Ahmad Al Ashkar rides his bicycle through the streets of Damascus for one hour every day. He's not cycling to get to work, or for pleasure - but to train. In two months time, Ashkar and some of his friends plan to travel by bike from war-torn Syria to a new life in Europe - a journey of more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles).

"First we plan to travel from Syria to Lebanon via land and go to Turkey by plane, and then travel to Greece by ship. If we can leave Greece smoothly, we will continue to travel across Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and maybe also Austria before we finally arrive in Germany," Ashkar says.

As the civil war rages in Syria, thousands of refugees are fleeing the country to take up residence in Europe. At an average cost of £3,200 ($5,000) per person, escaping by bicycle is becoming an increasingly attractive option to many in Syria.

But for people like Ashkar, the route there will not be straightforward. The escapees usually choose to ride across depopulated areas, knowing that if they are found by local police, they will be either detained or sent back to Syria.

"I have no idea what will happen during the journey. It is an adventure, and the worst situation would be being robbed on the way or deceived by human traffickers, who might even beat me. But if I remain in Syria, the risk of being killed will be higher than trying to escape the country," says Ashkar.

syria refugees
More than four million Syrians have fled the country since the civil war started in 2011 Murad Sezer/Reuters

As well as police, those fleeing Syria will also be wary of the human traffickers helping them to make the journey. Ahmad plans to switch between various traffickers along the route, and whilst he's aware of their danger and unreliability, says escaping still proves a brighter prospect than remaining in a war zone.

"The war has forced us to take this risk. The war has turned crazy ideas into reality. The craziest thing is actually the war itself. The risk in fleeing the war is lower than the risk posed by the war itself," says Ashkar.

More than four million Syrians have fled the country since the civil war broke out in 2011. With the fighting showing no signs of stopping, plenty more people like Ahmad will look for new and inventive ways to escape the conflict in the hope of a better future.