It’s … ‘sprinter?’

Mostly winter, with a hint of spring at lower right.

The weather is a tad confused. Is it spring? Winter?

Maybe we should call this between-times season “Sprinter.” I’ve been seeing a lot of its four-wheeled namesakes lately.

And while ordinarily this would lead me to reflect that this violates O’Grady’s First Law of Economics — “Anybody who makes more money than me makes too fucking much!” — I don’t really care.

I don’t have lust in my heart for a Sprinter. Even if I did, I have no place to park one. Anyway, I live in New Mexico, where nobody knows how to drive but plenty of people know how to steal.

Maybe once a Sprinter collects a few whiskey dents, parking-lot sidewipes, and improvised cardboard windows it becomes a less attractive target? Who knows?

A sampling of the APD’s Twatter feed.

Not me, Skeeter. My RV is a scratched-and-scraped 18-year-old ’Roo with a tent, sleeping bag, and two-burner Coleman in the back. Also, and too, AWD for when the weather finally makes up its mind and decides it’s winter again.

Which it was, on Wednesday and Thursday. And I only went outdoors to broom snow and buy soup fixin’s. No cycling, not even running.

But on Friday Herself and I managed a couple miles of jogging along the foothills trails — not too cold, but squishy underfoot — and yesterday I sacked up, dragged out a bike with fat tires and fenders, and went for a 90-minute spin.

I’m always amused to see The Duck! City’s response to a few inches of snow. God love ’em, the road crews spread more sand on one day than Bibleburg has used since my family moved there in 1967.

And of course it all winds up on the shoulder, in the bike lane. Hence the fat tires and fenders.

It must be frustrating, trying to save Burqueños from themselves. The road crews know these people can’t drive a straight line on dry roads at high noon on a sunny day. Building speed humps and roundabouts, installing traffic cameras and radar trailers, spreading sand over ice and snow … this is like trying to teach a bullfrog to sing “Ave Maria.”

Burqueños have better things to do. And they will do them while they are driving.

Some leadfoot passed me at warp factor five or so on Juan Tabo the other day. In the right lane. The right turn lane, to be precise.

I saw him coming up fast in the passenger-side mirror and thought, “OK, here we go. …” And sure enough, my man rocketed straight through the intersection at Montgomery and just kept on keepin’ on. I kept the mirror on,  but only just.

No idea what the rush was. The liquor stores weren’t about to close, and nobody was chasing him that I could see. No sirens, no gunfire. Maybe he’d just stolen the SUV from the Lowe’s parking lot and wanted to see what it could do.

One hopes he got a chance to test-drive the air bags and found them inadequate. And by “one,” I mean “me.”

So, yeah. No Sprinter for Your Humble Narrator. I know in my heart of hearts that as I was driving the shiny beast off the lot with the dealer plates still on I would hear a thunderous bang at the rear, pull over and stop to see what the actual fuck, and find a stolen Honda Civic parked on my sofa bed, leaking oil all over the Pendleton White Sands quilt.

The driver would be polishing off a tallboy and a text while his lady friend had a wee in the toilet-shower combo. Tugging a Sig Sauer from his waistband, he would mumble, “Shit, out of beer. Take us to the liquor store. There’s something wrong with this car.”

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31 Responses to “It’s … ‘sprinter?’”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    I test drove one a few weeks ago. Some takeaways:
    1. It would wipe out most of the bank account.
    2. It was ponderous. Even with a turbodiesel, it was ponderous. Reminded me of being in NROTC and having to take the helm and maneuver a destroyer for man overboard drills. I did that pretty well, but not my favorite thing.
    3. Too many things to go wrong, all resulting in further dips into the checkbook.
    4. Why spend over 100 grand on something that might get used a couple weeks a year?
    5. Someone might steal or hit it. Hence the need for yet more dips into the checkbook for comprehensive insurance.
    6. I thought of the idea of two people living in a Sprinter for a couple weeks straight and recalled what my dog thought of being kenneled. Or for that matter, that couple from Florida that thought it was cool to tour the country in a van.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You can get about a thousand nights in a serviceable motel room for the price of an Airstream Interstate 19, and you don’t have to put fuel in it, carry insurance on it, buy the tags, fix it when it breaks, figure out how to turn it around in a small space, or rent a place to park it.

      • Shawn Says:

        Good on you for running the numbers. I have a real problem about doing that and can justify not doing just about anything that way.

        Also: Not to mention the hassle of towing the Airstream all over the place.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’ve never driven a Sprinter, but I’ve been inside a few for a look-see, and I can’t imagine herding one along down the Great American Highway. Bloody ’ell, mate.

