RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

RAGBRAI Virgin Questions

Hey Gang,

    I’m really looking forward to my first RAGBRAI, and have a few questions for you old hands that I haven’t seen answered anywhere.  Now  I understand that everybody has their own “RAGBRAI Experience”, and that what works for one isn’t right for somebody else.  I’ve also done a number of Multi-day tours in the 4-5 hundred mile range, solo and with small to midlarge goups (30 – 500 people), so I feel like I’ve got some ‘touring chops’ and while it’s my first RAGBRAI, it’s not my first rodeo. :)
How congested are the roads?  I know that 8500+ riders are going to take up a lot of room, but once you get maybe 10 miles out from the overnight town, how bad is it? 
I know it’s not a group start (which would be insane), what’s the usual time the bulk of the riders start?  I know that I’m always happiest when I hit the roads at first light or shortly after, some coffee / oatmeal at camp, and second breakfast about an hour or so later.  
What it the typical experience at a average ‘pass-through’ town?  I know that finding food / drink along the route isn’t a problem.  How much time would you figure is an average for a stop in a pass-through.  (I not thinking about this ride in any way as a chance to set a personal best for a distance, I’m just trying to get my mental pace set)
How about the overnight towns.  I’m going with a charter to carry gear and make sure that I’ve got a place to setup my tent (BBC).  I’m sure that the overnight towns roll out the red carpet, what’s the typical experience.
In any case, I’ll adopt my typical touring mentality.  The journey IS the destination, and it’s good to have a plan, just so you can watch in detached amusement how far each day actually deviates from the plan.  I can honestly say that I’ve never had a day bike touring (and that included the ones that rained all day and the ones with 115+ heat index) where after I got to my destination for the day, setup camp, had a bite to eat, that I could ever imagining being anyplace else, or doing anything else at that moment.
Thanks in advance.
Steve
For those who understand, no explanation is needed, and for those who don’t understand, no explanation will suffice.  

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