For a first time buyer I'd not get such an expensive bike. If you end up not liking cycling too much, you'll have a $1k dust holder in your garage...
Go get something cheap like a Trek 820 or 4100, or something along those lines. Walk into your local bike shop and explain your intentions. If you REALLY get into cycling, then go spend $1k on a bike and sell off the cheapie.
Then again if you are already into cycling and this is your first time NEW purchase, and you already know what you want, then simply check out your local bike shops and see what they've got. There are some books you can get at the library too that have excellent shopping tips. One I read had a whole chapter on just HOW to shop for a bike!
What do you want to use the bike for, fitness, racing, day tours, commuting?
There is nothing wrong with the Treks, except the difficulty of fitting front fenders and (possibly) the lack of a luggage rack thread on the frame. These can turn a sport bike into a practical commuting machine.
For good entry-level bikes, I think Fuji are heard to beat.
There are a lot of good brands, but its more important to find a good bike shop. You need to get a bike the correct size and you need post-sales backup.
Ok, first off, this is my first purchase of a decent bike. I have ridden very low end bikes occassionally since I was a kid. I am just about 40, and have followed
cycling for about 10 years now. I finally want to make the plunge and get on the road. Second, I thought about getting a bike in the 300 to 500 dollar range at first, but then what if I wanted to upgrade fairly quickly? Did I just waste my dough? I don't know for sure, but I figured that getting something in the 700 to 1000 dollar range would satisfy me for a while. Thirdly, I want to use the bike for training rides, day tours, and maybe even racing. I did go to the two lbs, and here are my choices at the shops: Trek 1200 2003, or 1500 2003, Fuji Newest '04, and Specialized Allez sport '04
Catching his breath alongside a road near Seattle, WA USA
1999 K2 OzM, 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte
I think the Treks are a pretty safe bet. Barring that the original poster has just said that this will not be his/her first foray into the sport, if he/she did make the mistake of buying a midrange bike and then not liking cycling, he/she could always recoup a pretty good amount of the money selling the Trek which has a nice name brand attached to it given recent popular events and celebrities.
That said, to the original poster. I will second the Fujis. They're underrated but good bikes. You might also want to check out the Giant OCR2 but be careful with sizing and make sure the fit is spot-on without having to adjust the stem and saddle to extreme degrees. I have a real soft-spot for the Specialized Allez (used to own one myself) and think they're a great all-around bike with good value for the price. I'd be looking at the Allez Elites in that lineup. Also you might want to look at Felts and Ibex bikes. Another brand to check out is LeMond (owned by Trek). The LeMond Reno is right in your pricerange, handles nimbly and has a good set of components.
I just got a Trek 1200 & am happy with it. The Specialized Allez Sport is also a good bike. Consider your budget, you say max $1K, figure you'll probably want some other stuff to go with the bike (computer, pedals, shoes, shorts, helmet, etc. if you don't have any of this stuff already), so is your budget for the bike or for everything else you'll need too? Also consider how much riding you plan to do and if it's worth spending the extra money for the $1K bike, or will you be just as happy staying in the $700 range?