Not sure why the need to hold the strap in the middle of the awning either, as I always slide mine to the same end as the release, then I have one hand on the strap and the other I use to release the awning and can slowly guide it up into position, including the use of the long handle that hooks into the strap loop for the final 2-3 feet of retraction. I have yet to have a problem with folding in the awning by doing it this way.
2012 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Z-71
, Crew Cab w/3.73's
2011 Jayco Jayflight Swift 26BH
33 Nights Camping so far in 2016