        Once I took a used Eurovan for a test drive and I thought, “I might could do this.” And then I thought again.

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          We had a 1993 Eurovan, Westfalia conversion with the 2.5 liter five cylinder engine, for five years and loved it. We then bought a 17 ft Casita travel trailer. Loved it too, but used it for shorter trips a day’s drive or less. Then we went to a Honda Element, a larger tent, and one of these.

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            Yea, that Element was the bee’s knees except the MPG was so so. The little trailer held 2 bikes and all the camping gear. Took it to Williams once and camped at the KOA on I-40. No more camping or biking for us, so we ordered a Corolla Hatchback. For the little driving we do, it seemed the lowest life cycle carbon solution.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I would buy a Honda Element in a heartbeat if they started making them again. I still can’t believe Honda thought that the Element was a redundancy taking sales away from the CR-V and the Pilot. It was a real weirdo aimed squarely at people like thee and mee. Rumors of its resurrection arise annually but nix.

          A neighbor has one that he’s taken good care of. Good dog-and-bike vehicle. I nearly bought one instead of the Forester; the only thing holding me back was that the Element had more blind spots than the Subie.

          • Herb from Michigan Says:

            Had me one of the first Elements in these here parts. Yes the poor fuel consumption was puzzling since it couldn’t get out of its own way fast enough. Highway merging was a test of nerves. Yet I would have stood in line to replace it with a six banger version or the turbo diesel they teased was coming. I had front wheel drive only and due to the weight distribution of the Element that didn’t cut it in snow. Even snow tires weren’t quite enough. It got swapped out for a Ridgeline that got same MPG but oh so much more power and traction.

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            I assumed the low MPG was caused by aerodynamics. The same drivetrain in a CRV got better mileage. The Element was a box on wheels. But, that gave a really spacious interior for its overall size.

          • Shawn Says:

            I passed up buying an AWD Element with a 5-speed once. It was a friend’s vehicle and she had a bad leg and wasn’t able to shift it. I coordinated selling it for her. I regret now not breaking the piggy bank and buying it from her. Especially considering that we already had the same chassis CRV sitting in the garage.

            I don’t think though that I would would mess with 2WD versions of the Element or CRV. I appreciate too much the viscous-coupling AWD design that Audi was so generous to offer the world back in the ’80’s and we now benefit from.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I did that calculation. Even with a slightly higher priced motel room, you are looking at two to three years of rooms not even counting gas, insurance, maintenance, and “who gets to flush out the black water tank, huh?”

        With more and more pet-friendly hotels out there, one can even travel with Miss Mutt pretty confidently.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I test drove one of those at the place out west of you on I-14. About 150k. Too rich for my blood.

  2. Flahute Says:

    Some of us up in the 801 have been calling the season “Sprinter” for more than a decade, because one day it can be 75-degrees, and snowing the next.

    For us, sprinter is usually the time between early-March to mid-May, although it has occasionally extended until June.

    I forget who actually coined the term, but I do remember having discussions with Burke “T-Bird” Swindlehurst about it in his Team Bissell days around 2008.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I knew it couldn’t have been original with me. Too smooth. That season where you start a ride wearing every bit of kit in the drawer and come home with most of it hanging out of your jersey pockets.

      • Shawn Says:

        It sure beats going out on nice sunny early spring day, dressed for the sun, and then worrying about whether hypothermia is going to get you as you foolishly stayed out after the sun started going down. Normally this occurs in those higher latitude or higher elevation locations.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        That was here, today. Herself and I went out for a run and as soon as we turned into the wind at about four minutes in we knew we were each a layer shy of being comfortable. Can’t put it on if you didn’t bring it. Woe, etc.

      • Flahute Says:

        When I lived in San Francisco, those days were called “Tuesday” (or “Wednesday” or “Thursday, and so on).

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Mark Twain was right about that place.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Or up at Red River, where some shed most of their warm clothing into the support van after the descent to Questa, and then the temperature drops into the thirties and it is snowing on Bobcat Pass.

        I normally carried my Camelbak, minus the bladder, and stashed all my heavy gear in it after noting that change of weather on one ride.

