If you go

What: Bikes and Bytes hackfest

When: Tuesday, May 14, 6 p.m.

Where: Quick Left, 902 Pearl St., Boulder

More info: http://quickleft.com/

Bike geeks and code geeks have a lot more in common than either group might think.

They're both competitive, both like keeping up with the latest trends and gadgets, and there's an abundance of them in Boulder.

The two groups will come together Tuesday for a "hackfest" -- an event where software engineers, web developers and coders get together to create new products, apps or tools in a short period of time, in this case, three hours. The Bikes and Bytes hackfest, hosted by Quick Left and PeopleForBikes.org, celebrates both National Bike Month and Boulder Startup Week by bringing together nerds on two wheels.

"A lot of these tech companies, a lot of their employees like to bike," said PeopleForBikes.org spokeswoman Kate Powlison. "It's a natural thing to the tech world."


One of the ways hackers can help cyclists is by building tools to consolidate all of the data around bikes, like their heart rate, power and even the number of accidents that occur on certain intersections in town. Organizations like PeopleForBikes.org use stats to prove that a new bike lane is needed, and hackers can help them figure out how to crunch that data.

The idea behind a hackfest, Powlison said, is to spark creativity more so than create an actual polished finished product. Teams form the night of the hackfest, and the event organizers hope to have at least one cycling aficionado on every team to help with ideas. Often, an idea will form because of a problem. Hackers like to solver problems, said Quick Left spokeswoman Rachel Scott.

The majority of Quick Left employees bike in some capacity, be it commuting, racing or joy riding: Scott co-founded the Naked Women's Racing team; Quick Left's CEO Ingrid Alongi, a four-time national champion on the track, cycles for team Naked Women's Racing with a few other Quick Left employees.

The company name has cycling roots, too. A few of the founding employees would take quick rides up Lefthand Canyon, so "let's go take a quick left" became a common phrase for them, according to Scott.

Many startups and tech businesses in Boulder encourage their employees to bike by providing bike racks, showers and flexible schedules for lunch rides.

"Everyone here has a bike rack, whether for commuting purposes or riding purposes," Scott said.

University of Colorado cycling team coach and FasCat Coaching head coach Frank Overton said he plans to attend the hackfest. He will not be "hacking," per se, he said, but helping to provide some inspiration for the computer scientists.

Overton noted how far cycling technology has come in the last decade. In the 1990s, people had "old fashioned speedometers" at best. Now, cyclists can collect mountains of data from their rides, which helps coaches create better workouts and training regimens for them. "Any app or web interface or agent that can enable athletes to transfer their data to us as coaches and enhance communication is something of great interest to us," he said.

Overton said he wasn't surprised at the collaboration between computer geeks and bike geeks. The Bikes and Bytes hackfest seemed like a logical marriage of the two groups.

"Boulder as a whole, so many people in Boulder ride bikes and love to ride bikes, and so many people in Boulder are in the tech industry or computer programming," he said. "There's no surprise there's overlap between the two."

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.