The first real “road” ride I did when I started biking last summer was Mopac.
Mopac Expressway (also known as Loop 1) runs south-to-north through Austin, west of the downtown area. By the time it gets down to my part of town, traffic has thinned out considerably, which makes it an attractive ride venue. It’s still a divided four-lane highway. It also has wide shoulders.
On weekend mornings, Mopac south of Slaughter Lane hosts many bikers. The ride along this section of the expressway is simple: Go south a couple of miles until Mopac turns west. It becomes Texas 45 at this point. There’s still a marked shoulder, but the paint line that defines it presses toward the curb as you approach some entrances to residential subdivisions. The road here has some long uphills. Stay on the wide shoulder all the way out to Ranch Road 1826.
Just before you get to 1826, check traffic and cross into the left shoulder. At the junction, you can turn left, and stay on the shoulder for the northbound 1826 traffic. It was recently resurfaced. In about 100 yards, you’ll reach the eastbound lanes of Texas 45. Cross the traffic lanes and pick up the shoulder. This is the start of a downhill section, which features two or three nice descents. It’s fairly easy to top 35 – even 40 mph along this stretch.
Once Texas 45 reaches Mopac, you follow the curve around to the north, and several uphill climbs to the stoplight at LaCrosse. Here, you have the option to turn right and head for the Veloway – just a quarter-mile down – or turn left on LaCrosse to the southbound lanes of Mopac, and do another Mopac loop.
From my house, it’s about 2.5 miles to Mopac. The out-and-back loop is 8.12 miles. If I do three “Mopac Loops” I’ve done 29+ miles.
It’s not my favorite ride in the area, but it’s convenient if I want to get out on the road.