Thanks for all the feedback about Crosschecks, Soma's, Poprads, and the like. I've decided, for now, on the Surly. The shop has a used frame in good shape, they did a pretty comprehensive fit-kit fitting on me and they think the Surly will be better than the Soma because of the shorter top tube on the Surly which should make it easier to get the bars up high to take the pressure off my back. I think the other frames suggested--Gunnar, Lemond, etc are more aggressive in their geometry and less good for me. I'm still hoping to keep the bike down to 23-25 lbs so I can lift it, even with my back problems.
Anyway, now the focus turns to components for my commuter--bike trails--fire roads--light tourer--all around bicycle.
I welcome any and all feedback on the choices so far:
Surly Crosscheck 54cm frame (used $340--seems a bit high, no?)
Bontrager Select wheelset (shop suggestion)
Suntour XC-something cantis & levers off an old Fuji mtn bike I had
Sugino (I think) cranks off the same old bike (I'm still thinking about going with something new here)
Shimano XT front & rear derailleurs
Cane Creek S3 headset
Shimano Dura Ace 9spd bar ends
Shimano XT 11-34 cassette
pedals off the old Fuji
Haven't figured out tires yet or the saddle.
I'm trying to decide between a sprung saddle (Brooks B.67) or a regular saddle and a suspension post (Thudbuster ST or Rockshox.) I want something to take some of the bumps off the back while not adding ridiculous amounts of weight.
Tire suggestions for an all-rounder? (Panaracer Paselas, Kenda Kwicks, Schwalbe Marathons or Marathon X's--probably not the last ones, they are incredibly heavy.)
Oh my god, I am so excited for this bike. I can't wait to ride it. My next surgery (this time on my neck) is scheduled for early April--I want to ride this a chunk before then (one month at least no riding after---Aargh!!)