I agree with your philosophy: even tho I don't track my cars anymore, I check the pads at least at every oil change. Also, although i was able to find replacement front pads with sensors, I would have had to go OEM (~ $800) for the rears, so I bypassed those anyway.
There are two ways to bypass:
1. Under the dash (there are a couple of threads here how to do that)
2. AT the left-front wheel (connect pin 1 to ground)
Method #1 is surer because with #2 you still have the chance that the wire from the ECU to LF breaks.