Tips on how to dress for the Saimaa Cycle Tour

Vinkkejä kuinka pukeutua Saimaa Cycle Tourille

The clothing you are wearing at the start line could make the difference between an unsuccessful and successful tour. That is why it’s important to get your clothing choices right. The right clothing is going to depend a lot on the weather conditions during the event.

It is perhaps clever then to bring clothing for all possible weather conditions to Imatra, then you can check the weather forecast and choose which clothing you need at the start line. Ideally, you want to have with you only what is absolutely necessary. It’s not going to make the long round any easier for you carrying clothing you won’t wear.

Tip: Dress for where you are going and not for the weather at the start! When the round is long and you will be out on the road for a considerable number of hours the weather conditions can change several times within the ride. Riding at night can be chilly and early mornings can be surprisingly cold. Your clothing has to be adaptable.

Learning what clothing works best for you in different conditions is figured out during your training sessions. Testing your clothing in training will help you understand what works for you in terms of comfort, weather conditions and temperatures

Here are my tips for what to pack from head to toe:

Helmet - The most important safety item that you need to have with you is your helmet. It should be comfortable and in good condition so that your head is protected in the event of an accident.

Sunglasses - It’s best to look at sunglasses as eye protection. And even though we’re riding through the night a pair of sunglasses are going to protect your eyes from dangerous UV radiation, wind, insects or road water coming off other rider’s wheels. Cycling specific sunglasses typically come with different types of lenses that can be used in the same frames depending on the weather and light conditions.

Cap, Head Cover or Buff - You may want to consider wearing a cap or a head cover that fits under your helmet. If your helmet has a lot of open air vents and the weather is windy or a bit chilly, it can be more comfortable to wear a cap. Buffs are another great solution because they are light and versatile. A buff can be worn as a scarf or used to cover your entire head and ears.

Base Layer - A short sleeve or sleeveless base layer is very important as it helps to regulate your body temperature. These garments are made from fast drying materials that pull moisture away from your skin keeping you warm. They may also be vented so if the weather gets hot you can zip down your cycling shirt a bit and let some air in.

Cycling Jersey - A cycling specific jersey is going to be superior to other sports tops because they’re light, form fitted and have three easy to get to pockets in the back where you can store food or other items like your phone.

Windvest or Wind jacket - Another useful garment that is worth its weight in gold. It’s made out of a wind blocking material in the front and is vented material in the back to let heat out. It fits tight over your torso to protect you from the cold wind and keep you warm.

Arm, Legs, and Knee Warmers - In my opinion a pair of arm warmers and either knee or full leg warmers will be absolutely necessary for keeping you warm through the night and early morning. The advantage of choosing these over full length tights is the adaptability they provide. When the air starts to warm it’s easy to take them off and stuff them in your pocket.

Gloves - A pair of short fingered padded cycling gloves should be worn first and
foremost for safety, but they will also offer some comfort which helps on a long tour. You may also want to consider bringing a pair of warm long fingered gloves that you can wear when it gets cold. It may only be cold for an hour or so but that is enough time for your fingers to get really uncomfortable.

Bib Shorts - The most important piece of clothing is your padded bicycle shorts with braces. The pad or chamois is designed to be worn next to your skin, so leave the underwear at home. Chamois come in different sizes and thicknesses, for long cycle tours you want to select a pad that is designed more for comfort than performance. The braces on the shorts are important for keeping the shorts in place and making sure the pad doesn’t slip causing skin issues.

Socks - Try to avoid wearing cotton socks, instead you could choose a sock made from a technical material that will dry quickly and allow your foot to breathe. For safety it’s always a good idea to use a sock that goes higher than your ankle for cycling.

Toe and Shoe Covers - Proper summer cycling shoes are designed to keep your feet cool. They’re vented to let the air pass over your feet inside the shoe. Toe covers fit neatly over the toe box of your shoes and stop cold air from rushing into your shoe keeping your feet warm. For wet weather you need to go even further and wear a full shoe cover that offers more protection from the elements and waterproofing.

