Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Bike Commute

One of my long overdue goal is to commute in winter at least a couple of times a week. The bike commute from Capitol hill to Redmond is about 18 miles and takes me anywhere from 50 minutes to 1:30 hours.

The hard things in Seattle winter are rain, cold temperature and the short day light. I’m summarizing below the list of things i need to do in order to be ready for this hefty goal (other than getting motivated :)).

The ride

I’m planning to finish building the the touring bike I started to build with Chris earlier this season. I would require a good frame for the same. I’m planning on putting cyclo-cross tires on them, fenders and of-course use the panniers from Seattle to SF ride.

The lights

This is tough and expensive category. I need light to-see and to-be seen.

Experienced cyclists recommend the Niterider as a backlight and MagicShine as a helmet lite.

For blinkers REI sells the planet bike blaze (1W), and the planet bike super-lasher.


I guess i would need to buy -

  • Facemask
  • Incandescent Jacket
  • Thermal Gloves (Gauntlets?)
  • Thermal bike wear – Performance bike wear?
  • Rain pants – (I have them already?)


Waterproof shoes is a hard thing. I’m planning to use booties over my current bike shoes. Some folks recommend the Shimano MT60’s.

Anything I missed?  Please leave suggestions in the comments. I’m specifically looking to buy multipurpose gear and equipment. I already have too much of it from my climbing and snow-boarding.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Costa Rica!

Myself and Chris, just planned to do an extempore trip to Costa Rica. Riding our bikes earlier this summer one of the deep and meaningful conversation we had was that we need to make a list of things to do if we had infinite time and money,  and then try to accomplish it! Costa Rica has been on my list since 2004, every year I had a to-do about going to Costa Rica, so this year may be it will be a reality!

Well this is really extempore, but situations in life & work dictate a lot of my scheduling (*things which i don’t have control on*). Vaidehi is going to India earlier in Dec & needs time to prepare, Maris is travelling to colder continents for blessings from Uncle Sam (Calgary); so the Mexico team is out :(. I convinced Chris (& then he convinced me) relying on the fact that all we need to take off are few working days.  Anyways, enough of the why part but life, resources, buddies and of course the onset of Seattle winter has given me the opportunity to explore Costa Rica in seven days!

So what are we going to do?

I was browsing through Lonely planet, WikiTravel and Couch surfing. Here is the current thinking.

Day Place to sleep Activities to do Transport
Tues Nov 24 San Jose, Costa Rica
(Hostel Pangue)
Enoy Dallas transit for four hours, and may be go out in San Jose. Pangue pickup
Wed Nov 25 Arenal
(Arenal Backpackers Resort)
Wed: La Fortuna Hot Springs, Volcano Tour (3:30-9:30)
Thur: Water fall
71 miles

Transit:12:30, 2:30pm
Transit time: 4.5 hours
Thurs Nov 26 Monteverde
(MonteVerde Backpackers)?
Thurs: Night tour
110m on map

Jumbo Jeep $25
Transit time: 3.0 hr
Fri Nov 27 Hiking
(MonteVerde Backpackers)
Canopy tour Cloud Forest (7:30, 10:30, 1, $45)  
Sat Nov 28 Playa Tamarindo
(Tamarindo Backackers)
Rafting (possibly with Astha and group)??, Beach, surfing Tamarindo is 100m from Monteverde  

Public transit: 8am, 12pm
Transit time: 4 hrs
Sun Nov 29 Playa Negra surfing, Trip to Jaco Most likely we should ditch Jaco and take a trip back to San Jose.

Public transit:
Transit time:
Mon Nov 30 San Jose
More San Jose ..?  
Tues Dec 1 - Trips in San Jose and catch 11:30am flight :).  


Things to bring?

  • DEET
  • Internet Device (Phone or Laptop?)
  • Backpack, rain gear, sleeping bag.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cycling to SF – Ride Report!

This post is long over due! Back in June myself and Chris Tremonte decided to bike to San Francisco, fortunately I was able to make it.

Here is a brief video summarizing our trip and the feeling we had just on reaching San Francisco:

From July 23 – Aug 1 we made it to San Francisco along the Pacific coast visiting amazing parks and meeting fun people! Chris has a detailed report on each day, however I’ll try to summarize my days in short here.

