What to look out for during the Queen stage

Posted on 19 January 2019

Crowned the ‘Queen Stage’ for its 2850 m of climbing over 100 kms, it is going to be an exciting day of racing. Something different on this stage is the portage section that takes you from the top of Sir Lowry’s down into the Helderberg basin.

The portage section on stage 5 is scarred, difficult terrain, known as the old ox wagon trail. While none of us is hauling an ox wagon, we will be traversing the boulders with bikes along this challenging part of the route, which is approximately 750 m long. Expect the terrain to be rocky, with some steep slopes combined with tired legs after 4 days of epic riding.

During March, we usually experience hot and dry conditions in the Western Cape, and for the Queen stage, there is no tree cover along the wagon trails, so relief from temperatures is unlikely.

Here are some quick points to get you safely back on track following the ox wagon portage section:

  • Consider how you carry/hold your bike. Posture and technique during portage requires planning around factors such as the individuals body shape, weight, strength and conditioning. The weight of the bike also plays a role.
  • You are descending – so there may be some extra work for your quads and back with the boulders.
  • Consider that your cleats were not designed to climb down mountains. The boulders are quite big at stages and cannot be ridden down on a bicycle. Please take care when descending as you will have to do some lifting/carrying of your equipment in places. Do the necessary patch ups if you think blisters are a risk.
  • Much of this terrain is single track. Our advice is take the time to admire the breathtaking scenery, as you cannot overtake on the boulders. Be patient and show some of the camaraderie that made the Epic famous.
  • Socks and even seams of socks can cause havoc if not fitted correctly, so pay attention to the small details before the race – so the big details can be taken care of during the race.
  • Keep your breathing steady, and even though you are not on the bike remember to keep the hydration levels up.
  • Post-race; please monitor any blisters very carefully. Infection is a risk with the dust and sweat. We are here to get you through the last few days so make a turn at the race hospital if you need advice or a bit of medical TLC.

According to Dr Darren Green, Race Doctor for Absa Cape Epic, “Your feet are an important focus area on a stage such as this. Your feet may swell from venous blood pooling after long periods on your feet. The effect of temperature also causes swelling of the feet, while the skin is moist for long periods making them vulnerable. The skin acts as barrier protection and is part of our immune system – when its integrity is broken, it exposes us to the risk of secondary infections and complications. Remember that diabetics need to pay particular care when it comes to foot hygiene and care due to poor vascular supply and slow wound healing.”

“The bottom line on a portage stage such as this is to practice in your race gear and leave no surprises for race week,” Dr Green concludes.

Let’s make the Queen stage memorable for all. Have fun. Be patient. Be careful. Be proud – the Absa Cape Epic is something you will remember forever as a rider and finisher.


Published in Cape Epic

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.