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The mid-evening darkness muck wallow that almost was

It's been a while since something like this happened.. I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to go out for a quick bit of muddy/mucky fun, in the early evening darkness. The weather was much milder then and was looking good for going out and not getting frozen. Unfortunately, my usual quick options were a bit limited. The tide was going to be up, so the marshes were out. There were no isolated field muck heaps that I had seen in the local area - except for one, but it was right next to a farm track, which was also open to the nearby road. But this needed to be a quick and easy trip out and back home, so the nearby muck heap seemed like the place to go. I knew the track was used by the farmer and estate workers, but they would have probably done their drive-throughs by dusk. Likewise for the dog walkers who also used it. I guess I was a bit desperate to do something, anything, as this year has been really poor for going out. And it being properly dark for a couple of hours by 8pm should mean that the track would be quiet..?

It turned out to be a clear, moonlit, but not particularly cold evening and after a short cycle ride down the road, I was at the entrance to the farm track. The muck heap was a couple of hundred yards down the gravel track, it was not piled much more than five feet high, but was in fact bigger than what I had seen from the road. I stashed my bike in a hedgerow, a little way further down the track. If I had to leave in a hurry, it was in a direction that I could take to get back to the road home. There were a few vehicles using the road, but none illuminated down the track to where I was. I started to explore the heap and while it had sat in the field for a few weeks, some of the hollows were still soft and looked promising for a bit of a quick mucky wallow.

After a bit more of a squelch around, I decided on a nice secluded spot in the heap. I was just about to get down and mucky, when in my peripheral vision, I noticed a brief sweep of light illuminating my surroundings. What was that? I peered over the top of the hollow I was in, straining to see if a vehicle had stopped, or was turning round at the top of the track. I could not make out anything in the darkness. Still trying to work out what had happened, I heard the feint sound of gravel crunching under tyres. Eh? Oh fuck - someone's coming down the track without lights! I scurried off the heap, putting it between me and the track, staying low and trying to think what was best to do. Who was it, was it the farmer doing his rounds - a bit late for that? Was it someone sneaking down the track, looking for somewhere secluded to park up?? Away from the track, the field was vast and was bare harrowed earth, offering no cover. To cross the track and get through the hedge, towards my bike, would now be right in front of the approaching vehicle and I was bound to be seen moving in the moonlight.

All too late! The tyre crunching was right on me, I just had to stay low and hope they'd pass me by unseen. I took a careful peep over the top edge of the heap and just made out the outline of what looked like the top of a pickup cab moving very slowly. They were now just the other side of the heap from me. Were they going to stop, or crunch on down the track? I made a scurrying crawl round the heap to get behind the truck. If they did stop and light up the heap, I'd be in a much better place to dash behind them hopefully unseen and through the hedge. Now hiding behind the top end of the heap, I watched the silhouetted outline of the truck slowly carrying on down the track. As the truck got down to the gap in the hedge where I'd nearby stashed my bike, the lights came on. I could not be sure if they'd actually stopped, but it looked like it. Had they spotted my bike? Regardless, this was now the time to make a move! I dashed across the track and scrambled through the hedge to the field on the other side. I still had a little way down towards the truck to get to my bike, but I least had the cover of the hedge. This was now a better situation.

Walking carefully forward, I could just make out that the truck was moving on past the gap and again, the lights went out. Time to get my bike and go, I think. On a different night, I may have decided to stand back under cover and wait for the truck to leave, but here I was short on time. I got the bike out of the hedge and ran with it back to the track. I would be more exposed riding back up to the road, but it would be far quicker than the slog across the open fields. Looking down towards the truck, I could see it now was a fair way along the track with lights going on and off. I had to go now, just in case they decided to turn round and come back. I jumped on the bike and pedalled like it was a sprint finish in a bike race. The gravel track was strewn with water-filled potholes, but I just swerved round them, hoping not to crash. Glancing over my shoulder, I could make out the truck's lights were on again. As I neared the road, I sensed that I was being faintly lit up, so I pedalled even harder. I hit the wide gravel entrance to the track way too fast to stop and skidded across the road, almost hitting the verge on the other side. For fuck's sake - not only nearly getting busted, now trying to get myself runover! I put on the bike lights and pushed hard for a few hundred yards, to put some distance between me and the track, just in case the truck followed me on to the road.

Running out of steam, I slowed to a more sustainable pace. The truck did not come past. I don't know if they saw me at the top of track, or if they did, they didn't care? I guess I'll never know. On the ride home, I considered what a balls-up this outing had been. I was really annoyed with myself; I really did know better than to think 8pm would be as deserted as midnight and that places with easy access would be quiet. Just plain stupid, I've been in this situation a couple of before and should have remembered it. I suppose the upside was the clean-up would be quick and easy, just my old trainers and junk jeans to bin and a quick wash. But it was just as well I got home early, as my opportunity to out was shorter than I'd expected...

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