American Motorcyclist March 2018
Train Like A Pro
Former Racer Offers Training For All
Brian Bartlow has honed his skills during 16 years of road racing, supermoto and flat track competition, winning a number of championships beginning in 1992.
Throughout his career, he has been doling out advice to less experienced racers and those who just want to ride for fun. And he formalized his program in 2013 with the opening of his Feel Like A Pro Dirt school in Kelseyville, Calif. (www.feellikeaprodirt.com).
“Dirt training is the No. 1 method to learn to build confidence and learn how to push a rider to the limits without the risk of high speeds and injury,” Bartlow said. “Training on mini bikes is the preferred training tool.”
Bartlow, who once owned a business renting 250 Kawasaki Ninjas to racers, favors smaller bikes, even for more experienced riders.
“Building this kind of confidence on a 12-horsepower motorcycle is an unbelievable experience,” he said. “Even the expert riders build a new confidence in the way they look at riding.”
At Feel Like A Pro Dirt, the day begins with the fundamentals of riding.
“This includes body position, braking techniques, balance, throttle control, head and eye movement and starting,” Bartlow said. “These are the drills that make better riders. Once we go through the series of drills, we follow it up with an open practice season.
“After a quick break with a lecture, we start riding at a new level. This new level is something you probably would never think you can do: slide around in the dirt. Yup, we will build your confidence to a point where you will be pushing and sliding the front and rear tire.”
In the relatively short time the school has been operating, Bartlow has gone from training about 250 people a year to about 500.
Bartlow said one class in January included riders 8 years old to 66. The oldest ever to take his course was 74.
“I’m seeing more and more new riders and more women,” he said. “I think I’m seeing more women and kids because the No. 1 thing I hear is that the husband/father doesn’t have the patience to teach them to ride.
“The women [who come to the school] want a professional.”
But, even with a professional leading the program, the riding remains fun.
“My overall view about having a training facility is that it provides a place to learn the correct way and safe way to ride,” Bartlow said. “My school is a place to get away, have fun and enjoy riding. I have a positive attitude, and I try to put that into training and making riders better.”
While his students are not required to be AMA members, Bartlow said he strongly encourages them to join.
“The morning lecture includes the benefits of being an AMA member,” he said. “I have my AMA membership, because I like to keep up on what’s going on with motorcycling all over the country. I want to be a member so I can stand up for my right to ride.”
Aside from his track school, Bartlow is the co-founder of the Flat Track Safety Group, which works to reduce the number of injuries in flat track racing.
In his day job, Bartlow is a paramedic.
“I have a passion for teaching and making riders safer,” he said.