cross has started to look really really fun and im daydreaming about the idea of getting a cross bike and maybe even some low level racing.
my main question is whether i can have my cake and eat it too. say a cross bike in the 2000 and under zone that would be decent for a race but also do some fire trail/light camping. maybe even some fender attachments.
i know this might sound nuts but im an ignorant "gotta have it all" kind of guy. is there a good bike that will do both ?
also: i was under the impression that a good cross bike has the cabling routed along the top tube but i see a few that have the DR cables on the down tube like a road bike. are there major disadvantages to having them go along the down tube?
Cable routing is just preference, both setups have pros and cons but at the end of the day work well.
Lots of cx bikes have rack/fender attachments, at least if you only need a rear rack.
Lemond Poprad, Planet X Uncle John, Jamis Nova, Surly Cross-Check ... there are four off the top of my head that I've dealt with this year and would be happy with (they should all come out under budget ... the Uncle John is a frame set you could spec your own parts on, Surly can be a complete or a f/s).
The vast majority of the complete factory cyclocross bikes are designed to be more then just a race bike. You'll see fender and rack eyelets, and in some cases like the Bianchi Volpe, feature a touring triple crankset.
As for cable routing, running them in top of the TT keeps them out of the mud, but can get in the way when you do a suit case carry. Running them on the DT can get in the way when you grab that tube as part of getting the bike on your shoulder. Something to consider when choosing which to go with is how you'll attach the FD cable - the FD cable needs to come from underneath. Normal road bike routing has the FD cable come up from the BB shell, but cross bikes that run the FD cable on the top has some sort of pulley or the like on the ST to wrap the cable around before coming up to the FD.
Good luck and give cross racing a shot - it's the funnest type of bike racing!