Antti's tips for cyclists on the Saimaa Cycle Route, part 1

Antin vinkit Saimaa Cycle Tourin kiertäjille, osa 1

My name is Antti Kuitto, a 43-year-old cyclist from Lappeenranta, Finland. The route of the Saimaa Cycle Tour takes you through the most beautiful part of Finland, along roads that are very familiar to me, and to give you the best feeling of the race, I will share with you some tips that I have tried and tested over the years in three parts. In this first part, I'll give you some sample routes for all the rides. 

But first, a few words about my own cycling background. I've been actively racing for over 25 years, and I've done downhill races in France, uphill races in the Alps, local roads, off-road terrain and I'm particularly fond of cyclocross in the autumn, where I won the Finnish championship in 2019. So my cycling background is quite varied and I really enjoy the different experiences that cycling brings, which are best shared with friends.

The Saimaa Cycle Tour is now less than three months away and many of you will be wondering what training you should do now to make your cycling as enjoyable as possible at the event itself. Whatever your cycling background - I encourage you to honestly consider the challenges of your chosen route (38, 85, 300 km) in relation to your own level as a cyclist and in particular your own weaknesses as well as strengths. Whatever your background, here are some general training sessions to do 1-3 times a week alongside your other training.

38km: If you're a beginner and have been doing mainly shorter rides, try to do a longer 30-40km ride twice a week at a pace where you can talk comfortably while riding - note that this often means riding very slowly. In addition to these rides, a shorter brisk run once a week, even if it's on slightly hilly terrain, will add a little extra pace to the day. You should also try to do at least one of these sessions as a group. 

85 km: Jaakko's loop is more physically demanding than the basic route because of the change in elevation. In group rides, the stress on the climbs often increases significantly and it is important to get through the climbs in your own group and to enjoy the speed of the group on the downhills. To achieve this, you should run 1-2 times a week in hilly terrain with very different levels of exertion, e.g. hard uphill, then hard for a while on the hill and then when the downhill comes you can slow down considerably and recover for a while, depending on your own background, the duration of the training should be 1-2 hours. In addition to hill training, I recommend 1-2 hours of low impact, steady base endurance training 1-2 times a week. 

300km: The length of the race is such that no one should do a long training run before the event. However, instead of overly long runs, it is advisable to have a long training session of 4-6 hours once or twice a week, preferably on a varied route, with as much elevation gain as possible, and adapted to the event. This long run is also a good way to learn about nutrition and to test which snacks you like best and whether you crave salty snacks with your sweet snacks, for example. In addition, 1-2 times a week a harder training session, e.g. in a group, where you take turns and sometimes have to work out of your comfort zone, preferably for 1-2 hours - if you do these sessions on your own, a good training session is e.g. 2 x 20 minutes of hard running, with a good warm-up and cool-down. Depending on your cycling background, you may want to focus more on longer or shorter hard workouts - but for the vast majority, focusing on hard workouts will be more beneficial if you have a basic endurance background. If you are doing high intensity workouts, remember to pay particular attention to the amount of rest you get!

We wish you all the best with your training and we'll be back with more tips in May!

Best regards