So, Mark, how about this: Replace the rims before they GET to the point where your nightmare becomes real. You wouldn't even need to do it that oftenone of my bikes is an Eddy Merckx that's now about eight years old. Sure, the front rim got tacoed in a crash five years ago and needed replacing, but the back rim is still the original. Thousands of miles on it, and still goong strong. Even the wheels on my rain bikea veteran of wet, grit, and the pressure of V-brakessurvived four years before I replaced them, and that was because the non-Shimano/non-Campy hubs sucked.
Still, for $1,500 you could replace your rims every three years for the next two decades, so there is that to chew over before you rush out and slap down a grand and change.