Cycling Shoes - Using a pair of shoes that are designed specifically for cycling will make traveling the long tour much more comfortable. Cycling shoes are made to be used together with a pedal system that keeps your foot stuck to the pedal. They also have really ridged soles that don’t flex when you push down on the pedals. Safe to say that once you start using this kind of system you will never switch back. Lastly you want to make sure your shoes are comfortable, you have a bit of space in your shoes and that the cleats in the bottom are in good condition.

Rain Jacket - In the event of heavy rain, it’s best to just wear the best rain jacket you can afford. Cycling specific rain jackets typically have taped seams to keep the rain out and an extra piece of waterproof material that hangs from the back and can be used to keep your butt dry.

Keep Training!

The Training Plan


Monday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or do something easy 20-60 min walk

Tuesday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise.

Wednesday - Hard day

  • 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min

Thursday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise.

Friday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Saturday - Long day

  • 180-240 min continuous moderate exercise

Sunday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training.
  • Session 2: 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min


Monday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Tuesday - Hard day

  • 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min

Wednesday - Easy day

  • 90-120 min continuous moderate exercise.

Thursday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Friday - Easy day

  • 60-90 min continuous easy exercise.

Saturday - Long day

  • 180-240 min continuous moderate exercise with self selected cadence

Sunday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training.
  • Session 2: 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min

The Training Sessions

Easy (marked with green color)

During these easy sessions try to maintain an average cadence of 90-110 rpm throughout the session. If a session is 2+ hours in duration, add between 4-6 max cadence sprints that last between 10-30 seconds during the last hour.

These rides should be calm, they should feel easy (2-3 out of 10 RPE), breathing should be comfortable and you should be able to speak in full sentences. 60-70% of HR max which is probably right in the middle of your zone 2 power.

Long (marked with green color)

During these long sessions you can keep a self selected cadence. It’s important to start a bit easier because as you extend the duration past a certain point fatigue will start to set in and heart rate and perceived exertion (RPE) will gradually rise. With long rides you’re looking to reach that point where the easy ride starts to feel somewhat hard. (1-3 out of 10 RPE) or heart rate zones 1-2. I don’t recommend using power for this type of training.

Hard - Interval Training (marked with orange color)

Now we are in the transition phase where the goal is to improve your performance at the threshold. I have given you two different options, select the session that interests you the most.

The first session starts with a 20-30 minute warm up followed by 3-4 x 8 min with 2-8 min rest between efforts. Try to start the next pull as soon as you have the feeling that you are able to endure another one. Warm down 20-30 minutes.

The second option starts with a 20 min warm up and is followed by 3 x 16 min with 10 min rest between pulls. Keep a high cadence (95-110 rpm) Warm down 20-30 minutes.

The way I like to prescribe these efforts is to keep the highest average intensity you can maintain for the entire session. I would estimate this to be around 80-90% of HRmax or an effort that feels like 7 out of 10. This kind of effort will bring on heavy breathing, only able to respond in short responses but after the effort you should feel okay and that you could make another one. So these are not maximum efforts. This ride could also be replaced with a group ride.

Hard Days - Strength Training (marked with orange color)

Core and body conditioning will make you a more robust rider and strength training has been used to increase both short and long duration endurance capacity. If you’re new to strength training give this session a try or use a routine that you're familiar with and enjoy doing.

Warm Up - Dynamic Stretching 6 exercises 1 set 8 reps

1. Prisoner Stand Ups
2. Down Dog with Toe Touch
3. Cat-Camels
4. Kneeling thoracic rotations
5. Down Dog to Runner's Lunge
6. Glute Raises-Fire Hydrants

Block A – Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 sets 6-10 reps (each side)

1. DB Romanian Deadlift
2. Sumo Squat
3. Calf Raises

Block B – Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side)

1. Glute Bridge Floor Press
2. DB Good mornings
3. Lat pull with band or DB

Block C – Core Training 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side)

1. Front Plank
2. Copenhagans
3. Superman core

All the movements for this strength training session can be found here: