Sommers is the director of the upcoming Capital Criterium, a professional bicycle race that will take place in the District on Sunday. The race is being staged in support of D.C.'s bid to host part of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, which is one of the major bicycle races in the world.

When did you get involved in competitive cycling?

I first began ... when I was in junior high. I eventually gave up competitive cycling to play soccer and hockey. Later in life, as a result of an injury to my hip, where I could not longer run, I returned to cycling.

How did the idea for the Capital Criterium develop?

Basically, the idea developed because there was a desire on behalf of the Fenty administration to introduce a pro cycling event. Mayor Fenty is a big proponent of sports, particularly endurance sports. When he came into office, what Washington did not have was a high-profile cycling event.

How will this improve D.C.'s chances of hosting the start of the Giro d'Italia?

The Capital Criterium is a showcase cycling event, and of course, it's set on the one of the world's most striking boulevards [Pennsylvania Avenue]. The 2008 Capital Criterium caught the attention of the owners of the Giro d'Italia. With the race finishing in front of the Capitol, that image, which is a very striking image, it was really a very appealing, photogenic image that really started the owners' discussion about bringing the Giro d'Italia to D.C.

How do you feel about Pennsylvania Avenue's new bike lane?

Oh, it's great. I don't think there's a more powerful, symbolic or clear message that room will be opened for cyclists on America's streets than opening the bike lane on American's Main Street.

-- Joey Flechas