The short answer to your question: Sure, that would work. A cyclocross bike is essentially a bike that looks sorta like a road bike, but that has a frame built like a mountain bike, and tires somewhere in between. Cyclocross racing, as most readers know, is a bike race run on a dirt course that isn't as rugged as a pure mountain-bike course, but that still places considerable off-road demands on the bike and rider. So cross bikes have to finesse the line between speed and durability. In addition to their tougher-than-a-road-bike frame, they also have provision for cantilever brakes for better wet braking (or even, on newer models, disc brakes).
They're very versatileI use a Cannondale cross bike, with smooth tires, as a rain bike. Overall, a cross bike would work great for commuting and general road cycling, and very well on logging roads and good trails. On technical trails it'll start to fail a littlethe handling and low-speed gearing won't match up to a good mountain bike, and few cyclocross bikes have provision for shock absorbers. Not so good on real hilly routes, especially off-road.
Cross bikes remain a fairly exotic creature, but several companies make them. Trek's XO-1 ($950) is a good representative model, with an aluminum frame, triple chainring, and knobby-but-skinny tires. A step up is Cannondale's Cyclocross Disc, which puts disc brakes on an aluminum frame. It's more of a racer than the Trek, with a double-chainring, rather than a triple, and a nice mix of 105 and Ultegra components.
You're a good man, Michael. I feel like a better person for just having had this brief contact with you. I'm sure your wife will find your gesture surprising, even shocking, and no doubt perfect grounds for divorce.
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