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Danny the Nanny hones his skills

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Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) on the front row

Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) on the front row (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/
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Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) chasing MacDonald

Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) chasing MacDonald (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/
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Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) with a lead on Zach MacDonald near the pits

Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) with a lead on Zach MacDonald near the pits (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/

This is my sixth time attending Geoff Proctor's Euro 'Cross Camp, and I think it is safe to say this has been the most challenging trip across the pond for us yet. First, the 10 days of missing bikes for Mitch, then the three to four days of camping out in London for our juniors, Jeff and Gunnar, and now this freakishly cold and snowy weather has definitely made for one of the most interesting and eventful camps I have ever seen.

My trip over was probably one of the most character-building experiences that I have had flying to Europe. It all began in Denver when my carry-on luggage containing all of my race and casual clothing for two weeks was taken to be put down below because of a lack of overhead space. I was assured that it would be handled with care and given back to me in Brussels. Ha!

My next flight however was looking great with an aisle seat in economy plus thanks to my Premier Executive status and a great movie selection for the next nine hours. I settled into my seat, feeling pretty content, when suddenly my heart sank. I looked up and saw a mother wielding three bags and a toddler banging through the aisle. She looked at me, and I then knew they were my seat mates for the next nine hours.

Long story short - within 20 minutes of this flight taking off, this monstrous baby was crying and squirming all over the place. He became such a handful that his mother let him down and he started to roam, first onto my lap and then into the aisle. To my amazement the mom then, magically, fell asleep! So, for the next six hours, I became Danny the Nanny, grabbing this kid as he would crawl underneath people's seats and try to run up and down the aisles, while his mother remained un-wake-able.

I did eventually get this kid to fall asleep, so for the next three hours and two whole movies, I sat there holding someone else's baby, whose name I didn't even know. This was until I got up to go to the bathroom. I put my new little friend down in my seat, and came back five minutes later to find the mother and child sprawled and passed out all over my seat.

By this time, the flight crew had figured out that this was not my baby and they were not even friends of mine. They were so amazed and shocked at this mother's behavior that they apologized profusely to me and then tried to wake up the sleeping pair. At this point, all hell broke loose and the sleeping mother broke in to a rage screaming at the flight attendants for waking up her baby.

Thankfully, we landed not long after this, and as I was exiting the plane the flight attendants handed me a card - it was a voucher for a free flight anywhere United flies. I could never get back the nine hours of lost sleep, but I did appreciate their gesture and it was some consolation for my awful trans-Atlantic crossing. By the way, the carry-on bag didn’t arrive for three more days.

Compared to some of the riders, my journey to Izegem was not that dramatic, even though it seemed so at the time. The moral of the story is that each and every one of us has a saga of what it took to get here, and if it weren't for Geoff Proctor's hard work and dedication making these camps happen every Christmas, none of us would have had the chance to learn something about the world and ourselves during the last few character-building days.

Let me just end by sharing what I always say to any new little friend who crawls up into my lap during a flight: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.