[Features]

THINKING OF TAKING ON THE BAJA 1000? – Here’s Five Tips & Tricks From Forrest Minchinton

2 years ago | Words: Garage Entertainment | Photos: Mojave Productions

Forrest Minchinton spent most of his early years travelling to the most remote parts of the Mojave desert, to a ram-shackled bunch of makeshift buildings his Dad picked up on the cheap, no roads and no laws, desert and rugged  mountains as far as the eye can see – his perfect home away from home.

Forrest’s riding style was born in the desert, he feels at home with soft sand beneath the tyres, so naturally when it came time to train for the upcoming Baja 1000, Forrest took the team of Colton Udall, Nic Garvin and Derek Ausserbauer out to the Mojave to perfect the finest details of the bike and their overall race prep.

The newly released documentary THE DESERT SAID DANCE (Available Now) follows the team as they prepare for and race the Baja 1000.

We caught up with Forrest to get some inside information to help those game enough to take on one of the toughest races in the world.

THE RACE BIKE

When tackling the longest non-stop, point to point off-road race in the world, you better have excellent equipment! Your motorcycle has to handle non-stop abuse for 24 hours.

Durability and reliability are the number one priority so when it comes to building your race bike our advice is ALWAYS OEM parts, great tires and and Nitromousse bib inserts to prevent flats.

After building a reliable motorcycle the next tall order is finding comfort.

With each racer being on the motorcycle for 6+ hours at a time, you want to make sure that each rider is comfortable and can go the distance. This comes down to bars, grips, steering stabilizers, soft seat and seat cover, hand guards to name a few things. The thing that is most important when talking about comfort is suspension and chassis setup. The rigors of the Baja race course require a plush setup, while also allowing the racer to attack the race course aggressively.

Lots of hours go into finding the right balance. 

PRE-RUNNING

One of the unique things about racing in Baja is the ability to pre-run the race course. Pre-running is crucial to having a good race, it allows you to familiarize yourself with the race course, the pit crews with pit locations, and knowing when and where you can go fast.

Not only is it a time to get find fast lines, make mental notes of all the dangers and Virtual Check Points across the course, but it also is the beauty of racing in Baja! A week or two spent riding your dirt bike with your teammates and/or friends, eating tacos, and just soaking in the overall good fortune you have getting to ride and race your motorcycle down one of the world’s most unique landscapes.

Baja truly is a special place. 

RACE TEAM

Racing the Baja 1000 requires a small army of people. Of course you have your racing teammates, but don’t forget to call all your closest friends, relatives, and supporters and anyone else who is willing to drive down long hours and set up support in the middle of the desert.  Just to see you come in for fuel and peel back out onto the race course all in a matter of seconds. The logistics required to set up a competitive race plan are immense and years of experience are key to knowing who, when, where, and what to have on your race team.

For those giving it their first crack, it is important to create a conservative, straight forward and realistic plan of attack and execute that plan on race day. Fuel for the bike, body and mind, and as many parts and resources that you can have available at each pit is important. 

RIDING APPROACH

When riding and racing in Mexico, the key to remember is that it is a race of attrition. In order to finish first, you must first finish!

That is not to say you must race slow, to the contrary. You must be smooth, calm and calculated in your risk-taking. There is no fool proof way to avoid all risks, but if you ride smart, within your limits, and execute your plan and race lines from your days spent pre-running.

 You give yourself the best chance of survival, speed and consistency to the finish line. I’ve seen many very talented racers go down and be bitten by Mexico. The race is against the terrain and the race course first and foremost. It becomes about your competitors there after.

If you come down and think you can beat Mexico, you are most certainly going to pay the price.

BAJA MEXICO 

Baja California, is a rough, rugged and beautiful place. One minute you love it and the next you hate it. It keeps you on your toes, and also rewards you with some of the best experiences. Riding down the beach, surfing good waves, warm smiles and friendly “saludos” from the locals. The racing fans, make you feel like a hero.

Starting/finishing the Baja 1000 is like no other, you can feel the passion from the people. To the contrary, there can also be a dark side. Theft, robbery, lack of quality medical care, language barrier for those who don’t speak Spanish. The freedom and vast emptiness comes at a price. The first world comforts of the metropolis of Southern California might as well be on the opposite side of the planet, when you’ve broken down or broken a bone in the middle of the Baja Peninsula. If you approach it with care, see the good in people, give back to wonderful people of Baja, pay it forward by helping your fellow racers and take time to really immerse yourself in the culture and the experience, I can guarantee it too will give back to you. After all, we are all just humans riding our dirt bikes on this spec of dirt flying through the solar system, enjoy it for all it is worth!

Watch Forrest and the guys take on the Baja 1000 in THE DESERT SAID DANCE. Available now from on most major platforms.

Head to www.thedesertsaiddance.com for purchase links. 

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