Looks like I'll have about $500 extra available for a bike soon with any luck. Looking to commute (only 3 miles each way with only one serious hill) and tour (lots more miles and lots more hills, all on the Official Road Surface of Texas; chipseal) with the same bike. I'm in an area with very little in the way of Craigslist opportunities, and the closest bike shop is 30 miles away, (the closest big one is 70) so watching for deals can take months.
I have a lead on a barely-ridden-and-stored-in-the-garage Dawes Lightning 1000 for $200 if I ever hear back from the guy to find out if it's the right size and get a look at its condition. I've also looked at the Windsor Tourist if I can add a few extra bucks to the fund, or the Dawes Lightning Cross, which seems possibly better suited for the roads here. Part of the problem is that racks, etc. also need to come out of the $500, so the less I spend on the bike itself, the more I can spend on swapping components and fitting it out.
I could, of course, easily commute on my Trek 7100 (If not for that hill, I'd be restoring one of the old three-speed tricycles with the huge basket in back.) by putting a good pannier rack on it, and I've been wanting to turn my old Ironhorse into a short-haul utility bike, but I've been wanting a touring bike anyway, so it makes sense to use that for the daily "pack mule," since it needs to be able to carry a lot more than I need at work anyway. To that end, I've been putting extra money toward the touring bike fund rather than fitting out either of the existing ones with cargo space. (Though I still want to put a rack on the Trek if there's enough left in the bike fund afterward.)
So, the issues as I see them:
- Chipseal is as good as it gets around here.
- Most routes are going to include at least some county roads, which may not have seen proper maintenance in a while. Not quite hybrid territory, but pretty close.
- Commute load is a widescreen laptop, steel-toe boots, and regular work clothes.
- It's Texas; it's hot. Two bottles and a Camelbak will be the absolute minimum water load for summer rides. (Other than the commute, obviously.)