Tag Archives: intersection

360 NB to MoPac NB

360 to MoPac On-ramp

360 to MoPac On-ramp

When heading north on 360 and connecting to MoPac northbound, you head downhill and hit the bottom near the MoPac overpass. Then you have to drive uphill to get onto MoPac. This hill isn’t a challenge. If I can get up to highway speed in a 22-year-old sedan with a 114 HP 4-cylinder, then your V8 pickups and POS Corollas are more than capable of getting there (maybe if you have one of those 70 HP Smart cars, then you have an excuse). I mean, seriously, you need to be AT highway speed at the end of the on-ramp! It does give me a good excuse to blow out the carbon though. It is quite satisfying to floor it up the hill in third gear while flying past them while still way under the speed limit once we’re all on MoPac (because these idiots are going 40 MPH once they get on the highway). These slowpokes have no business driving.

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Rear-wheel-drive and rain

Slippery when wet

Slippery when wet

It rained the other night as I left work. I wasn’t expecting it to rain, but I figured it would be fun to play with the Volvo. I didn’t think the tires were that bad, but it seemed like it would break loose every time I got on the gas. It’s amazing how that little 4-cylinder can overpower the traction so easily. I did a few benign fishtailing around some corners as I went home, but nothing too crazy until I got onto the MoPac frontage road.

It’s very oddly designed intersection as it’s a T-intersection that goes under MoPac, but as it approaches the southbound frontage road, it curves slightly to the right so making that left turn is roughly a 100 degree change in direction. I usually just cut the corner to keep the racing line so I don’t lose too much speed. Yeah, too much Forza Motorsports or Gran Turismo does that to the brain. Unfortunately, unlike a video game, driving your car recklessly has much higher consequences.

As I approach the turn like I’ve done a hundred times before, I start drifting as I hit the apex of the turn. I think I might have lifted my foot off the throttle and it induced lift-off oversteer causing the rear end to come loose. In a video game, I’d let go of the gas and drift around. This is no video game. Having only owned front-wheel-drive cars since I got my license I’ve learned that punching the gas usually straightens out the car if the rear end comes loose. Bad mistake!

I instinctively punch the gas pedal and boy did that make things worse! As soon as I touched the pedal, the whole car just spun like a top! I only remember a blur of the car spinning 360 degrees around like it was on a turntable and coming to a stop facing the wrong way of the one-way frontage road. I was now staring at the grille of the Escalade that was previously behind me. Suffice to say I think everyone in this situation felt a bit awkward.

It took me a couple seconds (which felt more like minutes) to realize WTF just happened because it happened so damn fast and unexpectedly. I was also partially in awe that the little Volvo managed to do a stunt like that. I’m surprised that traffic in the other left-turn lane just kept going after seeing a car spin 540 degrees in two lanes of traffic! I’m probably sure that the person driving the Escalade was glad they didn’t get wiped out by a beater Volvo that looks like the many uninsured beaters roaming the city (don’t worry, I’m insured). I definitely drove a little more carefully the rest of the way home!

It’s amazing the technological advances in safety that have made cars safer because my other car has traction control and electronic stability control which prevents the car from spinning (it’s also front-wheel-drive so it’s less likely to spin out like this in a turn). On the other hand, because the newer technology shields the driver from danger, he won’t know what the true dangers are out there. I immediately knew the roads were slick when driving the Volvo because it spun the tires fairly easily so I knew I could get into trouble. With my other car I would drive the wet roads as aggressively as I normally do on dry roads because of the safety features. It’s funny how technology makes us safer, but act more foolish because of the hidden dangers.


This sign big enough for you?

Left lane US183

Left lane US183

You’d think something as important as trying to get on the highway would require a large sign to get your attention. Nope! Why waste something like that on an overhead sign when a 3 foot sign in the median would work just fine like this one at US183 and Braker Lane? That’s a nice big FU from the transportation department.


Ready, set, go!

The other day my coworker mentioned that he though people took off from traffic lights too fast around here. I laughed because I thought people took off too slow! It’s like people here think green lights are an infinite resource so they just take their time to get through the intersection. I know everyone has to go through the same intersection every day so why haven’t they figured out the light timing yet? Oh right, they’re too busy texting to see that the light has changed to green. You’d think that since this was NASCAR country people would be ready when the intersecting light turned yellow!


MoPac and 35th Street

MoPac and 35th Street

MoPac and 35th Street

MoPac and 35th Street is one of my favorite intersections in town only because it has hella tight cloverleaf on and off ramps which makes it interesting to fly around. It also has a feeder road that starts and ends as an on and off ramp as well. It seems some people don’t understand that if you’re getting onto the feeder road from 35th street, you need to yield to those getting off MoPac. TxDot has added flashing yield signs to get the point across even farther. Seriously, if you’re getting onto the freeway, get up to speed and don’t block the ones getting off! The other day some lady in a Chrysler 300 tried to race me towards the end of the dual-lane part of the feeder road. I had the right-of-way since I was getting off MoPac and trying to get onto the cloverleaf. I managed to make my move with barely any room to spare and entered the off-ramp a bit faster than I wanted since stability control kicked in to save my ass. I hate people.


Satisfaction

Sunday drive

Sunday drive

There’s nothing more satisfying than a perfectly timed, rev-matched down-shift. That feeling of approaching the top of the hill with a stale green light not knowing when it’ll change to yellow just gets the adrenaline pumping. Once you’ve past the point of no return and know you can make it before the light changes, your heart bursts with emotion for the next trick. Clutch in… downshift… tap gas… clutch out… and BAM it’s perfect. Accelerate through the left turn and upshift out of the intersection. The smile shows itself as the others wish they could be as awesome as you.


Eastbound and Down

I’m rarely on I-35 and even rarer needed to go on eastbound TX71 from I-35. The other day I needed to go the airport from downtown and knew I needed to take eastbound TX71 there, so I’m on the lookout for the off-ramp. If you’re not already familiar with the roads in Austin, you’re gonna have a bad time. Here I encounter the junction of I-35 and TX71. It could be a dedicated fly-over or it could put you on the frontage road or there just isn’t an exit. You never know unless you’ve driven here before. Well, the signs only indicate a westbound route. This leaves you thinking if there’s another exit or no exit for eastbound.

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290

Getting closer, there is no sign indicating there is an eastbound TX71 exit. Knowing very well that I needed to go to the airport, I took my chances with the westbound exit because of the airport sign.

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290 about to exit

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290 about to exit

Lo-and-behold there’s the sign indicating the exit for eastbound TX71! Why oh why wasn’t this marked earlier?!

TX71 eastbound: left fork

TX71 eastbound: left fork