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2005 Baja 1000 MCUSA Pre Run Photo Gallery

Come along with MotorcycleUSA.com as we pre-run the 2005 Baja 1000. Check out the full story in three stages with Baja - The Agony & Ecstasy Part I, Baja - The Agony & Ecstasy Part II, and Baja - The Agony & Ecstasy Part III.

Yeah, guess who? Watson on the road to Baja glory.
This section of road lead us out to the RM570 road crossing at Highway 1. It was fast but watch your step, those cliffs are at least a 100-foot drop on every turn.
Here's Hutch rolling into Coyote Ranch. A $5-gallon of fuel never looked so good. After learning a valuable lesson on day one we never passed up an opportunity to re-fuel.
Yeah, ride that thing cowboy! Here's Watson trying to wrangle his XR past Tyler without running him over at the top of this silty-rocky-nasty little climb.
This is one of the ugly hill climbs waiting for us at Baja. It may not look tough but it was. Just look at home out of shape Watson is in his picture.
Did we mention that there's a lotr of dust in Baja?
Wilky says he backed off at the last moment because he felt guilty about splashing me. I think I just cut him off at the pass. No matter - we both got soaked!
As you can see here, Steve clearly wants to humble me but I beat him to it and soak myself right off the bat.
There's a time when it is great to be a kid at heart. Here's Wilky playing in the water - then he gets the bright idea to ambush me (Ken) and soak me when I came through a few minutes later.
There were a few BMW's out and about in Baja. This one was Jimmy Lewis' HP2 that would ultimately snag a third-place finish in his class. Not bad considering he was facing off against both factory Honda teams.
Our noble steeds get a well deserved rest on the shores of Mike's lagoon (also known as a swimming pool).
The bar at Mike's is all about history. Plastered on these walls is more memorabilia than you can soak in during a single night.
Here's the whole group at dinner at Mike's Sky Ranch. Notice the look of despair on Wilky's face - he hates dead cow.
Baja super-hero Andy Grider and Freestyle legend Travis Pastrana strike a pose with Fernando the multi-purpose Concierge/bartender/cook from Mike's.
Here's Travis Pastrana and Andy Grider loading their bike at Mike's Sky Ranch. These dudes are nice guys so make sure to support them if you get the chance. Grider will be riding for USA in the Dakar again this year.
Mike's Sky Rancho is a hidden oasis in a dangerous desert. Many a Baja rider has rested their weary head at this place.
Diving Defined: The sport of entering the water from a raised position, often while executing tumbles, twists, and other acrobatic maneuvers. In most dives the upper part of the body enters the water first, and the arms are extended straight over the head.

