Having a Basingstoke office makes plenty of sense for architect Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt (ACG): there is lots of space in which to accommodate a growing staff - and a fast-expanding display of models - at a fraction of the price of the space the company holds in London.
But if Basingstoke is the firm's showroom, how can it lure London-based clients to visit? A corporate cycle ride, of course...
On Friday 12 October, ACG hosted clients and friends on a ride from Richmond Park to its Basingstoke HQ. The 100km route angled south through Surrey taking in Esher and Cobham, pausing at the Queen's Head, East Clandon, for possibly the finest chocolate brownies ever made. Refuelled, the peloton took on the climbs of Staple Lane and Winterfold, before switching to a fantastic disused railway line around Wonersh and rolling west to Farnham for a pub lunch at the very welcoming Mulberry. Loins girded, we took on the climb of the day, Castle Hill, and rode pretty country roads through Odiham (pronounced odium, which is bad luck) and Old Basing to Basingstoke.
The ride was co-hosted with building services engineer Milieu Consult. "Matthew [ACG director Matthew Chamberlain] and I met on the BCO Cycle Challenge in May," said Milieu managing director Carl Carrington. "Like Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt, we also have offices in London and Hampshire so we were keen to co-host a ride."
At ACG's office the bravest of both companies' non-cycling staff mixed with the riders as we enjoyed beer and a buffet before hitching a lift in the mechanic's van back to Richmond - a surprisingly short journey at 6pm on a Friday evening, which neatly highlighted the HQ's convenience.
The peloton of 17 comprised medium to strong riders across a wide range of ages, with three women in the group. "We had a good female turnout for the event which is really positive," said ACG associate and strong rider Emily Pallot.
We averaged about 21km/h, including the long section of former railway which was, perhaps because it was the only part of the journey that was inaccessible to the mechanic's van, where we suffered a puncture. Of course. There were two more on the otherwise trouble-free trip.
"The event was a great opportunity to enjoy a challenging ride with clients and collaborators, and show off our studio in Hampshire," said ride leader Chamberlain.