IT23: 11+12 Feb 2023



Text on Icetrack 2023; what it is, where, and the costs involved. Let me know if interested, please!

Icetrack 2023 is now open for reservations. There are a few changes from last time. Skip to ***new stuff*** if you’re impatient.

What is Icetrack? Depending on how you look at it, it’s either an opportunity to drive on water, spend a small fortune to drive in circles all weekend, a weekend away in the frozen north, a chance to improve your driving skills, or all of the above.

I’ve been organizing this for a very long time (I think this is something like the 11th edition that will actually happen) and have a pretty good idea of how things can go down as a result. The short version of the timetable for the weekend is like this: leave Germany on the ferry at 0300 Thursday morning, having checked in at the harbour in Travemünde late Wednesday evening. Arrive Helsinki 0900 Friday. Drive up through Finland. Drive track Saturday and Sunday. Escape to further adventures or home Monday or Tuesday.

Accommodation for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (and Monday if so desired) is in a hotel near Tervo, in Savo. It’s been recently bought and is now called Koskisydän (“heart of the rapids” or so). EDITED because this has changed, see below

Track is over in Vesanto, a 20 minute drive away. The track is in Trackmeister’s back yard, just out of town.
We will be eating breakfast at the hotel and then lunches and coffee break goodies will be delivered to us. I’m working on the precise details for Saturday evening, but the hotel now buys its food services in from the local cafe. My wife and daughter have sampled their offerings a couple of times and it has been good. I will supply food package prices (so lunch x 2, coffee break x4 and dinner Saturday) as I have it. I will also get a quote for a Sunday evening meal.

What’s changed?

***new stuff***

Trackmeister has had some environmental requirements placed upon him. These are really quite strict and I would absolutely not be surprised if the enforcement agency paid us a visit. In short:
  • track must be >80m from an edge of the lake
  • Track can only be used 20 days per season
  • Track can only have 8 cars at a time
  • Track must be less than 1km in length
There’s more, but you get the idea. Those of you who have spoken to Trackmeister will understand that these requirements are hard for him, which is another reason why we need to be absolutely spotless in terms of logging what we’re doing and how, so he can comply scrupulously with the requirements. Some ideas of how this can be done already exist and I’ll check them with both him and the environmental board to ensure they are happy. The restrictions only apply to the lake tracks so we will be building tracks on land to compensate.

I am suggesting a new route northbound. There are a couple of nice alternatives for those who want to drive something more challenging, I will document this. In essence, we will drive via the 5 and Mikkeli – the roadworks on the 4 north of Hartola are a complete nightmare at the moment – and then take the 72 to Pieksämäki, doubling back for the few kms to Tiinan Tupa. Our lunch stop will be Ramin Konditoria, where the 5 and 72 meet. It’s my go-to in the morning on the way to the office and the gluten-free selection is excellent, with cakes to die for. Lahti and Karisma are still on this route, but I don’t live in Lahti any more so I’m not 100% sure where I’ll be joining the group.

The challenging alternative then goes via Juva and Virtasalmi; there’s a super-challenging gravel road option, too; take the 5 a little further north and then turn left. There’s not many options!

I’ve driven Kuopio-Helsinki-Kuopio 40+ times over the last year, this is my current preference. Some detail: there’s roadworks on the 5 between Juva and Leppävirta that should be done in November, so the 72 is faster anyway; the 4 is just a mess between Hartola and Joutsa and the resurfacing currently ongoing on the 9 between Jyväskylä and Suonenjoki is almost complete. The current rock-breaking on the 4 between Helsinki and Lahti should also be complete soon. Joutsa – Kangasniemi – Pieksämäki just makes no sense in terms of good food, unfortunately. The limits have also been retained at 80, so it’s overall slower. 5 has generally also been good in terms of snow shifting, the 9 has been poor on occasion.
EDITED because this changed

*** end new stuff ***

Pricing for this time out has also changed.

