It's getting increasingly obvious that my bike is all wrong for me. I ride on crappy roads/gravel; the bike has an unforgiving aluminum frame and skinny little tires. I carry a days worth of gear with me, sometimes in rain: bike has no fender or rack mounts. I have lower back issues: bike has far too aggressive geometry and doesn't even fit me that well leaving me with a perpetually sore mid-lower back. And so on, etc. The morals of the story: many bike shops really don't give a shit about what you need, and I need a new bike. I would like a used bike (for price and environmental reasons), with a steel frame, room for fat tires and fenders, 700c or 650b wheel-size, fender and rack mounts, upright riding position, and I wouldn't mind if it looked sexy. Maybe a pastel colour. I was reading the surly blog recently and they've posted pictures fom their recent trip to Japan featuring several pastel bikes that are quite attractive. Maybe a trip to Japan is in order.