Greetings from Anch, AK
For the last month I was in Japan attending Hokkaido University for a summer program and my hostfamily loaned me a mountain bike to turn a 30 minute walk into a ten minute ride. I just got back and looking into using a bicycle to commute here as well. Just wanted to give a little sound out from a newbie with some aspirations to getting more exercise and still get around this rather widespread town efficiently. I have a few concerns with winter biking though and just started looking for a decent bike for the good-to-non road conditions around town as well as handling snow and ice.
for winter biking, studded tires are nice...although you can get by without them. just watch out for sheet ice, that stuff is killer. it's an easy way to break bones if you fall wrong.