e had to be here. Had to load up the van and shuck south across the border because this is the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000. No matter how many times you’ve looped “Dust to Glory” or “On Any Sunday” in the garage, you can’t understand this place or the race that runs through it without putting your boots in the dirt. This is an entire peninsula of absurdity. A place where some towns have only recently received pavement and electricity while others still wait. A place where cellphones and credit cards are still quaint curiosities, and no one bats an eye if you go gunning through the heart of it on a pair of red-sticker 2017 Honda CRF450RXs. The machines are special. Brand-new and laden with a stack of aftermarket goodies. LED headlights from Baja Designs, IMS desert tanks, and Acerbis Bark Busters, all without a scratch on them. Honda took the 450R, threw on an electric starter and a handful of specific engine maps, retuned the suspension, and called it a day. It’s made for hare scrambles and enduros, a full-on competition machine with a toggle for a throttle and zero patience for anything less than a full-on sprint. We would put more than 800 miles on them in four days, riding from the hotel where we left the van in Ensenada all the way south to Bahía de los Ángeles and back again.