In this first installment of our "Better Know a Dot" series, meet newly "minted" cat. 2 racer Ricardo Moran. Learn about how he flew through the categories on a diet of POO rides, cold pizza, and dry sarcasm.

Ricardo always keeps it minty.

Where did you grow up? What was your cycling community like?

I grew up in Hawthorne, outside LA. The only people I knew who rode bikes were BMX shredders or beach bums strolling on cruisers. In any case, I had no clue I would have so much spandex in my closet later in life.

Where do you roll now? What are your favorite group rides?

The Bay Area cycling community is faaaaast. Seems like every couple weeks I meet some random rider who has never raced but can almost tear my legs off. The POO ride (Port of Oakland ride) is a personal favorite local group ride. A ton of strong riders show up. We do laps around the Port of Oakland and the road conditions are pretty bad. Great practice for going deep into pain cave and keeping the bike upright.

POO rides are the bedrock of Ricardo's training.

What?s the strangest thing that's happened to you on a bike?

This one time, I tried to impress a girl who was just getting into riding. I invited her on a stroll along the Bay to check out the sunset. We were cruising along and things were going well, but then, out of nowhere, a squirrel ran across and jumped straight into my cranks. It bounced off and hobbled away. I?m not sure it survived. The girl was pretty freaked out and put off by the fact that you?re so exposed to elements, wildlife, and road conditions when you ride a bike. We haven?t talked much since that day.

What are some quirks about you?

My pre-race ritual is weird, in that it?s not weird like the rituals of most cyclists I know. (Seriously, there are some characters in amateur cycling, and every time I spend a few days with some at stage races, I come back feeling more normal than ever.) The only thing I consistently have to have is a big cup of strong coffee. I drink it black. And I eat whatever?s around. Cheap motel continental breakfast? No problem. Cold leftover pizza? Done. I do have an ungodly infatuation with my popcorn air-popper, though. Easily the best $20 I?ve ever spent.

Do you have a day job? Hobbies?

I do freelance online marketing. My main clients vary from one of the world?s largest clothing retailers to grassroots non-profits in Oakland. My hobbies are rooting HARD for the Oakland Athletics and being on the lookout for dope new hip-hop. I?m also a big fan of dry sarcasm.

The A's are Ricardo's second-favorite sports team.

What got you into bike racing?

My first bike as an adult was a $25 mountain bike I got for commuting to Cal. It had a dope florescent green splatter paint job. My commute was like three miles, but I was immediately hooked. I sprinted for every yellow light and tried to catch as many other bike commuters as I could. From there, I kept seeking out faster and faster people to ride with. That meant getting a road bike and trying my hand at racing. I?ve been racing for three years and now I have the ?pleasure? of going up against the strongest bike riders in the Bay Area.

What brought you to Metromint?

Metromint is the first cycling team I?ve ever been on. Racing solo my first two seasons was fine, but I was always a bit bitter about being out-raced by organized squads. A friend of mine, Mitch Trux, was on Metromint Cycling and I looked up to his style of riding. He could get rad on the dirt but was also brutally strong on the road with not even the slightest hint of an ego. He told me that the whole Metromint squad was like that?fast and fun. I went out to some recruiting rides and ended up being offered a spot. I?ve loved every single minute on the team.

What has been your most memorable moment in dots?

My favorite win of last year was definitely Cat?s Hill. It?s weird how winning isn?t necessarily harder than not winning if you have good position and empty the tank at the right time. Going into the race, the plan was for me to support other teammates. As the race neared the end, I looked around and noticed my teammates weren?t around?I had been there before. I had been riding pretty comfortably, so I decided I would hang out near the front and see what I could do in the sprint.

I was sitting third wheel with about a lap and a half to go, when the rider right in front of me had one of the biggest lapses in judgment I?ve ever seen during a race. He tossed an empty bottle to his right on a right-hand turn. The bottle rolled back into the field and caused a small pile-up about 25 riders back. It's debatable whether any of those riders would have been able to move up in time to really contest the sprint, but one thing is for sure: it created a lot of chaos in the field. People sat up and looked around. The field swelled near the front as people tried to figure out what had happened.

I decided to just go for it. It wasn?t a rational decision with any thinking involved; it was just an instinct. I put in a big dig and rode the last lap and a half solo. I barely stuck it, but I took the win at the line. If the course had been 10 meters longer, I would have lost. I was pretty shocked it actually worked!

Most of us dream about winning Cat's Hill. Ricardo has actually done it!

As a freshly ?minted? cat. 2, what are your goals for 2013?

My goals for 2013 are to finish P/1/2 races slightly less cross-eyed and with less drooling than last year. I hope to learn some more race strategy and get into more breakaways. I would celebrate upgrading to cat. 1 like I would celebrate a newborn baby in the family, but I?m not stressing out about it at all. Overall, I just want to have fun and stay minty.