Commuter Profile: Elizabeth Adamczyk

Meet Elizabeth Adamczyk — Elizabeth is a circulation supervisor for Northwestern University Library’s Chicago campus branch and is also a dedicated bike commuter. Here is her profile:

Elizabeth Adamczyk

Why do you bike commute?
Living in Chicago, it’s just so much easier to hop on my bike in the morning and go. I never looked forward to the crowded bus or EL ride (or the long wait for public transit). Riding my bike is my favorite part of the day, plus it has cut my commute time almost in half.

How long have you been bike commuting?
My commute started as something of convenience on “nice” days a few years ago. I was a fair-weather cyclist for a while. But once I got the right gear and fenders, I now opt to commute year round. (Last year was my first Bike Winter.)

Chicago skyline

What kind of bikes do you have?
I have a Jamis Nova cyclocross that I now primarily ride on weekends. My commuter bike is my old Schwinn Sprint from the early 90s. It’s “the tank” or “the purple demon?.

How long is your commute?
My commute usually takes me close to 5 miles each way, around 25 minutes.

Any funny or interesting story that you may want to share.
First off, in the winter I wear a screaming yellow color jacket. The guy
driving the garbage truck in my alley waved and smiled at me as I trudged my bike past him and his truck through the unplowed alley to the street. He thought I was nuts for riding in such weather. Then he told me he wished more bikers stood out as much as I do with my lights and bright clothing. He also told me to be safe out there. I asked him to watch out for me and fellow bikers on the road. From that day on, he has always nodded at me when we pass each other. What a great way to start that day.

Last winter I struggled with keeping my fingers and toes warm. I remember being almost to work one morning and my fingers were SOOO cold that I could barely use them to apply my brakes. When I finally got indoors, my only thoughts were not that ‘it’s too cold to ride’ but rather ‘what more can I do to keep my fingers warm? I don’t want to stop riding because of my cold fingers!!!’ I was feeling desperate for a solution. Somehow I made it through — mittens and hand warmers (on the coldest of days) helped. Thank goodness… and I’m still riding.

Lincoln Ave.

What do people say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
Most people first ask me where I live that I commute by bike. Usually they’re more surprised when they find out I ride year-round and don’t plan to garage my bike for the winter.

Do you have an ‘advanced commuter tip’?
Stay alert. It’s not really an advanced tip, but it’s one that even I need
to remember. All it takes is a moment of daydreaming to get into a really bad situation — like running into a pothole or getting doored or carelessly crossing an intersection.

Lincoln Ave. southbound

Anything that you may want to add?
Bicycling has completely changed my life — for the better. I truly believe that the world just looks better from the saddle. To quote the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, “The more you bike, the better your world.”

Also, I advocate sharing the road. The Ride of Silence is a worldwide event that takes place in May to recognize fallen cyclists and the legal sharing of the road. Look for your local Ride of Silence or organize one in your community. Let the silence roar(


Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing your profile and insights and your excellent pictures of Chicago!

If you want to be profiled on, just send us an email!


  1. Moe

    Awesome Pictures! Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Dan

    Your photos and comments paint Chicago as an interesting place to ride. I’ve walked those streets before, but never biked there. I’ll have to try it sometime.

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  4. Stacy

    Nice pictures and comments! That’s a pretty cool profile ya got there! =0)

  5. Suzanne


    Thats great, I bike commute to NU everyday too! Best street to go East on: Superior!

    Happy Friday,

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  7. Elizabeth

    Lots of snow supposed to fall today….. Bike Winter, here we come!

  8. Elizabeth

    Looking at the following 2 bikes — your thoughts? Redline 925 (’08) versus the Bianchi San Jose (’06)? OR any good suggestions for a 3-speed internal shifter commuter?

  9. Ghost Rider

    Everyone here seems to like the 9-2-5…it gets great reviews.

    But, I’m partial to the San Jose…it’s a Bianchi, after all, and I’ve loved Bianchis since 1983 when I had the opportunity to visit the factory in Italy and buy a bike at their factory store. San Joses aren’t made in Italy, but still…

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  11. Steve Nordstrom

    Holla from a one librarian bike commuter to another! I work for Vanderbilt as a music librarian. Most of the other librarians think I’m crazy to ride 8 miles each way, but it seriously is the best part of my day. I too struggle with the fingers and toes problem. Too much of a cheapskate to get the really expensive gloves, though, so I’ll suck it up for a while. Nashville isn’t as cold as Chicago.

  12. Steve Nordstrom

    I’m salivating over both the 925 and the San Jose right now. If only librarians made more money!