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 (Seattle, WA to Florence, Oregon): On Chris’ Day 1 I was still debating if I should go on this bike ride, I had a relatively swollen ankle and my doctor was not very happy about me doing a long bike trip. I don't know what it was, may be it was Chris’ look when he first saw me injured. He showed up the previous Tuesday at work with his newly crafted bike and panniers to show me all the goodies and telling me how he is ready to ride, but instead I showed him my foot, which at the time was in a cast! Anyways! I decided to go for the ride and meet Chris in Florence, Oregon , the plan was I’ll ride for a bit and see how I feel. We started to head down south on Chris’ DAy 3, it took us day to get drive to Florence. Myself and Maris were wondering how Chris got there in three days on  his bike! The dude is fast and tenacious, well speaks for his pro-triathlete status.

Day 4 (Florence,Oregon to Sunset Bay – Charleston, Oregon):


I was testing my abilities to ride or not to ride! After a 11am start I had three flats. I had the third flat around 2pm when Maris came to see me, I was almost about to go back with her – damn flats ( & surprisingly not the ankle) had worn me out :(. Anyways this time Chris fixed the flat (I guess expertly). Him & Maris’ convinced me to stay on the ride! After 63 miles of feeling rather good, we reached our day 4 camp in Sunset Bay – Chris wanted to continue riding but i convinced him to call it a short day (one of the many times when I slowed him down :) ). We were just in time at the camp to enjoy the campfire & company of fellow riders!


Day 5 (Sunset Bay to Harris Beach – Brookings, OR): This was my first long day. My knee started bothering me a little but mostly I felt good. As I was riding through this day I felt as if I was almost meditating and I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful Oregon coast. One of the reasons I took this trip was just to relax, and as the days to come and numerous hill climbs would tell, I did get my fair share of relaxation :).

Day 6 (Harris Beach to Elk Prairie – Orick, CA): This day I decided to focus each day for the remainder of the ride to focus on one of my loved ones and think about how I can improve my relationship with them and also add value to their life. Of course all the details won’t be on a public blog but I rather felt very good about doing this. However I still have a lot of follow ups to finish from these dedicated days of thinking. Hopefully I won’t need another vacation to get to them ;). We befriended an Australian, Andrew,  at Sunset Bay he rode with us for the next few days and we had quite few interesting incidents and experiences..


On Day 6 I was almost convinced that we would finish the ride and this was almost in stark contrast to the previous day, we did 106 miles that day and I was thinking man I might need to quit tomorrow and take the bus home. With another solid day backing day 5  I was convinced that I can thrive, although I kept telling Chris and Andrew that I might have to walk the hills :).

Map picture









Day 7 (Elk Prairie to Burlington Campground): This was one of the most eventful days of our ride! We rode more than 100 miles and got to the Burlington Campground at 7pm and then rode to the nearest village (of course of 150 people & 6miles down the road) and celebrated Chris’ birthday. A fellow biker, Sofie, who was at this Campground also joined us for the celebrations!


Day 8 (Burlington Campground to Mackerricher Sate Park – Cleone, CA): I was starting to enjoy this lifestyle of biking from place to another and meeting new people, and just coming in to the whole new fraternity. I loved the long downhill after of course a six mile uphill through the Redwoods -


Day 9 (MacKerricher to Stillware Cove Campground – Ocean Cove, CA):  Our ride-mate took a break here but before he left we enjoyed a long and thorough breakfast. In general breakfast were a big think i looked forward to every day. Most days we tried to ride a good 20 miles before stopping for breakfast and when we did, man the food felt out of the world!!


Day 10 (Stillwater Cove to San Francisco, CA): This was out another 100 mile day we got to San Francisco a whole day in advance than our schedule! One of the goals of our trip was also to help spread the message of HealthDataRights and HealthVault, our discussion with folks in Jenner got along these lines and they were impressed by two young folks trying to better the state of US HealthCare!


Day 11 (San Francisco, San Jose): We idled the day in San Francisco enjoying company of friends and family. In fact. I was in time for Rakshabhandan!



My sister had organized a surprise party welcoming us to California and successfully paddling across the coast (well she complained to my mom about me doing such stupid and crazy things ;) ).

