Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ottawa ON
Bikes: '04 Trek 1000, '05 Devinci Millenium; 07 Spec. Allez
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I agree with the comments above. It sounds like you could use two bikes.
A couple of things to keep in mind in researching your purchase.
1. Bike security. At school, nice bikes become magnets for thieves.
2. Extras. To get the most out of your cycling experience, I recommend you purchase the essentials at the start: Lock, helmet, jersey, good shorts, and gloves. Plus, pump, extra tube, repair kit, water bottle & holder and oil.
All the above could easily exceed $200 for fair quality, entry level gear. So, if you're looking new, and accounting for tax, you're looking at a bike in the $600-700 range. Feasible for sure on entry level bikes. Entry level bikes are made to handle distances you describe.
On the other hand, Craigslist and UsedOttawa.com can be good resources. Just be sure you know what size frame you require.
I'll assume that by "trails', you mean packed gravel and not the root & rock infested type. Trek's 7.X series is a nice bike. And I'm sure Giant and Specialized have similar products. I highly recommend Full Cycle (St. Laurent blvd). Award Cycle (Carlingv Ave) and G.M. Bertrand in Gatineau depending on your location in the city.
If you have any specific questions, you can PM me. Good luck in your search. I'm sure you'll come to love the cycling opportunities in Ottawa.