Hello all! I first want to thank and congratulate you all on this wonderful forum. From what I've seen and read, everyone truly helps each other out as much as possible, and with some great stories to boot! After being out of riding (I used to ride on homebrew MX tracks, trails, and sand on a RM125) for a while, I finally ran out of reasons not to get back out there riding again. I'm currently in Chino Hills, CA (East of LA, near San Bernardino), and watching friends and co-workers ride is getting to me but good. My friends are all true-blue Yamaha fanatics (you should see the trucks and toy haulers...looks like it rained and flooded Yamahas), and keep pushing me towards the 05 YZ450F. I've ridden my buddy's 450 some, and while the thing has more power than anything I've ever touched before, it seems manageable for what I'm looking to do (I keep off the throttle most of the time) if I don't get stupid with throttle control. I'd like to ride dunes and dry riverbeds, which is what I used to love doing the most (Pismo/Oceano, and now maybe Dumont and Glamis). Make no mistake, I am 100% beginner, and I won't claim otherwise. I do remember, however, that sand eats up power. I was first leaning towards the CRF450, but after hearing about their (maybe erroneous) valve/maintenance issues, I was very turned off. I've never heard of any of my friends' YZs having problems like that. I do not wish to be tearing down the top end every other ride. I was also looking YZ250F, and was told that it wouldn't do as well for me in the sand. At 5'11'' and 185lbs (does Thanksgiving add a notch to the belt, or what?), I'm not exactly a large rider, but not a small one, either. If anyone has any personal experience which may help me keep from a bad decision, I would be very grateful. Until then, thank you very much, and I hope to see some of you out riding SoCal soon!