IMG_3896 IMG_3905

I have done a many multiday mountaineering trips, overnight organized cycling trips but this 10 day bike tour was totally different. It was very relaxing at the same time challenging. This bike tour changed my perspective of few things in life, made me think harder and introduced me to a whole new way of enjoying a trip!! Hopefully in near future I will get a chance to tour more places – may be italy, may be Chile or hey may be you can suggest…I have created a forum for the same…or use the comments …

Monday, August 24, 2009

Festival Of Forgiveness - Michammi Dukdam

Today is the "Shyamapana festival". Shyamapana is a festival of forgiveness; its popular among folks of Jain faith. This day is a culmination of a weeklong fest of repentance called "Paryushan". To quote an article :

“For 357 days of the year we carry out our responsibilities to our business, our family and our career. We live a very busy, worldly life. In the process, we accumulate a lot of mental and emotional clutter. We gather unnecessary baggage of pride, fear, animosity, greed, ego and delusions in our thoughts and feelings. So Paryushan is the time to clear that clutter and make a bonfire to burn that junk, that rubbish which is corrupting our minds, our lives and our relationships. The Jains have designed the special eight days of Paryushan as a time of reflection, purification and renewal.”

So over the last year if I have hurt your feelings in any way or form, please forgive me -"Michammi Dukdam".

~~My Jain Influences~~
Support my bike ride to San Francisco
Support my Mt. Rainier Climb

My Jain Influences

I grew up in a Jain family and my mother did a lot of hard work for us siblings to understand the ideals of Jainism. To date I’m really impressed by Jain philosophy and a large part of what I’m is influenced by it. I particularly would call out:

  • Ahimsa – which mean non-violence. I guess I wont have to explaining the importance of this but would like to call out Ahimsa just doesn't mean to not hurt other human beings but actually encompasses all living things.
  • Anekanthvad – there are more than one possible explanations, particularly in religious terms. This principle pre-empts all Jains from getting in to arguments about whose God is better, I wish this tolerance principle was core of other philosophies.

The most important Mantra of Jains is Navakar Mantra.


Jainism Resources

UPDATE (8/24/2009): Yesterday, myself and Maris did the Smavatsari Pratrikraman together. This ritual last about 2.5 hours and in addition both of us were fasting for the whole day (24 hours). The interesting revelation for me during this was when I was explaining the Pratrikraman in English as I was doing it. I used the above English version to paraphrase the meaning of some Paaths to Maris. However I did make a lot of mistakes. If any of you have good English versions of Pratrikraman I would be interested and also do share your experiences in explaining it to folks new to Jainism in the comments below.

Namo Nanasa.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mt. Rainier Climb – Trip Report

On Sunday July 19, 2009 (update: silly date mistakes) around 9:00am, my team summited Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier route. In my previous post I took a moment to describe and elaborate on the cause I would like to support as part of this climb. The full photo album of this trip is shared here.


 Our Team on the Summit – 14,440 ft!


Maris and Myself at 14,440 ft!

The Team

This climb was part of Olympia Mountaineers club climbs and was led by Colin. Originally we planned on having four rope teams but a few people cancelled on the climb last minute so we had three rope teams of three people each. I wasn’t signed up to be a rope lead but John and Bonnie were gracious enough to let me lead a rope. We planned to hike to the high camp on day 1, do a summit bid starting midnight and come back to high camp and rest for remaining of day 2 and then walk out to cars on day 3.

The Route

The Emmons route compared to the more popular DC route is a little longer and little more technical. I have done the DC route before and I felt that Emmons route showed a little more of the true mountain – lots of crevasses and wind!



Day 1

We started at about 10am from the White river parking lot which is about 4500ft to get to our high camp (Camp Schurman) at about 9500 ft.

I got to lead a rope on this climb, I have been mountaineering for only a few years now and this was my first glacier rope lead. Here is an interesting picture on the first day as we were heading to the Camp Schurman high camp, seems like I’m leading my team to a crevasse – but hey there was a snow bridge there.


We got to Camp Schurman at about 4:00pm and were told by the ranger that no camping spots are available on the rock. For next couple of hours we were digging snow platforms, and finally had our tents set up around 6:30pm.


