000 rpm. These stout little Hondas are doing it and rather smoothly at that. No big motor buzz as from my CB450, but keep 'em spinning if your plans include acceleration. The Africa-Twin's claimed 94 horsepower moves me briskly and 6th gear does 68mph at a relaxed 4,000 rpm. Fuel economy is at 60-80 mpg for the 250s. And the big A-Twin has economy cred in the 48-60 mpg range. The 4.97-gallon tank can give a 250 mile range. The 250 tanks seem a bit small at 2 and 2.7 gallons but we like the breaks every 100 miles. For 150-mile no-gas stretches farther west, I'm prepped with a five-quart gas container.

Cape Hatteras lighthouse
The “official” TAT starting location: the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.Paul Bramsen

Forty miles from Nag’s Head, NC; green woods flow with more swamp and we cross causeways over white-capped bay waters. We smell salt air. And, breaking California protocol, Harley riders here wave at guys on dual-sports. Southern hospitality. Also, unlike California, where you will NOT find a last minute $40 seaside camp; here, we find dozens of grassy sites. $10. Sticky-toed tree frogs included.

The bikes purr into the Cape Point Campsite as the lighthouse flashes a half-mile distant. They’re not tired, but we are. We give them a taste of chain lube and spread a tarp for a night under the stars.