The short of it:
I'm lucky enough to have 220 miles of rail trail out my back door, so ~90% of my training takes place on crushed gravel/dg paths and I do a couple of road centuries each year. So, do I go with a road bike or a CX bike?
The long of it:
I'm a mountain biker who's looking for some better options for training and the occasional road century than my hardtail provides. I find myself looking for some drops and finding none! I'm fit but big (210lbs). I've been racing off-road since 2001, done several 24 hour races, and last year finished my first road century in 5h 40m on my hardtail (with skinny tires). I like disc brakes a ton, but have resigned myself to not having them on this next bike (sniff).
Test rode a Specialized Allez and found it predictable but nothing to get excited about, liked the stability of the Tricross but found it too upright, and really liked the handling and ride quality of the Bianchi Via Narone I tested, but worry about the durability of the carbon (is this unfounded?) stays and fork given the rail trail I'd be riding it on. I did really like the cheater brakes that came on it (I'm a mountain biker at heart).
I did race cross once last season and liked it, but I figure I can always do that on my hardtail if need be. That said, I have been eyeing the Giant TCX 1, Scott Addict CX and the Redline Conquest (which has disc tabs!). I was kicking around the idea of the Motobecane Fantom Cross Outlaw due to the discs, but have discarded that as I can't test it.
So, thoughts? I really appreciate the input!