Day 2

We woke up around midnight to start our climb up on Emmons Glacier. By the time we started (around 1am) there were already a quite a few partied ahead of us. I glitter of head lamps covered the mountain.


We had been informed by the ranger that the route was pretty straight forward expect for one tricky section which has a crevasse on side and a drop off on the other. Here is a picture of that section, while I was coming down it.


At this section – which was about at 11,800ft we spent about an hour and half waiting for other teams to pass, as most of them were putting an anchor before crossing. We were quite a bit concerned because with this lag we were running a quite a bit late, as it was already 5am! and we had about 2500+ ft to go and less than 5 hour before we absolutely need to turn back.

Fortunately, after crossing on top of this serac our three rope teams (Colin's, Josh’s and Mine) moved reasonably fast and we were at the summit about 9:15 pm. Here is picture of our climb leader Colin leading -


It was very windy on the summit. We paid our homage and dedications quickly and started on the way down at about 10am.


As they say the trip up is the easy part and other half on way down causes most mountaineering accidents! Well we did fairly well on the way down, we got to our high camp at about 2pm! However Mr. V, was a little slower and punched through a crevasse. It was only to be realized later than this punching through Crevasse will cause we some ankle trouble and an ER visit!

After getting to the camp we decided to take a quick nap and food break, pack out tent and be walking down by 4pm. This was slight change in the plan because the original climb plan was to stay as high camp on day 2 and then get back on cars on the next day. However the day 1 night was so windy and stormy at the high camp that no one could sleep. In fact, we were grateful than our 3-season vestibule less tent held in that kind of wind! So in the pursuit of some sleep we left the camp on day 2 itself!

The rest of the way down, as actually eventful! Mr. V successfully managed to get his a slight cut in chin while glissading the inter-glaciers. However, skipping the uncomfortable cut the glissade were fun!!!


So by the time we got to the Glacier basin and started hiking out on the trail, my injured ankle had surfaced itself and grown in to an unbearable pain! With a 60lb pack it was increasingly becoming uncomfortable to walk out. I let Colin (our climb leader) know that and subsequently graciously Bonnie and John stayed with myself and Maris to only re-surface at the trail head in 4 hours, around 9pm! Thanks to Maris for carrying our tent for the test of way and thanks to Colin, John, and Bonnie for keeping us company! We did enjoy the awesome meadows and the views though!


When we re-grouped around 9pm at the parking lot we decided to go for a late dinner in Enumclaw! We feasted in Mazatlan Mexican restaurant and every sip of my Dos Equi helped me relieve the ankle pain. After getting to Capitol hill, I made a late night ER visit and had my ankle checked and chin sealed.

The good news is that nothing is broken (as yet) but there is quite a bit of swelling hiding any other issues. Now the bad news - I don’t know if I will be able to go on our planned Seattle to San Francisco bicycling tour starting this Saturday :(.

Thanks to Colin, John, Bonnie, Josh, Ted, Chris, Andrew for letting me be part of this climb and thanks to lovely Ms. Maris was getting me on this climb! Colin did a great job leading the climb, it was my pleasure to be in such an awesome company!

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Mt. Rainier Climb – The Cause

I thought I would take a moment and elaborate on my personal and professional causes which I would like to evangelize as part of my climb.


Earlier I got email from Aparajita suggesting like Alok’s Rainier Climb, I should fundraise for Asha. I like Asha’s cause and zero-overhead approach, so please donate for Asha to support my climb. Asha has supported a project in my hometown in India – the Mayaboli school for hearing impaired. For those who know me and would like to personally donate for this cause I would be really happy to receive donations for the same. This is the same school for which I fundraised in my last Rainier climb. Please note unlike the general Asha the donations for Mayaboli are not 509(c)3 and hence not tax deductibleimages.

Mayaboli School For Hearing Impaired

Team Cause
I also want to promote my team HealthVault and have this climb help spread the word about need to improve the state of health care, particularly the need for individual citizens to assert right to Health Data.

Endorse HealthDataRights

To share to your success stories and learn more about what other folks are doing to make themselves an active participant in the Health eco-system – do take a look at (please note – this is Microsoft sponsored venture).

Share your stories, join the movement

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yosemite – Backpacking, Rafting and Road Trip!!

