Great idea...i ride with a commuter group (then home again) for 8 monthes of the year and wish I had a bike just for that ride. I think I'd put on some cyclocross tires for the packed pea gravel. I do have a old Schwinn (1988) but it never did feel quite right and I'd have trouble keeping up on it.
Found an old (circa 1975-1980) Puch Path Finder for my commutes. I picked this thing up for $16 USD. Added 2 new tires (approx. $40 USD) and now have a new commuter. I managed 8.3 miles at 16 mph this morning with about 20 lbs of backpack on my back.
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