Thanks everyone for the advice. I need to clarify some things. My cycling nomenclature is flawed. It wasn't long ago that I first learned the term "pannier". I just thought they were saddle bags, until someone called them panniers. And I ran wild with it. For the record, I carried about 25 lbs of stuff on my rear rack, including the Bontrager interchange unit and two SADDLEBAGS. Sorry for the confusion. But I really spent too much time on the carry-on and not enough time explaining what my real question is. With that amount of load, I know I can use my Trek 1.2. But I'm curious to know how much better (if any) the Surly LHT would ride with a load like that? (BTW, I'm currently 210 lbs and shrinking, so that may be a factor.)I'm talking the wear and tear on my body from road cracks, bumps etc. I know the LHT can be loaded down and performs nicely. Maybe I've got it wrong, but CCT to me means the bike selection is in the category of "tweener". I guess we all like to classify things. Thanks indyfabz for bring that to our attention. And thanks Russ, for destroying all my cycling confidence. At least until I figure this all out. Just kidding, I appreciate all of your input. I've at least learned to use resources other than the LBS. I thought with my limited experience I could count on theirs. Most of the problems I had on my short tour were the result of that "advice". Rack, saddle bags, inferior tires. But it was a hell of a good time anyway. Keep the suggestions coming!
My advice - ride whatever you have but get out there and ride. If the bike doesn't work to your satisfaction try something different. I have 12 bikes, from full carbon race bikes, xc mountain bikes, hard tails, , touring bikes, etc. The bike I do most of my trips on? A butted steel 27 year old Bianchi Nyala mountain bike. Weighs a ton, has too short a wheel base so my foot occasionally hits my bags, etc. However, I have been riding it since 1985 and it has never failed me. With touring tires I can average 14 mph all day cause the gearing and I are meant to be. And boy oh boy have we had adventures.
My new Disc Trucker is fantastic and may become my default touring bike sometime in the future but that old, beat up Bianchi is, right now, my hands down winner.