So this 4th of July long weekend myself & Maris did a road trip to Yosemite, CA to spend the weekend backpacking with my sister – Vaidehi and her friends Siddharth and Abhinav.

Vaidehi and Siddharth have never backpacked before they were little hesitant to join but I convinced them that this will be easy, fun and I can help them get the required gear. Here is an interesting picture of all that we packed and also how I communicated to Vaidehi and Sid what to bring :).

IMG_3398 IMG_3400

We decided to backpack John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley, 21 mile route has 1400 ft of total elevation gain and is very scenic – perfect for a comfortable beginners backpacking trip of 3 days! Yosemite park requires a permit to backpack and for the John Muir trail all the permits were sold months in advanced. However there was an option of walk-in permits which are issued 24 hours in advance, so myself and Maris decided to drive to California a day in advance so that we can get the permits for the long weekend. The drive to Yosemite was relatively swift we kept ourselves entertained by exploring the powers of my newly bought iPhone 3G-S and Maris knitted a yet to be named crochet concoction.

Let me digress – I was really impressed by the things you can do with the iPhone in fact we bought a few audio books from iTunes and it made our trip a pleasure. I discovered a really cool American author Jack London, we heard his short story – To Build a Fire. We also heard Mark Twain Sampler and numbers podcasts from NPR and Travel and Leisure themes. One word of caution though, a few books I bought new downloaded even though i was charged for them!! Its kind of lame of Apple to not prioritize the paid content for delivery through the carriers. Note that these books where less than 10 MB (one cant download anything more than 10MB through the AT&T cell network, you need to be on WiFi or dongled to a computer).

Anyhooo… we spent Thursday setting up our tent in the backpackers camping ground in Tuolumne Meadows and driving around the park. We kept our car on the other side in Yosemite Valley so that we have a transport when we get out of the trail on the other side. We took a rather comfortable $8 shuttle/ YART Bus back to Tuolumne Meadows from the Valley! Vaidehi and Sid joined us late on Thursday night.


Backpacking Day 1

After a great breakfast at the Tuolumne lodge we started our hike up to the Cathedral lakes. This was the toughest part of the backpacking trip in 3.5 miles we gained 1400ft. Vaidehi and Sid did very great on the way up, we were really impressed by them even though this was a first backpacking trip for them. In fact we took 0.5 mile detour to go look at the lakes and join Steffen & friends (we pleasantly ran in to them at the Tuolumne lodge, Steffen took some great pics with his new camera so we have to wait for those pics).

IMG_3416 IMG_3417However the lake was infested with Mosquitoes (apparently the Mosquitoes as in high season until 3 weeks after the snow melts). Vaidehi got really pestered by the mosquitoes, her newly bought hiking shoes had silently troubled her as well.


When we got back to our trail we figured that Vaidehi in fact has sprained her ankle and the new shoes were biting her. Given that this was her first backpacking trip, trucking a sprained ankle for almost 17 miles ahead of us would be no fun, we made a call that she should go back. Sid graciously decided to accompany her. Myself and Maris then thought of finishing the trip in two days rather than three and meeting Sid and Vaidehi back in the valley for Day 3.

It was almost 4:30 pm, so Maris and Myself continued hiking and reach our day 1 camping spot – Sunrise high camp at about 6:30pm covering 10 miles in total since our start at 11:30am. This camp was infested with Mosquitoes as well so we decided to hike a little further along until we find a nice spot. We went about a mile ahead and camped in a very cool spot with great views, at about 9700 ft. I went down to the swamps and found a small stream and filtered some water for us as a swarm of mosquitoes feasted on me.

IMG_3441 IMG_3445

Backpacking Day 2

We woke up about 7am on Day 2 and started our hike at about 8am after an oatmeal breakfast prepared my our chef de excellence – Ms. Maris Lemba. This was a relatively easy day as we had about 13 miles ahead of us but it was all downhill. We hiked down to the Sunrise creek and had lunch there. Surprisingly I had cell phone coverage there, I called Vaidehi and told her that we will be down to the valley around 4pm. On our way down from Sunrise creek we passed the great half down trail, from a near wilderness experience we suddenly were amidst hoards of hikers. The trail from here became steep and the continuous downhill pounding troubled my knees quite a bit. We reach the lower Yosemite valley around 2:30pm and I decided to take a dip in the Merced river it was awesome!! This originally was our day 2 camping spot.



