As I push out of the driveway today for 6 weeks on the road, it seemed fitting to revisit this post, first published on January 3, 2013.
Designed to protect you from harm, self-generated resistance stops forward momentum. Understanding and mastering the friction zone is a fundamental skill for proficient riding – and joyful living.
The friction zone on a motorcycle is the area of resistance created as the clutch becomes engaged, allowing the transfer of power from the engine to the rear wheel. The source of power is the engine; the clutch the area of resistance and the action of the rear wheel manifests the motorcycle’s power. Power needs to pass through the area of resistance to move the motorcycle forward.
Your universal Spirit is your source of power. The friction zone is created by the resistance put up by your ego in response to any change, which it perceives as a threat to its survival. Resistance takes the form of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that interfere with expressing your true power.
Overcoming resistance: 10 concepts to master the friction zone
- Available power. All available power is contained within the motorcycle and accessed through the controls. Most non-racing riders rarely operate the bike at its maximum capacity.You come fully powered. Power doesn’t come from anyone else nor can anyone take it away. When your spirit seeks expression through a call to adventure, a desire to make a life change or during a period of transition, your ego creates resistance, making you feel powerless. But power is always available.
- Let Go. Coordinating the clutch lever and the throttle precisely regulates power. At some point, you have to let go of the clutch lever if you want to get through the friction zone and move forward.Fear causes you to clutch onto limiting thoughts and beliefs. Becoming aware of them, thanking ego for trying to protect you and then letting them go, allows you to move through resistance and express your Self.
- Coordinate clutch and throttle Part 1. Let go of the clutch without applying the throttle and the bike will lurch and stall. Fear and uncertainty make new riders timid with the throttle as they release the clutch lever. Energy from the throttle has to be greater than the resistance of the friction zone to move forward.Fear of success can be as debilitating as the fear of failure. If you achieve a stretch goal, like learning to ride a motorcycle, what else will you be called to do? When you’re timid in expressing your self, resistance wins and you stall.
- Coordinate clutch and throttle Part 2. Applying full throttle without fully releasing the clutch lever doesn’t get you anywhere, although the noise can be spectacular. You’re either inert or possibly inching along. Less throttle while letting go enables you to move through the friction zone and thus forward more effectively, with less stress – on rider and bike.You can put all kinds of energy into activities and create a lot of buzz. If you’re focused on the negative, it drains your energy and makes progress difficult. Directed positively, you expend less energy and achieve better results for body, mind and spirit.
- Burnout. Continuing to ride the clutch, especially at high throttle, risks burning it out.Allowing resistance to usurp your energy will eventually result in personal burnout.
- Brakes. Applying the rear brake while in the friction zone helps maintain balance and stops you from rolling backwards. You may stand still but you won’t lose ground.While choosing to stop or slow down may be appropriate when you feel overwhelmed, losing your balance and falling over will set you back. You’ll need even more energy to get going again.
- Slow Speed Control. Every time you move off, you go through the friction zone. It’s an essential skill for slow speed control. Using the energy of resistance in the friction zone to control the bike at slow speeds takes a lot of skill.Whenever you try something new, you move through an area of resistance, even if it’s short. Learning to redirect the energy of resistance into something positive requires a lot of practice.
- Controls. You alone control the motorcycle. Anything it does or how much power is used, is in response to your direction.You shape your lives by the choices you make and the actions you take. Sure, things happen outside your sphere of influence, but you always have a choice on how you respond. No one else can move you through the friction zone.
- Progression. Every time you shift gears you encounter the friction zone. This progression is necessary if you expect to travel anywhere. As you gain experience, you become more confident and adept at moving through the friction zone, into a higher gear without losing momentum.Life is full of new starts and challenges. You encounter the friction zone repeatedly and realize it’s necessary to teach you the skills you need to move to a higher level of consciousness. With practice, your confidence and ability to move through your own friction zone grows. You’re able to move on more easily without losing momentum.
- Focus. Using your eyes to steer is such an essential skill, it’s taught in the first lesson of the basic rider course. You quickly learn that you will go where you’re looking. Looking at the controls does not help you through the friction zone. They’ll be there for you when you need them. Focus on your goal, and that’s where you’ll go.Focusing on abundance and gratitude will move you through life’s friction zones more easily. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and beliefs and assess whether they’re moving you ahead or keeping you in the friction zone.
Whether you’re learning to ride a motorcycle or learning to live your life full out, understanding and mastering the friction zone is a fundamental skill for proficient riding – and joyful living.