  3. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Here in the Mitten State, especially in the U.P., Spring has been mostly an elusive concept as we seem to be going from winter directly to summer these past years. One can easily think “it’s mid April-I should take a bike ride to town” only to find with the NW wind still about, it’s still colder outside than a mother-in-laws heart.
    As for POG’s math lesson by jingo he’s right. I sold the family cottage up north once I began to add up the bills for septic fields, roofing, plumbing work etc. All for maybe 20 total days of my use. Now we throw the keys on the table as we exit a VRBO with out a look back to see if a faucet is dripping or a toilet is running.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We unloaded the Weirdcliffe chalet for the same reason. It was just 75 miles away from our place in Bibleburg, but for some reason we just couldn’t be bothered to make the drive.

      And when we did, it seemed there was always something gone slightly pear-shaped. The P-traps had all dried out and so the aroma of septic tank was perfuming the place. Once a woodrat managed to find its way down the dryer-vent ductwork and into the house so it could drown in the downstairs terlet.

      I had felt suicidal a time or two in winter up there, so I had some fellow feeling for the poor ratoncito. Not so Herself, who was the one who found the body when she dashed indoors to pee after the 90-minute drive.

      The well was always in tiptop shape, and likewise the Pro-Panel roof, but there was a propane tank to fill and a wood stove to navigate and a chimbley to have swept and regularly scheduled power outages courtesy of a vengeful God and shit Internet and a poorly maintained dirt road that practically screamed “Here be Hillbillies” and fuck me running we listed the place with a local land hoor of our acquaintance, took the money, and never looked back lest we turn into pillars of salt.

  4. carl duellman Says:

    The weather here was pretty much perfect. Mid 30s in the morning warming to the upper 50s by lunch. Lunch was tacos that had to be earned by doing the 32 mile gravel loop. It was nice.

    I wanted a Sprinter van in a bad way back in the day. My girlfriend wouldn’t let me get one because she was scared I would run away. Now she has a Ford Transit 350 as a work vehicle. It’s big but not too bad to drive. She hides the keys so I can’t escape.

    What’s the deal with the high speed chases? I have gone my whole life and only heard about one but in the last 2 years I’ve seen 3 just in our neighborhood.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I like the small fry myself. The Toyota Chinook pop-top, the Eurovan/Vanagon Westfalia deals, like that there. But Herself would never take to sleeping in a tin can on the road. “Go ahead on, have fun,” she’d chirp. “I’ll be right here at home or at the Hilton, living in comfort.”

      The mechanic who worked the Southern Arizona Road Adventure tour I rode had an Element modified by Ursa Minor and it was the shit. I had lust in my heart for that vehicle.

      I could go for a Mercedes Metris pop-top if they offered AWD, but it’s RWD only. Also, I hear they want money for those things and Herself won’t let me have any. Now and then she stuffs an Andy Jackson in my shirt pocket and chortles, “Go wild, sport.”

      A high-speed chase came to an end in front of my hovel at Cascade and San Miguel in B-burg back in 1979, IIRC. The driver exited his vehicle at speed and ran up my fire escape. I grabbed my .380 semiauto peashooter just in case he was thinking in terms of coming in heavy, but he didn’t, which was fine, because I jammed the cheap piece of shit trying to chamber a round.

      That’s when I went out and boughtened the S&W .357 Magnum wheelgun. Them shits don’t jam, and if you get a misfire, they’re heavy enough for slapping all the rabies right out of your average intruder.

  5. Steve Orlik Says:

    Pati e O
    Stay low, I read that some of you ABQ libs may get drive by strafed by GOP sympathisers.

  6. Shawn Says:

    Yep, the mobile mini-cabins like the Sprinter van or the Ursa Minor pop-up are kind of nice, But for the same price I’m going to shop for a really big ass used Class A Winnebago. Why not have room for a couch too when you’re traveling. Who cares how hard it is too drive when everything will move out of your way when your letting her drift a little. And the view! Not to mention that you can set her on cruise control while you step in the back and make a cheese and pickle sandwich.

    But if you happen to pick up a Sprinter and need a place to park it, I’ve got a vacant RV parking pad. You’ll of course need to let me road test it every once in a while to make sure it is running properly.

    Regarding your recent passage by el leadfoot: In a moment of thought did you consider suddenly turning on your right turn signal just before the right-side pass? Such a small action can sure get a miscreant’s attention. “Officer I’m not sure why he suddenly decided to drive into the curb. I was going straight.”

  7. Opus the Poet Says:

    I make the motion to call the season that can’t decide if it’s winter or spring “Wing”.

  8. Pat O’Brien Says:

    The weather here can be described in five words. Hold on to your hat. Weather service is saying gusts to 65 mph today. Oh joy. And, it appears Northern New Mexico will share our misery, except with more snow for extra suffering. Hunker down folks, it’s going to be a long 24 hours! Get those camp lanterns and weather radios handy.

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