CRYSTAL LAKE – Bob Olsen is at it again.
This time the owner of Wheel Werks Bikes in downtown Crystal Lake is biking across Peru with PAC Tours, a bicycling vacation outfitter with a humanitarian bent that was created by a local biking legend.
PAC Tours was founded by long-distance biking legend Lon Haldeman of Harvard and his wife, Susan Notorangelo. In addition to organizing epic bike trips, they bring supplies to schools, orphanages, and help fund humanitarian projects in the countries they visit.
Last year, Olsen toured Ghana on a bamboo bicycle. This year, he'll be biking about 65 miles a day throughout Peru for two weeks. At elevations 12,000 feet. a 65-mile ride feels more like a 100-mile ride.
"I don't know how I'm going to find enough air to get through this one," Olsen said before flying to Lima earlier this month.
Olsen will be riding a custom-built bike during the trek, but the bike won't be coming back to Crystal Lake with him.
Olsen will donate the bike to a Peruvian child at the end of the tour. Olsen, a 44-year-old who specializes in custom bike fitting, said he will do as many fittings in Peru as possible. Part of the goal is to promote cycling. Other riders on the trip also will donate bikes.
In recent years, PAC Tours has built a school for 350 students in the Amazon rain forest, supported the Puerto Ocopa Orphanage and the Chosica Boarding School and Orphanage, hosted annual birthday parties (with presents of new clothes) for about 40 homeless children in Iquitos, bought shoes for children in a village near Cuzco, and brought hundreds of books to rural schools in the mountains and jungles.
PAC Tours riders have raised more than $50,000 for these projects the past three years. The organization is planning to build a $25,000 school in a remote village near the Amazon, according to its website, www.pactour.com.