Ok, for those that don't know, Ive been checking out this forum, gathering information, asking questions, going to LBSs, basically doing it all trying to find the perfect tour bike for 6 or 7 months now.
A timeline as to my thinking of what bike I wanted:
1st I wanted a Trek 520
Then a Cannondale T2000
Then a Cannondale T800
Then Windsor Cyclist
Then Fuji Tourist
Then a 1998 Trek 520
Then a Surly CrossCheck
Then a built up LHT
And low and behold, what bike did I buy today?????? Drum roll please...............................
I am pumped! The bike felt amazing. I had been so wrapped up in trying to find the perfect specs that I had basically elimated anything with anything less than 440 chainstays. When I told the LBS that I wanted the Cross Check for touring, he told me to try out the Volpe (something he didnt have to do as it is half the price). I'm glad I did, man what a smooth bike.
I rode it around and after about 3 minutes knew I was going to buy it. My only question was if my heels would make contact with panniers when fully loaded. So he loaded it up for me, there was plenty of room for clearance.
I will need to switch out some components, but I figure I can do that over time and eventually build my way up to the LHT.
So, now that I have completed the hardest part touring (buying your first real bike) my advice to others would be:
GO OUT AND BUY A BIKE. Dont obsess over every detail, get out and get out and ride, you can always make changes, and worse case scenario is you dont like it and have to put it on ebay where it virtually sells for the same price.