Topographical Maps

While most rallying uses ordinary road maps (which show all of the roads and towns in a given area), topographical maps - which show land elevations, rivers, creeks and significant landmarks as well as all the roads, villages and hamlets - are also occasionally used. Whenever you are working on a section which uses a topographical map, it is strongly recommended that you first transfer the Start Of Section and End Of Section over from your EOS road map. This ensures that you will at least get started in the right direction, on the right road.

Topo maps are used by Rally Masters in many ways - here are three of the most common:

Co-ordinates - On a regular road map there are co-ordinates along the sides and across the top which help you locate specific places. On a topographical map, the co-ordinates are shown as two digit numbers. These may not be on edges, but might run somewhere through the body of the map. The space between two co-ordinates (say 45 & 46) is assumed to be divided into ten equal strips so that you can locate places more precisely (454 is 40% of the way between 45 & 46). The Rally Master willgive you the co-ordinates as six digit numbers (454687) with the first the first three being the latitude (up-and-down) and the second three being the longitude (side-to-side). In this example, 454 will locate your north-south position and 687 will provide the east-west information to identify a specific location. The Rally Master will give you a series of co-ordinates to plot on the map. You may be told to visit them in a specific order. Alternatively, you may be told to go from A to B without massing through the specified locations.

Landmarks - As noted, topo maps show landmarks such as schools, churches, cemetaries, pipelines, silos, hores racing tracks, bridges, waterways and altitude markings - as well as roads. You may be asked to plot a route which will take you past elevation 235 and then a silo, a race track and a junckyard. There are no simple solutions here; you simply scour the map until you find these landmarks and plot your route accordingly. I highlight the landmarks as I find them. Be aware that there are usually multiple choices; silos, bridges, churches & cemetaries show up all over the place! You need to find the one route that matches the instructions precisely. Bridges are one of the toughest things to see because the elevation often changes arund a waterway, resulting on a lot of fine lines on the map. A magnefier helps. I also do a physical check to verify that we are crossing the correct number of bridges as we travel along the route.

Shortest Distance to EOS - Using co-ordinates, landmarks, towns - or whatever - the Rally Master may ask you to plot the shortest route to the End Of Section. Sounds easy, but in reality it seldom is! If two or more options seem to be the same distance look very carefully for kinks in a road which might add distance, or triangles which cut a corner. There should be only one correct route, so pay great attention to the details. The Rally Master will often reward the diligent navigators by putting a checkpoint on the one road segment that made the difference!

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Last Updated: 2001-04-25
Copyright © 2001 Gail L. Walker, reproduction forbidden without written authorization.