  13. Elizabeth

    Steve, thanks for the feedback. I hear ya! My biggest investment is in winter mittens from REI; but on single digit days, even then my thumbs get numb. Plus, mittens are cumbersome. Worse yet, my rear brakes have been freezing up lately. My commute is typically just under 5 miles each way…. any farther and the numbness in my hands (thumbs) become nearly unbearable on cold days like today. 🙁

    I’m still waiting to see the new 925 model…. in the meantime I keep asking myself, “Do I really ‘need’ another bike?”

  14. Ghost Rider

    Library people FTW!!! YES!

    Steve, glad you came over for a visit — always nice to hear about other librarian/commuters. My co-workers all think I’m crazy, too, but at least I don’t get winded carrying stacks of books like they do ;).

    Elizabeth, remember that for bicycles, the proper ratio is “N+1”, where N is the number of bikes you currently own. So, in other words, everyone ‘needs’ another bike!

  15. Elizabeth

    Just as a reminder of how vulnerable we are on the roads — I had a nearly disastrous run in with a Chicago cab this morning on my commute in. He pulled right into the bike lane and cut me off — just to pick up a fare. Luckily it wasn’t too cold today and my brakes and body’s reflexes burst into action; I slowed enough to merely “bounce” off the corner of his rear bumper and continue on my way. Oh how amazed and happy I was at that point to still be on my bike unharmed! Yes, I should have stopped to report it; but at that instant, gratification for averting disaster overcame me.

    Ride safely out there — wherever your commute takes you.

  16. Elizabeth

    OK… fellow commuters>… a while ago I asked for your opinion regarding the ’06 Bianchi San Jose vs. the ’08 Redline 925. Now I’ll go one step further and ask if I should just get a rebuilt SS from an old Fuji step-through frame?

    What’s the best value and use of funds for my next Chicago commuter?

  17. Moe

    Go for the Redline 9-2-5, unless the Fuji frame is solid.

  18. Ghost Rider

    Fuji frames are generally good (at least the Japanese-made ones from the early 80s), but who’s actually doing the SS rebuild? What kind of parts are going on the Fuji? Does it come with a warranty and all the other good stuff a new Redline or Bianchi includes? All food for thought…

  19. Elizabeth

    The rebuild is by some mechanics who fix up bikes in their home. One of the guys tours all over the world and does this on the side. No warranty, though I think I could take it back to them if something should go wrong… Seems like a solid 80s frame. Not new, though — but not necessarily a bad thing for a winter bike getting salted and being parked outside, right?

  20. Ghost Rider

    In that case, it would depend on what parts they’re using to do the rebuild and whether you trust their knowledge and technical savvy to build up a decent ride.

  21. Dave

    I think I know that guy who tours around the world, a former messenger. He and his mechanic friend work in the coolest blue smocks! I bought a SS from those guys a year ago for my girl friend and she loves it. I had it checked out by a bike shop and they were impressed by the dishing and chain line and everything else on the bike. The price I paid for it was a steal. You’re lucky to have discovered those guys. They know and love bikes and aren’t in it for the money.

  22. Aaron

    Great to have one more badassed winter commuter out there. Based upon my experience touring and commuting in Chicago it is my opinion that an expensive new bicycle is not as important as your will to ride on cold wet days and your diligence in maintaining whatever bicycle you choose to ride. In the spirit of full disclosure I am friends with the two “guys in blue smocks” selling the Fuji single speed. As their friend of two years I can attest to both their mechanical expertise and dedication to the Chicago bike community. Buy the bike that best fits your budget and needs as a cyclist, but more importantly, just keep riding.

  23. Elizabeth

    I’m still riding — yesterday’s commute home was scary with the cyclonic wind gusts nearly blowing me over. Yikes! Plus the snowfall didn’t help. Hopefully I’ll be up on a new commuter soon — one that offers more clearance between the wheels and the fenders and will still keep me rollin’ the rest of the winter. 🙂

  24. Elizabeth

    HI… I went to AZ last week. While I’m bummed that I didn’t get a chance to ride during my visit, I definitely can’t wait to go back and get in some riding on those bicycle friendly roads. Both Tucson and Scottsdale had bike lanes along the major roads and I could just imagine myself biking around town. Now all I have to do is acquire a bike that I keep there and make my visits to AZ much more frequent.

  25. Dottie

    Hey, weird. I think I might have talked to Elizabeth on the ride home tonight. What are the chances?? Maybe it was another woman who looked like her with a scarf under her helmet and a screaming yellow jacket. Those pics look like my commute path, too, though. If Elizabeth sees this, any chance you were the woman I rode behind from the loop up Lincoln Ave and you complimented my heavy bike? 🙂

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