I decided to face reality over the last couple of weekends: My supposedly temporary fork and wheel fix is HIGHLY likely to make its anniversary in a couple of months and so I thought I might as well embrace this as fully as possible by gutting the shifters from my road bike lever and using that instead of the wrong (for multiple reasons) lever I've been using since the end of 2011. I liked the Microshift shifters at the time, but they really are good value for money as can be completely disassembled and serviced; removing the shifting levers and mechanism to leave just the brake lever was a doddle.
When my first set of drops died I replaced them with some lovely Planet-X Strada shallow drops. With the first set I had managed to wiggle the brake lever I had from the original riser handlebars right up so it was mounted like a CX bike would have top mounts or interrupters. You can tell this by not being able to see the brake lever here (this is not brakeless!). With the Strada drops I could only manage to get the lever halfway up the drop. This looked odd (unfortunately I don't think I have a photo), but worked ok. I had a hand position below the lever and one above it - just, it doesn't work so well with the bulk of winter mittens. It wasn't too uncomfortable on the road at least, continued to work fine with the original V-brakes (as it should), and was in a more handy place for me for braking since I like to ride in the drops.
When I changed forks I had to use a calliper brake. The brake lever continued to work because it had more pull than the calliper needed. This also had the added bonus of allowing more clearance for wobbly wheels, i.e. running the calliper more open. But the immediate downside was less mechanical advantage and I could never really stop with this set-up. Just slow down. And there is at least one sketchy downhill bit where the track crosses a fast road where I'd like it to not be so sketchy.
Now I can actually brake properly! No more running into the back of lorries (only did that once, and fortunately it was very slowly). And I really, really, really appreciate the comfort that comes when wearing mittens. Previously the clamp of the brake lever would dig into my palm (very noticeable offroad) and would also get in the way of me being able to curl my fingers up in my mitten for warmth (the whole point of mittens).
Probably should have done this sooner. I can't believe I've cycled for so long with the wrong kind of brake lever!