When I booked I had been worried about what the level of ability would be within the group, and that I might have been struggling to keep up, but this wasn't the case. I spin around 5 times a week, and cycle 25 miles once or twice a week, and I guess I was average or slightly above. The group was quite mixed, though most had a good degree of fitness. By no means was it easy going!!
The mornings consisted of mainly climbs, some of them long and steep (9 or 10k each stretch), which in 80 degree heat was tough, but every route we did was in really spectacular scenery, and the climbs were interspersed with long, flowing downhills. At times some of the off road cycling was narrow rocky terrain and quite technical, and though I coped (just about!) I'm not sure how I'd have managed had it been raining and wet/muddy. In total we cycled around 6 hours a day, and for those of us mad enough there was the option of an uphill 9k steep ascent back to the chalet. I did it once, and that was enough!! In fact most people did it once, just for the achievement!
The accommodation was very basic, and the bedrooms small, but clean. There was only one ensuite room that had a shower, which was allocated on a pot luck basis. Showering facilities were again very basic, with two small showers and two separate toilets serving eight guests on ground floor level, and you have to parade through the lounge to reach them, as the bedrooms are all on the first floor.
The food was freshly prepared and the evening meal was generally of a high standard, though no choice, and the staff had a policy of not informing you what the meal was to be that evening, despite several of us asking! The packed lunches were excellent! The chalet staff were friendly and helpful.
There is no public phone for use, and no mobile phone reception inside the chalet at all (on any network!), though if you were lucky you could get a weak signal sometimes from the far end of the car park about 20 yards away. On the opposite side of the road there is a river, and the bank leads down to a great natural plunge pool which we made good use of after the day's riding, jumping/diving into rock pools, a welcome respite after sitting in a saddle for six hours! Be prepared to do your own thing - totally - on the staff day off. There is no bus service, and the chalet is 9k from the town, making it a good hour or two downhill walk into town, which seemed even longer on the way back as it is uphill! Taxis cost about 20 euros though there aren't very many around in the evening.
Luchon is a pretty town, quite calm and laid back, uncrowded, with most of the life based around a central high street lined with quiet cafes and bars. There are a couple of hotels, a small supermarket, post office, some souvenir type shops etc, and I managed to find an internet cafe. All the cycle rides finished each day in the town, which meant you could do bits of shopping, or grab a very welcome beer after a hard day's cycling, or both if you were organised (!) and the guide drove us back up to the chalet about an hour later.
There is a big outdoor swimming pool in the town open to the public, with great views of the surrounding mountains, and some group members enjoyed their day off in being pampered at the thermal spa baths.The evening meal was at 7 to 7.30, with wine being provided with the meal. There is also an honesty bar, but there is nothing really to do in the evening, unless you go into town, and transport back is very limited. Having said that, our group got on really well so we mainly stayed chatting and drinking in the lounge area. Would I go again? Well the cycling was great, and the bikes we had were good. Each day the route was different, and Nathan our guide was a good judge of people's ability and matched the cycling well. It was certainly challenging, but every ride was enjoyable because the group were great guys and we stuck together. The scenery was simply awesome. I don't think I'd stay want to stay at La Feniere though, mainly because it is so remote and I am used to a few creature comforts! But if you have booked you will love the cycling, the guiding is great, you won't go hungry, and Luchon's a lovely place.
Have a great holiday. I did!