I am in the same boat as you. I want a nice camera that I can learn with, but not outgrow quickly. b&h has the 40d (28-135 lens) as you said for $999 and it takes 6.5 fps. I am leaning this way just for the speed (the Nikons are around 4-5 fps in that price range, i think). It sounds like there are diehard Nikon and Canon fans that love their cameras. Anyone have experience with both?
With this, I have the same question as you do. Any reason to pass on a Canon 40d and look at a similar price Nikon (d80, d90, d200 that is not as fast? I know it is more to a camera than speed, but my reasearch tells me that both brands are quality and have plenty of gear availible.