Hotel: We are being offered only standard rates: €75/person/night in a twin room. All room styles are included in this. No specific booking procedure. I do not yet know which sauna we will have available to us. Breakfast is €15/person/night. - see below for new info

Food: An offer should already be with me but is not. I expect around €75-80 for this, including a three-course buffet on Saturday evening. I will confirm as soon as I know, along with the payment formalities. Food prices are up significantly here.

Track: I will consult with Trackmeister on this, but his direct costs are >30% on last time; diesel is currently €2.10+. Therefore: track price will rise to €250. The more I invest, the more track(s) I will get. Discussions are ongoing, I will go to meet Trackmeister next time I am at the summer house and I promised to call him back next weekend with information on how big the group is.

What to do?

What do I need right now? Firm indications of interest at these prices and the dates of 11+12 Feb 2023. This will help me set a budget with Trackmeister and then we can work out how that translates into track space.

More details will follow on what I need you to do when entering or leaving the lake track – it’s essentially probably going to be picking up and replacing a physical object and taking a selfie that you submit to a Signal channel so I can log who and when. Some effort required, sorry. I’ll put up some prizes for the best selfies :) This only applies to the lake track, the land ones do not need this.
Last edited:
.. and "track" will probably mean actually the option for quite a few safety things, not just blatting around. This will be a different IT due to the new limitations.

. Bret
Trackmeister confirmed he's good with the budget I've given. One land and one lake track will be created. Food package also got confirmed at 100€, with Friday evening available for €20 and Sunday evening also at €20.
In other words, we're go.

@BearMcPear are you around on Tuesday? I will be in Tampere for the Alihankintamessu and will be going for an early dinner with a couple of attendees and my daughter.. if you're around and have time relatively early (I need to drive back to Kuopio the same evening, so I would like to be gone before 1900), you're welcome to join us.

I've had some questions, so I'll outline where we are right now with regard to timings, hotels, and other costs for IT 23.

- Hotelli Pihkuri, Viitasaari. Street Address: Kappelintie 5, 44500 Viitasaari
- 1 person room: 70€/night.
- 2 person room: 90€/night.
- 3 person room: 105€/night.
Breakfast is included. Arrival Friday 10th February 2023.

Food package:
- I'm offering a food package at €70. This will cover the lunch and coffee breaks morning and afternoon on Saturday and Sunday at the track, and dinner in the hotel Saturday.
There are various other options in town. The hotel is a five minute drive away from the main E75/4 road.

Booking process is still under work, but is likely to be via email.

- as previously, just outside Vesanto. Travel time from Pihkuri to the track was around 40 minutes in the autumn. There is an ice road from Mustaniemi towards Kymönkoski that will shave a good 15 minutes off our normal travel time, so I'm assuming 45-50 minutes, depending. More on that specifically below.

Track time from 0900 to 1700, Saturday and Sunday. We'll break for lunch at some point and hold coffee breaks, also so the track can be ploughed / roughed and directions switched.

Currently I am holding this at €250 per car. We're building two tracks, one of which is on land. Snow is only just starting to come down in appreciable quantities, though temperatures have been low for multiple weeks now and will persist below zero for a while.

Totals, therefore:
- 1 person, 1 room, 1 car, 3 nights (Fri - Sat - Sun), food package
70€ / room / night, €250 track, €70 food --> 210+250+70=530
- 2 people sharing 1 room, 1 car, 2 nights, food package
90€ / room / night, €250 track, €140 food --> 570
- 2 people sharing 1 room, 1 car, 3 nights, food package
90€ / room / night, €250 track, €140 food --> 660
- 3 people sharing 1 room, 1 car, 3 nights, food package
105€ / room / night, €250 track, €210 food --> 775

I don't think I can make it much cheaper than this.

Other timings:
- you'll need to be in Lübeck / Travemünde (address: Skandinavienkai or Travemünder Landstraße, 23570 Lübeck, Germany) before 2330 Wednesday, 8th Feb. Ferry leaves at 0300 Thursday 9th and arrives at early morning, Friday 10th.
Group will meet somewhere in Lübeck from 2200 Wednesday.
To get to Travemünde, it's a six hour trip from Rotterdam or Hoek van Holland, or nine from Calais.

