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3 years into it

I recommend a cyclo-cross bike.

I started mtbing about 3.5 years ago. I bought a Jamis Coda to do some road miles. It was a cool bike. However, within 6 months I was ready for much more mileage. I bought a used road bike. I kept the Coda for commuting and shorter winter training rides. Then I lost the Coda in a car accident. With the insurance money, I bought a Lemond Poprad frame and a good durable wheelset (XT hubs / Mavic Open Pro rims). I built the bike up with the re-useable Coda components and drop bars. I put a riser stem on it to make it a little more comfortable and still areo-dynamic. Now, I am ready to upgrade the original triple chain ring to a 36/47 cyclo-cross set up.

It is a good ride for a lot of different occasions. It will be a struggle to decide between that bike and my aluminum race bike to use for some of my summer ultra-endurance excursions.

In the short: a cyclo-cross bike will allow you to do a lot more than you are currently expecting to do, without having to constantly spend money on upgrades to meet your needs.
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