In this case the diver (Wilky) appears to be frozen between the Pike and Tuck manuever before entering the water in what is commonly referred to as the Flying Watusi/Belly Flop. The water was about 33 degrees.
Home sweet home! Our rental house at Punta Banda was so sweet. The only thing it didn't have was a hot tub and that my friends was a major bummer.
Finally, Wilky gets his moment of glory.
I found that wheelie-ing through the whoops allowed me to go faster. Too bad I could only do it for about 5-minutes a pop!
Oh yeah, body armor is a necessity when you're riding the Baja. Over and over again I thanked the Lord for providing me with the proper protective equipment.
Man oh man, Watson is such a glory-hound. Here he is leading J.C. through a whoop section. Poor kid was stuck eating everyone's dust throughout this whole trip.
Here's Wilky chasing Watson down because he's such a glory-hog. They were friends before the race, now - they haven't seen each other in a month!
Here's Watson right in the middle of one of the best mountain scenes of the entire trip. Some guys just don't understand that it's not always about them.
On day two we woke up to this amazing sunrise looking at the Gulf of California.
This guy was so cool. We asked for Hotel California right off the bat and from there he played tunes for us for an hour. He was the man.
Here's part of the group after breakfast at the Cortez Resort in San Felipe. From Left to right we have J.C, Jerry Justus, his wife (He drove the support truck, she navigated) Jean and Tom Watson.
The blue waters and white, sandy beaches of San Felipe made it tough to leave considering our bruised and battered state.
Mexican beaches are a sight to behold. The western coast of the peninsula gets plenty of sightseeing by the racers since the course runs right next to the beach.
Don't believe the ghost stories, Watson's just messing with the MCUSA duo.
In order to compensate for his mini-stature, Ken added some ballast to the rear end in the form of extra gasoline.
This is the backside to the San Pedro Mountains as you near Mike's Sky Ranch. J.C. was having a good time riding Baja. A little bit better than that 9-to-5 construction gig you had to give up on isn't it Hilde?
Hilde tries to enjoy the scenery as the swelling in his arms goes down.
I would like to say that this was one of the only nasty sections we took a picture of, but this was instead just one of the many nasty looking sections we took a picture of. Wilky loved it though. He's part mountain goat.
Here we are waiting for Darin or Jerry or anyone for that matter, to come out and save us. We may have ran out of gas but that didn't stop us from making the most of it. Nothin's quite as tasty as a roasted granola bar with some warm water to wash it down.
The good thing about having a professional suspension technician like Tom Watson on the team was never having to worry about incorrect suspension settings. Hey, it's only Ken's Yamaha right?
One of the more common road-types at Baja was the loose gravel or granite variety. It doesn't look like much but it really does suck.
Here we are at a remote gas station, in fact this was the last gas station we would find between here and San Felipe despite needing at least one more.
It was really obvious that Watson was having fun riding instead of driving the course.
Notice how the years of off-road vehicle abuse have etched their mark into the Baja landscape. These groves made railing a blast.
From left to right are: Tom 'I'm sexy to wear underwear' Watson with J.C.'s riding gear on, J.C. 'Huh?' Hilderbrand sporting his new MSR duds, Steve 'Call me Wilky or die' Wilkinson in his favorite O'Neal gear from mid-80's, Darin 'Does this Fox gear make me look fat?' Hecker and Ken 'The Gas man' H
Here's Hutch a.k.a. 'Gas Can Ken'. Check out the Givi saddle-bags with gas cans stuffed inside them. It worked pretty good overall, except we should've put a couple more cans in there.
Dust, dust and more dust. If you think you know dust then you are a fool. Baja is about both dust and glory. Hey, we should make a movie about that.
Two old geezers (Ken Hutchison on the right and Tom Watson on the left) take a breather at the top of the Summit while the whipp-snapper/photo-model makes a few extra passes, just for fun.
What the Sam-Hell is J.C. doing now? He's riding up the Summit again, for fun! Oh, maybe the photographer made him do it.
Here's J.C contemplating whether or not he should go back to Ensenada right now, or stick with this bunch of crazy old bastards and see what comes out of it. At least he got to check out the beautiful views of Baja along the way.
Watson loved riding the rocky Summit so much that he volunteered to ride the first leg of the race. He said afterwards that there were so many riders and bikes mangled on this section that it blew his mind.
Here's our rookie J.C. Hilderbrand making his way up the smooth part of the Summit.
100 miles out in the middle of now where is this dudes shanty/ranch. A small dwelling with a few animals fenced in. Ahhh.the simple life. Here is our first fuel stop on day one. I should've kept all the fuel for myself!
You cannot imagine the happiness in my heart after I saw the 'Gasoline' sign at Coyote Ranch. Sure, I may look like a jackass here but I was pretty stoked to know everything was going to be alright this time around.
Here's Tom Watson in action - he loves Baja. In fact, he loves Baja so much he moved down here. Normally he would be racing a buggy but we managed to secure his services with the tempting offer of free beer and a perfectly choreographed race program.
Here is a little sample of what the Baja has to offer: Beautiful scenery, blue skies and warm weather. A little closer examination will reveal the down side of Baja. Cactus of all different varieties, Joshua Trees, sage brush and weeds, lots of weeds.
There's one thing for sure about Baja: This is some of the best riding I have ever done. The scenery was amazing, it was similar to things I had seen before, yet it was different too. Plus it had a sense of danger about it that added to the enjoyment.
The scorched countryside surrounding Mike's Sky Ranch is a reminder of just how difficult it is to put out a wildfire once it gets rolling.
Before getting into the rocky whoops along the coast, we spent more than a few miles traversing this burn section. Winding through the charred cacti and scorched boulders makes you realize how many little rodents must've lost their squeaky lives in this blaze.
Right out of the gate we were having a blast on our Honda XR650Rs. These bikes are meant to be ridden here, in the Baja.
That's right: Motorcycle-USA.com had the audacity to tackle the Baja 1000 as our first-ever Baja experience. Stupid? Probably. Would we do it again? You better believe it.
Our pre-running adventure started off with a freezing-ass cold ride out of Ensenada in a light mist. Ty snapped this shot over his shoulder at me. Little did I know how much hell we were about to endure.
The dust was thick as tortilla soup and it wasn't even race day. As you can tell by the location of the sun in this picture, this was about an hour or so before things took a turn for the worse.
Silt is nasty stuff, even in small doses. We didn't dare bust out the camera in the real silt so here's a look at an itty-bitty silty area.