I've recently gotten back into cycling with a LeMond Tourmalet road bike. Besides group rides, this bike also works well enough getting around on the paved parts of the recreational trails in my area (Cedar Rapids, IA). Now that I've gotten my tax refund though, I've started to consider whether or not I should get a second bike (I'm pretty sure the answer is yes). The goal for the second bike would be to tow my kids in a Burley trailer, ride the ag-lime and gravel portions of trails, and maybe do some off-road riding.
I will admit that I'm cheap, but I'm also becoming something of a bike geek. A cyclocross bike like the Bianchi Volpe appeals to me, but I wonder if I'd have more fun with something I could ride more technical trails with. I've began looking at bikes like the Iron Horse Maverick 5.5 at Performance that runs in the $400 range, which would cover all the types of riding I'm interested in.
Then I went to my LBS today, and saw a GT Peace 9r. I really like the idea of not having to deal with derailleur and fork maintenance, but at $550, it's a little more money than I was hoping to spend. If I buy all the hyperbole about singlespeeds and 29 inch wheels, it might be worth it if the mountain bike gearing is low enough that I can pull my kids around. I'll try to get back and take a test ride to get a sense of gearing, but I'm not sure how to judge how much more effort is involved when a kid-loaded trailer is attached.
I'm pretty sure my four year old daughter will never let me forget the first time I have to dismount to walk her up a hill. She's already letting me know I'm getting old. That said, this is Iowa, and I've seen some very well fed (but friendly) people carrying more than my family's combined weight up the steepest of the trail hills.
So will a 29er SS bike be flexible enough for my goals? Or do I need to go with gears in one form or another?
Sorry for the long post.