Finnlines ferry will arrive in Helsinki Friday morning. Lunch will be arranged for a stop just south of Jyväskylä, a change from previous years. I'll be reserving a table and warning them that you're coming, this is at your cost. Menu here:
After lunch, continue up the E75/4, probably arriving around 1600 or so, depending on how long you dawdle over lunch and coffees. I will possibly join later in the trip: I'm now living up north so may not be around for the whole thing. I haven't decided this yet.

For those flying in:
- Car rental at Helsinki is mostly painless. You will have Ring 3 to deal with, which is the heaviest traffic Finland has to offer. The entirety of Terminal 2 has been rebuilt over the last couple of years.
- If you're flying in to Kuopio, you have the following connections at Helsinki: 0710, 1300, 1610 and 2350. The last one will normally wait for slightly late arriving aircraft. Note that Non-Schengen is a long walk away, but 45 minutes is doable. Stick with Finnair tickets for the whole trip and you should be fine, they will generally wait for you.
At Kuopio, if you're not renting, please let me know and we'll set something up to get you picked up. It's a 15 minute drive for me from home, so around 1h30 from Viitasaari, especially at that time.
Returning is almost as simple. 0555 from Kuopio gets in to Helsinki at 0700. You then get to catch pretty much all of the international stuff. You don't need to be at Kuopio too early (I would recommend at 0500 or so), as it has a grand total of 2 gates....

Return is the opposite of going up, but I don't know what your plans are. Quick and simple suggestions: if you're going up north, just use the E75/4. It's 3 hours to Oulu and another 90 minutes to Rovaniemi for the Arctic Circle, reindeer and Santa. There is an overnight car train from Rovaniemi to Pasila, which is next to Helsinki.
Finland is big and empty; keep an eye on the fuel gauge. But speeds are low, so consumption numbers are generally good except for the fact it's generally cold...
Check out the weather forecasts before you attempt to do stuff. If the road conditions are said to be red, I would seriously consider moving things around, especially if your timetable requires you to be somewhere at a specific time. Traffic is not your enemy, weather might be.

Ice Road:
- if we do get to drive the ice road, the following is a summary of the rules that absolutely *must* be obeyed:
- 50km/h limit
- car spacing is 50m, no less
- only drive on the prepared ice
- no stopping
- no overtaking

The ice road should save us around 15km, which means a good few minutes. I'll be going over a while before track to check out exactly where it starts and ends. The attached pic should give you a good idea of why the ice road exists :)

I'll provide a road book shortly which has more detail. If you have questions or need me to help with something (like booking the car train back from Rovaniemi to Helsinki), let me know and I'll do what I can to help.




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booking procedure is now clear.

Subject /Aihe /Betreff: Jäärata 2023


Ankunft / Arrival / Saapumispäivä: xx-02-2023
Abfahrt / Departure / Lähtöpäiva: xx-02-2023

Nächte / Nights / Yötä:

Personen im Zimmer / Number of people in Room / Hklö per Huone: 1/2/3

Kontaktinformation / Contact info / yhteydenotto:

Name / Name / Nimi:
Addresse / Address / Osoite:
PLZ - Stadt / Postcode - Town / Postinumero - Kaupunki:
Telefon / Phone / Puhelinnumero:

Allergien oder besondere Diäten / Allergies or special diets / erikoisruokavaliot:


Please send to [email protected] filled with your details. Please tell Bret either via separate email or signal that you've booked. If you're not in the signal group yet and want to be, the link is the attached QR code.


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More updates:
I spoke with Trackmeister earlier. The ice situation on the lake is not so good: there is only 8cm of ice and currently >30cm snow. This stops thicker ice from forming and the forecast +1 will only encourage water on top of the ice.
If there's a decent cold spell (i.e. >-15C) then there's a chance that the wet snow + ice mix will freeze again, otherwise it's not looking good for the lake.
He is building one track on the land anyway, it might be that we don't get the lake track and instead we get more land track.
This also means it's possible that there's no ice road at Viitasaari, but let's see as the conditions may be different there.
.. and there's now a deadline. Please let me know if you want to attend before 24th Jan. I need to inform some providers of numbers shortly after that point.