From there on we continued our journey downward seeing couple of falls. We camped at the backpackers area in the North pine camping ground in the valley. We met another backpacking couple at the camp and chatted about great hikes and climbing areas around the valley over a bonfire and some wine :).

Highlights of the trip

Here are pictures of some interesting flora and fauna we saw on the trip.




Unknown flowers

IMG_3475 IMG_3506

Day 3 - Rafting

The third day we were again joined by Vaidehi, Sid and Abhinav. We spent sometime sight seeing the valley and then did an awesome lazy rafting trip through the Merced river in lower valley!


Towards the end of the day Vaidehi, Sid and Abhinav went to the Glacier point but for some reason we took a wrong turn and never made it there. On the way to point we witnessed some forest fires (the first I have seen).


This was an awesome trip, thanks to Vaidehi for suggesting it.

Road Trip Back Home – Scouting the route for riding to San Francisco

On our way back to Seattle we continued with the iPhone books :). But we had another project as well to scout the route for my bike trip from Seattle to San Francisco. It was great to see the number of bikers on highway 101. Our original plan of 95 miles a day seems a little too ambitious now that I have seen the terrain, off to re-planning it now :)!

IMG_3580 IMG_3581

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seattle to SF – Bike Ride, are you game?

UPDATE: We successfully completed the ride, detailed ride reports on Chris’ blog. I still need to finish mine but here are the pics.


Myself and my colleague Chris Tremont are planning to ride from Seattle the San Francisco around July 24 – Aug 3. Now, Chris is almost a pro Triathelete and he wants to do this 800+ mile ride in around 10 days.

I’m not exactly any athlete so I’m taking a sissy approach and I'll join Chris in Eugene and ride to SF from there. I’ll take the Amtrak CoastStarlight to Eugene. Eugene is 50 miles from the coast and about midway between Yachats and Reedsport.

Route Research.

  • Great route description in this blog.
  • The mountaineers book, and the lonely planet guide.

Our Plan

We will shortly put together close to final day by day itinerary* (with elevation gain, camping spot) but for now here is how it look like:



Day Mileage

Cumulative Mileage


Potential Place To Stay





Fri 24 July











Sat 25 July











Sun 26 July



Lincoln City




Lincoln City




Mon 27 July











Tue 28 July



Gold Beach




Gold Beach

Crescent City



Wed 29 July


Crescent City









Thu 30 July











Fri 31 July



Fort Bragg




Fort Bragg

Point Arena



Sat 1 Aug


Point Arena






Point Reyes Station



Sun 2 Aug


* Thanks to Chris

Now few things which suck about the above itinerary, there is no time to party in SF. Well I’m going to pain Chris to start early so that we can keep some time to be in SF!

So what is the cause ?

Earlier I got email from Aparajita suggesting like Alok’s Rainier Climb, we can fundraise for Asha with our bike ride. I like Asha’s cause and zero-overhead approach, so please donate for Asha to support our cause. Asha has supported a project in my hometown in India – the Mayaboli school for hearing impaired. For those who know me and would like to personally donate for this cause I would be really happy to receive donations for the same. Please note unlike the general Asha the donations for Mayaboli are not tax deductibleimages73757794_9dc0786c1c

Mayaboli School For Hearing Impaired

Team Cause
We want to promote our team HealthVault and make this a road trip to spread the word about need to improve the state of health care, particularly we want to talk to individual citizens and express the need to assert right to Health Data.

Untitled Endorse HealthDataRights

To share to your success stories and learn more about what other folks are doing to make themselves an active participant in the Health eco-system – do take a look at (please note – this is Microsoft sponsored venture).

iamenabledShare your stories, join the movement

How are we going to roll?

We still need to finalize our gear but this will be an essential part – the Helmet Camera. (if Chris can get it time).

We will also post our progress on twitter with geo location, and potentially make a graphic of our progress. For now here is feed from our twitter account:

Call to action

  • Join us - I know this is call to all my friends, well-wishers and bike enthusiasts, saddle up and join us!!! Seriously if you have any inhibitions let me know, and i can help you put them at ease.
  • Endorse the HealthDataRights
  • Share your story on IamEnabled
  • Donate