The Terror of the Trouser Cuff
In my cycling history to date, I have snagged my trouser cuffs on pedals and crank arms, and I have wrapped them around cotter pins. I have gotten them jammed in front derailleurs and I have torn them on the teeth of chainrings. Whilst riding my Brompton, I have caught them on those little wheels positioned behind the chain stays. As improbable as it might seem, I have even had them sucked into bottom brackets. And lest you be thinking, dear reader, "Has this girl never heard of a chaincase?" allow me to remind you that at the start all my transport bicycles had those. But do not underestimate my abilities: On more then one occasion, I have caught my trouser cuffs on the chaincase itself as well, fully enclosed and otherwise.
On the part of the two-legged garment, it's behaviour that is nothing short of subversive, and it is one reason I prefer to stick to skirts when pedaling. When I do wear trousers, the only thing I've come to trust to keep the cuffs out of harm's way is a pair of hardy tall socks. This has caused some amusement among my peers, as, apparently tucking trouser cuffs into socks looks "ugly" and "geeky" and creates the appearance of "lumpy cankles." I have tried traditional cycling clips of both the metal and the velcro-wrap variety, but my trousers possess an impressive ability to slip out of them by gradually riding up until a corner of the hem escapes, eventually unraveling altogether. I have also tried a couple of fancier retention accessories that, I was told, might perform a bit better.
Among these are the Brooks trouser straps. These were recommended to me, with the suggestion they worked better than ordinary straps at keeping suiting fabric from slipping upwards. From the look of them I expected these to basically be a pair of leather snap bracelets. But in fact they wrap around the ankles gently by virtue of a soft strip of "memory steel" encased within. The underside of the straps is lined with a textured suedey fabric that - combined with the weight, width and stiffness of the straps - does do a decent job at keeping cuffs from slipping up and out. On the other hand (ankle?), the bend of the steel strip can feel uncomfortable against my shins at times, requiring adjustment mid-journey.
I have also used the Boston-made Exposed Seam. Adorned with a rear reflective strip (which, incidentally, is more useful in Ireland/UK due to the left-handed traffic), this rather vast cuff covers a good part of the ankle and shin and secures tightly with velcro. Perhaps because it is essentially a "cycling spat," I happen to think this item looks kind of sexy. To my chagrin, however, the male friends I've asked for confirmation of this impression do not seem to agree! Nevertheless, by its sheer volume of coverage the Exposed Seam does manage to wrangle my trouser cuffs into submission - when I remember to bring it with me, that is.
Perhaps it is my aversion to extra fuss and accessories that explains why, when it comes right down to it, I tend to default to the trusty sock-tuck method. Is it ugly and geeky? Maybe so. But then, I suspect, even the fancier ankle straps are perceived that way by the general population!
Perhaps some day I might be granted that uncanny state of grace of the women on the Côte d'Azur - forever photographed cycling in obscenely wide, gauzy, white linen trousers billowing in the breeze, yet existing, it seems, in a parallel universe from their bicycles' moving parts, where never the twain shall meet... Until then, I shall continue to strike back at the terror of the trouser cuff with the formidable sock-tuck. Lumpy cankles and all.