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Book Review: Piers of the West Coast Travelled on Two Wheels: Part 1

By PJ Hyland

Author: Gary Koz Mraz
$24.95, available at Amazon.com
Photos by Ron Sinoy and Gary Mraz
Cpyright 2013, Fire and a Prayer Press.

When I interviewed my friend and colleague Gary “Koz” Mraz about his charming pictorial Piers of the West Coast Travelled on Two Wheels: Part 1, which includes spot-on commentary about each pier featured in the book, he offered the following thoughts: “I’ve lived in California most of my life and thought I’d seen all the points of interest along our picturesque coast. Who knew there was a pier with cottages for rent, over the ocean, and another one with the remnants of a concrete battleship at its end? And who would have guessed that Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego County is the world’s longest concrete pier? One more thing: over the course of my quest I’m determined to discover how many piers I can actually ride a motorcycle onto.”

The idea of visiting all 113 piers on the West Coast of the United States is a daunting task, to say the least. The journey from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada, hard by the coast, requires a considerable amount of itinerary planning and no small amount of time management, in and of itself. As of this writing, Koz is about one-third of the way through the process. Part 1 completes the stretch from Imperial Beach at the southernmost part of San Diego County to the Santa Cruz Pier, a total of 35 piers.

Looking through the lens of a two-wheel motojournalist, Mr. Mraz distills the pertinent info regarding each pier down to its essentials: ease of access, motorcycle parking, attractions, amenities and restaurants. A small sidebar in each story provides info about hours of operation, directions, food and accommodations, and also includes a QR code. (You know, one of those odd-looking digital blocks you can scan with your smartphone.) This feature turns out to be a brilliant idea because events may change at any time at a given pier, and a quick scan tells you what’s happening there right now.

I moved to SoCal in 1986 and, over the course of my extended sojourn in the Golden State, I’ve visited several of the piers for one reason or another. But whether I happened to be near a pier on a surfin’ safari or on one enjoying the view and/or the restaurant located at its end or its beginning (I don’t usually take advantage of the opportunity to stretch a line, as I’m not much of a fisherman), the info in each of Gary’s descriptions invariably enlightened me about some of the piers that I’m most familiar with. For instance, I didn’t know that the very first Ruby’s Diner is located at the end of Balboa Pier and that they have a patio on top with an amazing view. It’s probably equally important to know that they do not have a restroom. The closest bathroom facilities are the public restrooms on the beach.

I found Piers of the West Coast Travelled on Two Wheels: Part 1, to be chock full of inspiring photos as well as informative text. Now I’m motivated to check out several piers within a day’s ride, and even some that will require an overnight stay. That gives me an excuse to further explore the Pacific Coast Highway.

Gary was not alone in his quest. His life partner, Darla, accompanied him in the passenger seat of whichever one of the several different bikes he rode to each of the 35 piers in Part 1. I noticed an Indian Chief, at least one Victory model, a BMW, Triumph Rocket III, a couple of Harley-Davidsons including his own Ultra Classic and a Champion Harley-Davidson trike, courtesy of Huntington Harley-Davidson.

In an especially engaging feature, Koz included a photo of a poster and a few words about each of his top-10 biker flicks. What a hoot! This book is really is a must-have for riders who live on the West Coast or for anyone planning a trip here.

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