I am looking to buy a cyclocross bike, but first let me tell you a little bit about myself.
As a teenager I had a Raleigh roadbike and did a lot of biking. This was all in the Netherlands where the roads are flat and usually very well maintained. Most biking is done on asphalt or sometimes cobblestones.
Then I stopped roadbiking once I got married and had children. The only biking I did was on my citybike for little tours (10-20 miles or so) with the kids and my daily commute (2 miles or so).
Back in 2004 I moved from Holland to Pittsburgh, PA and bought a Giant mountainbike as soon as I got here. I didn't really think there were any trails (duh, wrong) and I figured a mountainbike would give me some chance to bike on dirt roads.
This year my wife bought a hybrid Giant and she really found a lot of cool trails around the Pittsburgh area, and now we bike on a regular basis. We have even decided we want to cycle from Pittsburgh to Washington DC within the next 12 months! We probably cycle about 25 miles or so with kids but I would like to do more (50-60 miles or so) when the kids aren't there. Most trails are crushed limestone. I noticed that cycling on your mountainbike for about 25 miles or so really wears you out a lot more than on a hybrid and when we go uphill (lots of hills here in Western PA, but the trails are usually fairly flat, then again in the eyes of a Dutchman every hills looks like a mountain) it seems a lot easier on her hybrid than on my mtb.
So I decided to get bike that is better equipped for trails but that can also be used on asphalt (lot of potholes and cracks in the road here in Pittsburgh BTW) and gravel. The bike also needs to be able to either have a 6 year old attached with his tag along bike or pull a little trailer that would hold my tent and some clothes. Maybe a little carrier (a "backie") would be handy too. I figured a cyclocross bike would be the way to go.
Now I am 6 foot 3 (191 cm) and weigh 225 lbs (102 kg) so the bike needs to be strong enough to hold me and carry/pull some luggage or 6 year old.
I am looking to spend about $1250. I decided that the following bikes could work.
Fuji Cross Comp
Specialized Tricross Sport
Trek 520 (not really a cyclocross bike I believe)
Then I noticed that some bike have 32 spokes (Specialized) while others only have 20 or 24 (Bianchi, most Trek's). I believe that a guy with my weight should go with at least 28 spokes, but maybe I am wrong. I prefer to buy the bike as it is and not replace any parts for the first few years. The tires probably need to be at least 28c right?
Looking at my situation and the bikes I have listed, which bike would you recommend? Or would you maybe recommend a different bike? Please let me know.