Issue 14 T.O.C. – "Backyard Trail Builds: An Interview with Seth Gebel"

This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Fourteen. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is to come. 

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Hand tools and traditional techniques are not only the realm of the historical purist, apartment woodworker, or Luddite wannabe. There’s a timeless practicality to their use – after all, everything was built with them, from framed barns to feed troughs, until quite recently. They are portable, enduring, and meditative in use. But even after centuries of use, we still haven’t exhausted the possibilities of what they can accomplish.

Mountain biker and woodworker Seth Gebel is pushing those boundaries. As the proprietor of the popular “Backyard Trail Builds” YouTube channel, Gebel uses natural materials to construct organically flowing features on mountain bike trails in the U.S., and utilizes hand tools whenever possible. Big jumps, ramps, and banked turns, with joinery inspired from Japanese temples and Viking ships, are his hallmark.

After a series of correspondences over the years, M&T editor Mike Updegraff interviewed Gebel to learn his story: how he found a place of connection between his beloved Missouri woods, mountain bikes, and hand tools – three seemingly disparate areas of interest that he has successfully brought together, inspiring thousands along the way. 

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