Ride defensively in the pack. Keep to the right whenever possible. Beware organized team pace lines so you don’t get clipped. Especially beware pace lines where posers have jumped on and really don’t know how to ride in a pace line.
Stop at least once for Mr. Pork Chop. Always stop for Beekman’s Homemade Ice Cream. Chris Cakes, Pancake Man, Mama Rafael’s Breakfast Burrito, Farm Boys are all great breakfast stops and are usually set up about 10 or so miles out on the route in the morning or in the first ride through town. Look for church suppers at night. Good food, affordable. Town square is usually where the main food vendor court is set up if you don’t do church supper. Entertainment easy to be found. Bicycle repair vans travel the route or are stopped in ride through towns if you need repair. They are set up each night (usually in main campgrounds or off main area. They are fair in their pricing. (I’ve been on RAGBRAI 30 years and never been gouged).
The fun (for me) is on the ride. That’s where you meet the most people. The pass through towns really turn out. Go with the flow. RAGBRAI is not a time to be anal.
Beware the animal petting pens. Take it from an old farm boy — that baby pig is cute, but the scent will stay with you for the next 10 miles. Don’t assume Iowa is flat (though this year promises to be).
If you’re a beer drinker, follow the rules. So towns are open, and main street becomes a party. There’s a town about every 10 miles on RAGBRAI, so pace yourself if you drink. And know how many miles you have to ride before dark. Some towns have designated beer pens. Only one town (Council Bluffs) in my memory targeted RAGBRAI’ers for open containers outside of bars or beer pens. In larger overnight towns like Marshalltown or Cedar Rapids you’re back in the real world and normal rules apply.
Have fun. I always do!