In the Store: Most good shops offer demo programs: Before you buy, run a bike through your favorite rides.
A bike is like a good suit: It needs to be fitted. It's more cash, but proper alignment could determine whether or not you love the bike.
In the Field: Make sure your quick-release skewers are tight before every ride.
Bring the essentials: spare tube, tire levers, pump, and a multitool.
Brush up on basic maintenanceknowing which screw to turn could make the difference between a 15-minute tech stop and walking home.
At Home: Lubing your chain and airing up your tires will extend your bike's life.
Clean mud and road grime off your rig when you finish a ride; you won't want to do it when you're on your way out next time, and a quick once-over now will mean a better-running bike next week.